Marketing for Libraries Logo

Audio and Video Collections

watch videoChildren and young adults expect to find everything they need on YouTube. In some cases, they're right. However there are many instances where great video is found on DVDs or in special digital collections.

Whether you're watching television programs, movies, or home-made videos, combining motion images and sounds can bring back memories. When you tell children that in the "olden days" TVs came without remote controls, a "test pattern" played when no programming was available, and in the 1980s people went to a video store to rent videotapes, they may stare at you with horror. The new generation is most familiar accessing videos instantly on Netflix.

From the Weather Channel to feature films, most children and adults spend time each week watching video. Increasingly, people are finding that video is available from a variety of sources from broadcast television to Internet programming.

You'll be amazed at the wonderful programs that can be found online. For instance, the award-winning short film 55 Socks can be viewed on YouTube.

try itTry It!
Go to the website.
It contains lots of historical footage. Explore video!

Read Lamb, Annette & Johnson, Larry (2012). Jiminy Cricket revisited: a dozen ways video can activate learning. Teacher Librarian, 39(6), 55-59. Available through IUPUI.

Read Teens & Online Video from PewResearchCenter.
What are the implications for libraries?

Apps for Video

Apps often provide the entry point for today's video collections. Rather than the video being storied in the app. The app generally provides the "front-end" for the video including lists, indexes, and search tools.

Khan Academy is a rich source of for thousands of learning videos. Apps are available for iOS, Android, and Mobile Web to make access easy on mobile devices.

Informational and Documentary Video

A wide variety of videos are available. They can generally be classified into informational, instructional/educational, and entertainment. From travel videos to historical accounts, informational and documentary videos help people gain insights and understandings into a particular topic.

blue planetHave you ever wanted to dive deep into the ocean, visit the Grand Canyon, or explore ancient civilizations? Nonfiction video titles can be found in every content area. For example, the BBC series The Blue Planet takes you to the depths of the ocean.

Documentaries are nonfiction videos. Lovers of A&E, the History Channel, BBC, PBS, HBO, Showtime, and other television channels are very familiar with this style. Many vacationers have seen documentaries at IMAX theatre.

Many documentaries are never seen in the theatre or television. Even when they are released on video, they are often overlooked. However, they can be popular items in the library.

foosAward Winners. Each year an Academy Award is given for the best documentary. These are often of interest to teens.

Many of the award winning films, also have website materials to explore. For instance, Academy Award Nominee Food, Inc. has extensive web-based materials.

Popular Titles. If you're just starting to expand your documentary collection, consider award winners and popular films. Some documentaries quickly gain popularity in the library. For example, Hoop Dreams was a popular documentary about basketball.

Go to Best Documentaries from Common Sense Media. This website evaluates documentaries for youth.

Entertainment. Teens love learning about the lives of celebrities and those in the music industry. Look for works that provide balance and are age appropriate. For instance End of the Century: The Story of the Ramones would be a hit.

History. Both PBS and BBC contain a wide selection of documentaries. Those by Ken Burns are probably best known. These include Prohibition, National ParksLewis and Clark, Thomas Jefferson, Jazz, Civil War, Baseball, Mark Twain, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Liberty. Many of the programs have matching websites such as Mark Twain.

Mark TwainOthers are starting to use a similar style such as Spike Lee's 4 Little Girls focus on the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham. His When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts explores the story of Hurricane Katrina.

National Geographic lovers will enjoy their many productions. A&E and the History Channel are well-known for quality projects.

Science. From animals to outer space, science has always been a popular topic for documentaries. BBC, PBS, National Geographic, and Discovery Channel are well-known for their science and nature documentaries. For example, BBC's Walking with Dinosaurs series was a popular success. Space has always been a popular topic such as Stephen Hawking's Universe from PBS. Weather such as Weather Extreme from the Discovery Channel is another hot topic.

The Cove is an inspiring, award-winning story about a dolphin.

wonderwomenHealth. The Dummies Series has lots of health-related titles that are popular with teens.

Biography. People are often the focus of documentaries. Girls would enjoy Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.

