Effective Use of Videos in the School Library

Effective Use of Videos in the School Library - Videos can introduce complex information and procedures better than any other tool or strategy. Their most effective use is in short, 2-5 minute segments. Here are 5 short videos I've created to use with my students. Feel free to use them with yours! #NoSweatLibraryEveryone loves a good video. It captures students’ attention in a way no other teaching device does. Oh, we do many tech and non-tech hands-on activities with students, but video effectively introduces informational material better than anything else. I find students even prefer narrated slides presented as a video!

Let me clarify that I’ve used video with students for 25 years, from science laserdiscs with at-risk high school students to online streaming as a middle school librarian, but I don’t show a whole movie, TV episode, nor any video that runs more than ~15 minutes—even Bill Nye gets old after 15 minutes!

We can find effective, short videos available FREE of charge from several educational providers. For example, the U.S. Government offers free Online Safety videos on the FTC Consumer Information website. At times, however, the only way to use video to present a concept is by making one ourselves. I offer here a few videos I’ve created for student instruction using desktop and online applications. Feel free to use any of them for your own library instruction!


Library Orientation is the first library visit of the school year. Our lowest-grade-level students are new to the school and library, so we need to help them feel at home in this strange new environment. I have a short activity to familiarize them with the Fiction area, then show them a video I created on “How to choose a good book” to read. Students follow along with a small ¼-sheet checklist, which they then take with them to find their first Fiction book to check out. I created this as a narrated Microsoft PPT, then saved as a video.

It’s silly for students to hang on to a book for weeks without finishing it, so I address this at all grade level orientations (2nd visit for newbies, 1st visit for higher grades) using this video. I created “Use the 20-page Guide to Decide” on GoAnimate.


My Academic Honesty lesson uses short videos to great advantage. To meet National School Library Standards for conceptual understanding and CCSS for documentation (bibliographic information, citation, plagiarism), I teach 3 legal concepts—intellectual property, copyright, and fair use—with a flow of videos that imparts these complex concepts in a meaningful way, yet the total of all video time is only 14 minutes.

When teaching intellectual property I discuss bibliographic citation, and I find students (and many adults) are confused by the term “cite,” so the first video I ever created alleviates the confusion between 3 homophones. Here is my “Sight-Site-Cite” video, created with Windows PhotoStory.


We know it’s important to show students the kind of end product we expect when we assign a project. That’s particularly true for technology products they’ve not done before. To preview an upcoming ELA assignment, I created this “Video Booktalk Example” to show them how easy they are to make. I actually created two. Here’s the first I made by uploading photos to Adobe Spark and adding text and transitions:

Here’s the nearly identical one I created with Google Slides, uploading the photos, adding text, and downloading each slide as an image, then uploading all of them to Kizoa to create the video.

In a short time, videos can introduce procedures, explain complex concepts, or model examples to students. Try these 3 FREE videos (on YouTube & Vimeo) to give your library lessons a boost! | No Sweat LibraryIf you’ve watched these 5 videos, you can see how, in only 9½ minutes, the power of video can be very effective to introduce procedures, explain complex concepts, or model examples to students.

These embedded videos are all from YouTube. You can also find them on my Vimeo page! Better yet, download a FREE PDF linked list of all my media from the FREE Librarian Resources page.

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Viewing & Creating Book Trailers: A School Library Orientation

Viewing & Creating Book Trailers: A School Library Orientation - Captivate 8th grade ELA students during School Library Orientation with a technology-based lesson. Students use cell phones to scan QR codes which are linked to online video booktrailers, generating excitement for books, for the school library, and for their first project: creating their own video booktalk. #NoSweatLibraryGiving a Library Orientation for 8th graders is a real challenge. They’ve already been through two orientations as 6th and 7th graders, so we need something fresh that rejuvenates their interest in visiting the library. There’s a significant maturing that takes place during the summer between 7g and 8g, so we need an activity that that isn’t childish or boring, that provides guidance but not overt supervision.

I tried several ideas my first few years, but when 8g ELA teachers told me they were beginning the year differently, with a video book-talk, I knew that using cell phones to scan QR codes and view online video book trailers would captivate these students. And the teachers would appreciate the “sneak peak” to get students excited to create their own book trailers.


First I show them how easy it is to make a book-talk as a video. In my browser I go to the copyright-free image site Pixabay and enter a search term, then choose an image and show them how to save it into their personal folder.

snip of hut search on pixabay composit of booktalk images

I explain that the essence of a good book trailer is to choose just a few really great images to highlight key scenes in the early part of the book’s story, images that will entice others to read the book. I show the images I’ve already saved for my book trailer, mentioning that using a combination of color and monochromatic images can create mood.

Next I show students Adobe Express, an online app that allows them to upload images, enter text, choose music, then create a video slideshow. (It’s free, but you need to sign up. There are others that are also good for educational use, like Stupeflix, and WeVideo.) I quickly show them how to upload an image, add some engaging text to promote the book, and choose some appropriate music provided within the app; then I show my 51-second book trailer example video. (But don’t expect to find this book—it’s an imaginary one I may someday find time to write!)


Promote Reading with Video Book Trailers at School Library Orientation - Promote student reading with a hands-on School Library Orientation using QR codes linked to video book trailers. Show them how easy it is to create their own video booktalk using copyright-free images and a slide-to-video app. #NoSweatLibraryI tell students their next activity is using their smartphones to scan QR codes & view book trailers. These book trailers can help them choose a good book to check out, and it gives them an opportunity to see examples of what they might do. 8th graders are ecstatic to use their smartphones right at the start of the school year for a legitimate school activity, and I quickly show them how to get a QR reader for their iPhone or Android device if they don’t already have it. I ask them to partner with others at their table who don’t have a smartphone, then I let them loose to scan the strips of paper on their tables that have sets of QR codes. The next 15 minutes is a joy to behold!

Many students choose to check out one of the featured books, so I switch out the QR strips during the day to feature different books for students to check out. Regardless of which book each student checks out, they’re already talking about how they’ll make their own book trailer. I call that a successful orientation.


Several websites offer book trailers, and over the years I’ve accumulated a list of URLs to turn into QR codes. To get you interested in creating book trailers with your students, view some from the sites listed below to see how easy it is to create one.

booktrailers4all – the original! Some are older, but still the best for showing how to use PPT or Google slides to create a video booktalk.

Jill Slapnik – she has 514 videos in various playlists.

Penguin Books USA | Penguin Middle SchoolPenguin Teen

Scholastic – many book trailers and video booktalks!

Simon & Schuster Books


Amanda Kordeliski – a HS librarian with 21 trailers.


Do let me know in the comments if you have found some other good booktalk or booktrailer sites.

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