Bite-sized video for libraries: gifs and Vine

I’ve been considering bite-sized video over the last few months as a way of illustrating how to use online Library tools.

Screencasts are great to show someone a step-by-step process, but you might want a quick way of demonstrating “click here” or “login here”, without the need for someone to watch a three minute video.

Many libraries are using Vine as a promotional or engagement tool, rather than as a way of showing students how to use their services or resources, but I have seen a couple of library Vine accounts that include the latter approach.

Saint George’s University of London (Vine account) have Vines on using self service and book return.
Stirling University Library (Vine here) have made a couple of Vines about their new print system:

I’m not writing a comprehensive post on Library Vine accounts here, but some other ones I’ve come across that have neat content include:

If you’re interested in Vine you might also be interested in Ned Potter’s excellent post on Twitter video, which offers up to 30 seconds recording time.

I’ve seen a few Vines that try and demo how to use something onscreen, with mixed results. I get that Vines don’t have to be super polished, but you do need to be able to see clearly what’s being done on-screen, and attempts at cutting the video to demonstrate steps can end up being a bit seizure-inducing.

I’ve started seeing gifs used more on more on websites about software and tech. Here’s a post on WordPress tags using a gif from, and a great post on Library opening hours pages from So, what about gifs?

Fry from Futurama squinting. You know the meme.
Fry is not sure about library gifs

Gif It….Gif It Good*

I used Screen to Gif to make this quick test. This tool lets you insert a title slide, but as you can see it flashes up rather quickly. I haven’t worked out how to get StG to display it for longer just yet. And it looks a little blurry. Hey, I spent all of 20 minutes on this.

A gif like this could be used to show a Library user how to add an item to their e-shelf on our Primo platform, OneSearch:

Add to EShelf

I’m thinking it might be better to capture and edit the video in a dedicated tool (such as Screencast-o-Matic) and add any titles, annotations, highlights etc in that, before giffing it in something like Screen to Gif.

There are a lot of different gif creation tools out there, so I might try another (here’s a 2013 list from Mashable, and a more recent post on Imgur’s video to gif tool – you could use this to gif your library’s existing Youtube content).

I’m not proposing making your library site look like Tumblr – but I think the odd strategically placed gif in place of the usual screenshots could be an effective way to illustrate simple navigational tips or “how to’s”.

Some potential downsides. A page full of gifs can be slow to load and data hungry for those on mobile (another reason to keep their usage to a minimum). Even my home connection slows to a crawl when confronted with Imgur or some Tumblr sites. I had about 12 tabs of gifs and Vines open at one point while writing this post and EVERYTHING DIED.

And gif’s aren’t accessible (though annotated screenshots often aren’t either).

Anyway, what do you think? Does your library already use gifs for any online guides to resources? Used sparingly, could they be effective? Or should we be thinking about adding dancing hamsters to our discovery tools? Please say that is archived somewhere.

* I had Devo in my head


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