Hobbies and Travel. Informational videos on pet care, biking, and travel can all be found in this area. Whether you'd like to explore your background or travel around the world, there are videos that can provide the background information you need. For example, the Emmy award winning Gardens of the World with Audrey Hepburn takes you on virtual visits to different types of gardens from England to Holland.

Sports. Sports enthusiasts can find endless selections of informational and documentary films.

In the same area, look for transportation videos. Kids and adults alike enjoy videos featuring monster trucks, cars, trains, and motorcycles.

Docudramas such as Into Thin Air are a couple examples. There's a nice activity on comparing docudrama and documentary using the TNT film on the Buffalo Soldiers at their website.

Civil WarMany videos bring the educational and entertainment markets. For example, Ken Burn's Civil War series is informational, educational, and entertaining. It was originally available on television, but now it can be purchased in both video and DVD.

In addition, a website that accompanies the video series contains many additional resources to expand the experience including discussions and classroom activities. You can also purchase the book and audio CD to round out the experience.


Instructional and Educational Video

Instructional and educational videos are an important part of learning for today's youth.

Intstructional Video

Have you ever wanted to build a birdhouse, plant a garden, or learn to play the piano? Instructional videos are designed to teach specific skills. Instructional videos are developed to teach specific skills and concepts. They're generally shorter in length than entertainment programming and have a very narrow focus. For example, an instructional video may contain a number of short, ten to twenty minute segments.

Exercise. Exercise videos started the "how to" video craze. Although kickboxing, pilates, tai chi, hula, belly dancing, and yoga are the current rage, another set of exercise gurus are just around the corner. Instructional videos have many advantages over face-to-face classes or other learning methods such as books or audios. You see and hear the instructions as you perform the task. Your personal instructor takes you step-by-step through each skill. Learners set their own pace and can repeat the video over and over as needed. For these reasons, people like golf videos where they can practice before heading to the golf course.

Music. Learn to play the drums, guitar, piano, or other instruments using step-by-step instructions on video. These videos often come with companion materials such as books and posters.

Self-Help. Meditation, healing, and massage videos are all great for relaxation. How about a video on aromatherapy?

Crafts and Hobbies. Do you want to design your living space using the Feng Shui philosophy? Maybe you want to learn to draw comic strips or paint watercolor. Some people just like to watch these videos for entertainment rather than taking them seriously.

Cooking. Both children and teens enjoy learning to cook and bake. Many video productions provide step-by-step instructions for baking and cooking. Topics include chocolate, healthful living, and vegetarian diets. 

Educational Video

From Sesame Street to Creative Writing courses, educational programming is intended to provide learning experiences. Rather than focusing on a specific skill like instructional video, educational programming is flexible enough to be used in many situations.

Weston Woods inconjunction with Scholastic has become known for outstanding videos based on books.

Educational videos are available across subject areas including language arts, health, social studies, and science.


Entertainment Video

Entertainment videos are probably the most popular in public libraries. Including both box-office hits and lesser-known quality independent films, entertainment videos come in a wide range of genres.

Movies based on children's books like Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs are always popular. In addition, those based on books for the middle grades like Percy Jackson and Harry Potter are also well-received. Of course, young adult books like Hunger Games and Ender's Game have cross-over appeal with adults.

Seek out classic movies that are popular across generations like The Adventures of Milo and Otis, Finding Nemo, The Lion King, Mary Poppins, and Old Yeller.

More recent Disney and Pixar series have also become popular such as Monsters series, Car series, and Toy Story series.

Family films are particularly appeal. These include The Sounds of Music, The Wizard of Oz, E.T., and Babe.

Remember the popular series like Indiana Jones and Star Wars.

Seek out works that each new generation of teens will enjoy like Monty Python and the Holy Grail and The Princess Bride.

Seasonal favorites include The Grinch that Stole Christmas, Elf, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, A Christmas Story and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Many teens enjoy the classic disaster movies like Dante's Peak.

Finally, don't forget the classics like To Kill a Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath.


Both students and teachers are increasingly using online resources for instructional video.

Many of the television stations have websites where they make video available.

