“Bleeding Libraries:” A School Library Advocacy Video

By now, you’ve probably seen the Librarians Do Gaga video from the University of Washington that went viral two weeks ago,’  and the Who Ya Gonna Call? video that featured Ghostbusters in the NYPL Reading Room in mid-May. Here’s one that may not be on your radar: “Bleeding Libraries,” a school library advocacy video that examines the plight of the school library when funding is lost and the doors are closed. I asked Laura K. Graff, the visionary behind the video, to share how it came about. Check out the video, then get her take after the jump.

Creating “Bleeding Libraries” by Laura K. Graff, Sun Valley (CA) High School

I had the idea of a video in my mind for a long time.’  Last year my district decided to shorten library aides’ hours in the elementary libraries.’  All our justifications for keeping all libraries open all day fell on deaf ears.’ ‘  I encouraged library aides to create a video to illustrate what would happen to closed libraries, but nothing happened.’  This year all library positions — librarians in secondary schools and aides in elementary schools — were eliminated as centrally funded positions.’  High school positions have been restored, but we’re still advocating for middle schools.

I made a list of “shots” and then worked with other librarians to refine the list.’  I tried unsuccessfully to interest several people in producing the video until another Teacher Librarian suggested his son who works in sound.’  He had worked with a good director recently, and they assembled a complete crew.’  I met with the director to go over the shots, text that I had written, and our intentions for the video.’  The crew consisted of the director, editor, sound person, camera woman, and a few others.’  They agreed to do the job for $1500, although they were seriously underpaid for the work they did.’  They felt committed to the project and donated a lot of time.’  Once the concept was in the director’s hands, it was his project.’  He created a logical narrative from our list of shots.’  He transformed a list of ideas into a dramatic statement.

We worked on the video from 11:00 AM to 7:30 PM.’  Librarians from other schools came to assist after school and students participated at lunch and after school.’  The video crew helped move books and furniture along with everyone else.’  They even appeared in some sequences.’  The students were basically volunteers and many of them are library regulars.’  My principal gave permission for us to make the video, and students had their parents sign release forms.

We had to physically empty the shelves.’  The only magic was keeping the camera in its exact position after shooting the last scene that showed me walking down the aisle with the books on the shelves.’  Then we had to move all the books so they could shoot the empty shelves.’  The fade was in editing.’  It was a huge challenge to move the books AND place them out of sight.’  The director and several of the crew “trashed” the library.’  The director used torn pieces of clear plastic to make the computer monitors appear broken.’  The crew moved furniture and equipment.’  We tried to use water soluble markers for tagging but they didn’t show up.’  We switched to tagging on posters and signs.’  No books, students or furnishings were damaged in the production of this video!

We have just started to promote the video.’  I uploaded it to Youtube and Vimeo and then posted the URLs on the lm-net and calibk12 listservs, as well as the google groups we have for our own librarians and aides.’  A librarian in another school district posted it on TeacherTube.’  UTLA, our teacher’s union, posted it’  on their website.’  I posted it on my Facebook page, and other librarians, including my sister in New York, have shared it on their own Facebook pages.’  I know of at least one Twitter.’  We’re in the process of planning distribution to the media, print and online.’  At this point in time, we’re including local newspaper columnists and reporters, state government officials, state education department personnel, state government education committee members, ALA, School Library Journal, and Huffington Post, for a start.’  Michael Moore is on our list as well.’  Librarians saved his book from being sent to the dump by the publisher after 9-11.’  Maybe he can save us.

About Beth Gallaway

Beth Gallaway was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2006 for her work in advocating for videogames in libraries. She is an independent library trainer/consultant specializing in gaming, technology, and youth services, and is a YALSA certified Serving the Underserved (SUS) trainer.
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