31 July 2019 Blogs, Academic, Community College, Faculty, Librarian

“Bringing Serendipity Back:” How Hofstra University Uses Streaming Video

Sarah McCleskey, Head of Resource & Collection Services at New York’s Hofstra University Library, talks video in education – and how its use has changed drastically in the past decade.

Sarah McCleskey, Head of Resource & Collection Services at New York’s Hofstra University Library, talks video in education – and how its use has changed drastically in the past decade

The Hofstra University Library has a big job: providing print and electronic resources for more than 10,000 students at the university’s Hempstead, New York-based campus. Hofstra’s wealth of graduate and undergraduate programs range from psychology to engineering, and they all require up-to-date content and technology resources for curriculum and research.

Librarian Sarah McCleskey,Head of Resource & Collection Services, manages the departments that deliver both print and electronic materials to users, and is also responsible for video acquisition. As manager of the library’s Academic Video Online subscription, Sarah spoke with ProQuest about why streaming video is in high demand with the faculty and students she serves. Here’s a summary of our interview.

ProQuest: How have you seen the use of video change over time?

Sarah McCleskey: It’s hugely different from how it used to be. Twelve or 13 years ago, it was the norm for professors to use class time to show video using DVDs or VHS tapes. But now, streaming video has revolutionized the use of film content for teaching across the curriculum.

For instance, more and more faculty are employing the “flipped classroom” model and assigning viewing as homework so they can preserve their incredibly valuable class time for discussion and follow-up. I think that really has a huge impact on the value of a student’s education in terms of their interaction with the faculty member and with their classmates. They’re not just sitting in a room watching a film – they’ve all already watched it, and now they’re sharing this common experience of talking about it and its meaning.

PQ: What genre of video do you get the most requests for?

SM: Everything! For example, healthcare programs like counseling and therapy and nursing use simulations and professional training videos to experience what it’s like to see patients. Our literature classes, especially comparative literature, make a lot of feature and foreign-language film requests – those are used in teaching all the time. And, finally, documentaries are highly used by many programs. They’re the backbone of our streaming collection. 

PQ: When did you start using Academic Video Online?

SM: We started using it in January 2019, and it’s wonderful to have this real wealth of content available to students so they can really transcend a subject and expand their knowledge. It’s an important part of our streaming video program.

PQ: What do you like most about Academic Video Online?

SM: I love that you’re always going out and seeking new content. For years, there was no option to get films from Sony Pictures Classics. Professors would say, “I want to streaming rights to this” and we couldn’t do it. Now, I can say “yes, we have it – we’re covered!”

I also love the new video interface (launched in July 2019), particularly the channels covering different topics. Each channel covers relevant, important topics for teaching and learning – there’s a channel on the Stonewall Riots, for example, with 50 videos included in it. Some people say, “if you take books out of the stacks, there’s no more browsing, no more serendipity.” But this is bringing that serendipity back.

PQ: Academic Video Online is a subscription, providing unlimited access to all its videos with one predictable cost. What other acquisition models have you tried in the past?

SM: We’d tried evidence-based acquisition, but I never thought we were able to gather enough evidence to make smart decisions. We also tried patron-driven acquisition, and while it worked fine on some platforms, it became unsustainable (cost-wise).

PQ: Last question. What are your favorite films on Academic Video Online?

SM: I’m a fiend about getting video for other people – so, for me, it’s the unique content like Sony Picture Classics, Filmmakers Library Online and Milestone Films. I love knowing that I can get these films for the people who need them. 

Everything we do is about getting materials to users. And I think having a service like Academic Video Online makes our library a great place, because people can always access what they need, when they need it.

Academic Video Online offers more than 67,000 videos from Anthropology to Zoology.

  • Want to try Academic Video Online? Visit our website to learn more.
  • Interested in seeing how AVON could fit into your library’s budget? Request a quote.
  • Did you know Academic Video Online comes with a perpetual rights feature? Want to see how many perpetual rights titles you can get with a subscription? Request a quote.
See 10 reasons why librarians love Academic Video Online.