An increasing number of services show television programming. Hulu is an example.

try itTry It!
Go to Cable in the Classroom. This website focuses on programming and resources associated with kids and cable television programming. Explore the resources.

Online Video

Streaming video on the web is a rapidly growing way to access informational, educational, and entertainment programming.

Many websites advertise "live streaming" or "real-time webcasts". What do these terms mean?

Webcast refers to all kinds of programming played over the Internet. For instance, the Library of Congress Webcasts page contains links to a wide range of live and recorded programming. Exploratorium shows science video programming.

Streaming refers to the technical process of sending audio and video through the Internet. The audio and/or video play more quickly than traditional downloading

The word "live" can lead to confusion. Some people call streaming media "live" because it plays almost immediately rather than waiting for a download. Although it's accurate to say that you're listening to the webcast "live" as it is being downloaded, it's often not actually a "live webcast".

NASA TV often broadcasts live.

Real-time events are live programs, archived events are recordings of live events, and packaged programs often contain elements that were recorded live. For example, you can listen to a basketball game as it happens, a recorded version (delayed webcast), or an edited version. It works just like television.


In addition to entertainment, YouTube has some valuable learning resources for youth.

Connect history with music through music videos from History for Music Lovers with songs likeRenaissance Man or French Revolution. Make your own!

If you're not into history, you can still find the classics like Conjunction Junction from School House Rock.

If YouTube is filtered, be sure to check the new YouTube Schools.

Keep in mind that you can use tools such as KeepVid, SaveYoutube, or ZamZar to download video clips. Be sure to use the FREE aspect. Don't click on the large DOWNLOAD buttons, they're advertising.

YouTube Channels are particularly useful in directly youth to quality programs.

Most of the popular publishers have YouTube Channels. These are a great source for book trailers:

General Video Sources

The Arts

Teaching Resources

Student Resources

Video Resources


Teaching Resources

Student Resources


Student Resources

Video Resources

Watch author interviews:

Explore online storytelling websites:

Family Studies

Student Resources

Video Resources


Teaching Resources

Student Resources

Math Video


Teacher Resources

Student Resources

Video Resources


Teaching Resources

Student Resources

Science Video

Social Studies

Teaching Resources

Student Resources

Video Resources


Teaching Resources

Student Resources

Digital Citizenship

World Languages

Student Resources

Video Resources

Live and Archived Webcams

Live and archived webcams be fun for youth.

Video in the Library

Begin your exploration with best-selling and award-winning video programs. You'll find that many create videos don't appear in your local theaters. Producers like Weston Woods are known for their quality videos for youth.

Go to Children's Notable Lists from ALSC. Look for the Notable Children's Videos.

Be sure to start with your standard library selection journals and websites. Most of these tools have video sections. A few tools are aimed specifically at video selection.

Go to Video Librarian. If you're in charge of the video collection, consider a subscription to this website.

When selecting entertainment video titles, use the many popular online evaluations sites as a place to begin. These sites explore both mainstream as well as children's titles.

Video Activities in the Library

Use video along with manipulatives and off-computer activities that demonstrate student understanding. Students need to active thinking assignments BEFORE, DURING, and AFTER viewing the video clip.

Activity Ideas

  1. Re-enactments. Act out the contents of the video.
  2. Role Play. Take on the role of characters in the video and create your own scene.
  3. Vocabulary. Write words or definitions on slips of paper. Students draw a slip and find the person with the matching word or definition. Then, the pair must act out an example.
  4. Manipulatives. Use models or manipulatives to try out ideas demonstrated in the video. Find places on a globe or map. Use geoboards or other math manipulatives.
  5. Polls. Conduct a poll or survey after watching a video. Write a question and ask the others in the class to respond. Then, enter the data in the computer to share.
  6. Manipulate Paper. Move items around on a bulletin board, table or floor to match or make connections.
  7. Experiment. Conduct a science, social, or math experiment. Try out something discussed in the video.
  8. Puppets and Props. Use puppets, pointers, or other props to explain something in the video. Use hats, scarves, or other props.
  9. Interviews. Write three questions and interview another student about their thoughts.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Teacher Tap | 42explore | About Us | Contact Us | 2013 Annette Lamb

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.