“Welcome to the Medical Library”: Producing an introductory video for a multi-site library service

HLG Nursing Bulletin Vol 35 (2)

Phillip Barlow

NHS Support Library

Chelsea & Westminster campus library

Imperial College London


Introducing the library service to your users can be a difficult undertaking, as it is often the case that users won’t give the library a great deal of consideration until they actually need to use it. Similarly, the opportunity of doing inductions can also be limited – if a session is organised by the library as part of an all-encompassing drop-in, few people are likely to take advantage for the reason outlined, while having the chance to get a slot in an all-day induction session for groups of users, in between the payroll and health & safety talks, can be extremely difficult. Imperial College London provides library services to a number of NHS trusts, meaning that employees of these organisations, when they register to join the library, are joining not just the library located in the hospital that they work in or near, but the college’s library as a whole. However, this is not always immediately apparent to new users, which makes providing some form of induction for them all the more important, as it gets over to them just what they have access to. As a way of introducing new users to the library service, who either may not be able to, or choose not to attend an induction, Imperial College London Library elected to produce a short video, detailing the basic information about the library and the services provided to our NHS users.

In 2014, Imperial College’s library began experimenting with the idea of producing short tutorial videos intended for publication via a video streaming site (YouTube), and for subsequent display on the library’s website. Looking at what was around led to the decision that the library should subscribe to a video production and editing application, in this case Camtasia from TechSmith (TechSmith, 2015). At around the same time, at the 2014 Health Libraries Group conference, Jane Cooper from Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Trust gave a presentation entitled ‘Online Training using Screencasting’ (Cooper, 2014). This session provided both practical knowledge of how you might go about producing a video, and ideas as to what type of material could be included, either in a single video or as part of a series.

The subscription to Camtasia was secured in September 2014 (Sandhu, 2015), with training in its use provided in January 2015, after which the Medicine team set out to come up with ideas for our own videos, aimed at the service provided to the NHS. At first, these covered brief instructional videos, primarily around the use of OpenAthens. At time of writing, there were three of these posted on the library website (hosted on YouTube), detailing various aspects of OpenAthens registration (Imperial College London, 2015), as well as more specific instructions on how NHS users can access some of the library’s resources remotely. However, the nature of the library service – multiple sites supporting different trusts, with all NHS employees of those trusts eligible to use all libraries – led to the idea of producing an introductory video, which was less instructional and more “inductional”, incorporating a good deal of the basic information about the library and the service that is given to NHS users at induction sessions.

Although the idea of an introductory video is perhaps not an especially new one, with this video we decided to give it a bit of a twist by making it not simply one introducing the library, but also one in which the library welcomes the new NHS user. The inspiration for this idea came from the Chelsea & Westminster campus library, which has a ‘Welcome to the Library’ poster at the entrance, with the phrase written in four different languages (see Fig 1), which came about as a result of the high proportion of non-native English speakers in the library team there.

Figure 1: ‘Welcome to the Library’ poster at Chelsea & Westminster campus library

Given the increasingly international nature of the NHS workforce, it was thought that a nice idea to make this planned video less lecture-like and more welcoming was to have various members of the library’s Medicine team, who would be interacting with the NHS users on a day to day basis, appearing on screen to welcome new users directly. To further emphasise the international nature of the project, we looked specifically for either individuals from countries where English is the first language,[1] or were non-native English speakers, who would provide a welcome in their own first language.[2]

Obviously, although the presence of the on-screen welcomes from members of the library team provides a way of making the video slightly less formal, the primary objective of the project was to introduce the library service for new users. For this, we took as the basis our standard library induction session which looks at all elements of the library service provided to NHS users. However, this session, when done with users, last for at least one hour, while the recommendation for video tutorials is that they last no longer than 6 minutes (Guo, 2013). The planned content for the video was divided into four individual sections, which were given title captions:

  1. Can I join?

Describing who is eligible to join, what libraries they can use, and what resources (both physical and electronic) they can access.

  • What can I borrow, and how do I find it?

Going into how to use the library’s online search function, what users can borrow and for how long, and how items can be renewed and returned.

  • Can I access your electronic resources?

Detailing what e-resources are available to NHS users, both via Imperial College and the NHS (through NICE Evidence), and how they can be accessed.

  • Do you offer training?

Going into the various types of training that the library offers, both individual and group, and how users can take advantage of it.

Each of the Medicine team’s four NHS Support Librarians was allocated a section to produce; the four sections would then be combined into a single video. The only cast iron part of the remit was that each section should be no longer than 90 seconds. Other than the time limit, each individual was free to write the script and produce the visuals as they saw fit. The visuals covered a mixture of both static and animated PowerPoint slides and demonstrations of procedures, all of which, together with the audio, were recorded using Camtasia’s screen capture function. Then, using Camtasia’s video editing function, these elements were combined with both still images (for the purposes of illustration) and the ‘welcome to the library’ videos, plus any relevant captioning, to be rendered into one single video lasting just under six minutes. In total, the video contains 121 individual elements, including screen recordings from Camtasia, completed MP4 files, MP3 files with audio, still images, and captions (See Fig. 2).

Figure 2: Screenshot of TechSmith Camtasia showing first 1:40 of video project

Producing the video proved challenging, as it involved organising a significant number of people to doing various things – the NHS Support Librarians, each of whom was responsible for writing and recording a section of the main content, which had to be done in and around other tasks, also had to find the time to record the audio in places where background noise was less of an issue. Times convenient for those appearing on screen also had to be arranged, most notably the Director of Library Services and the Head of Library Liaison for Medicine, both of whom agreed not only to appear on screen, but also provide voice-overs for the beginning and end of the video. The total time spent on the project, taking all of these factors into account, was 14 weeks from the initial pitch to the final video being posted online. At time of writing (approximately five weeks after the video was posted on YouTube), the video has been viewed more than 170 times (See Fig. 3)

Figure 3: Direct link to video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0S9gpybviuQ

While the video’s primary purpose is to be viewed by users on the library website, as one of an increasing suite of teaching, training and instructional videos, plans are in place for it to be used as an induction tool by trusts supported by the library, in the event that timetable pressures prevent a full induction session being possible. As a multi-site, single service organisation, providing the same service level to all of our NHS users, it is important to ensure that these users get the same basic information no matter where they are based. Our introductory video endeavours to do this, at the same time as presenting a friendly and welcoming face to the new NHS library user.


Cooper, J. (2014) Online Training via Screencasting. 24 July, Oxford. Available from: http://www.cilip.org.uk/sites/default/files/documents/Jane%20Cooper.ppt

Guo, P. (2013) Optimal Video Length for Student Engagement. Available from: http://blog.edx.org/optimal-video-length-student-engagement/ [Accessed 30 November 2015].

Imperial College London. (2015) OpenAthens. Available from: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/admin-services/library/subject-support/medicine/openathens/ [Accessed 23 November 2015].

Sandhu, A. (2015) Email sent to. Phillip Barlow. 19 November.

TechSmith. (2015) Camtasia. Available from: https://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html [Accessed 24 November 2015].

[1] There were two exceptions – both the Director of Library Services and the Head of Library Liaison (Medicine and NHS) are from the United Kingdom.

[2] In total, ten people appear on screen; three from the United Kingdom (including one from Northern Ireland), and individuals from the United States, New Zealand, Spain, Bosnia & Herzegovina, China, France and Brazil.

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