I went to library school a long time ago, but even then many professionals worried about the image of librarians and the library. And we still do. That’s why, I guess, we get so excited about the portrayal of librarians and the presence of libraries in popular culture. With social media, news travels quickly. When the University of Washington’s iSchool put a video of librarians adapting Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” to library research (CA-Ca-Catalog. Don’t forget the databases”) , librarians blogged, tweeted, and facebooked about it. Most loved it.
Now we’ve gone gaga over Old Spice. When Isiah Mustafa, the actor who play the Old Spice man in the YouTube commercials announced he would post replies to blog posts and tweets, New Jersey librarian Andy Woodworth suggested he mention libraries. In only a couple of hours, the library video went live and quickly became a viral hit, not, presumably, just among librarians, since it’s had 61 million views as of this morning.
Some librarians were upset, however, that he connoted libraries with books. It’s that image thing, again. We want our image to be more than about books. Yeah, don’t forget the databases. We want to be seen as forward thinking, technologically savvy, ahead of the curve, and totally up to date.
Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library may have the last laugh on this one. It’s got a short video that parodies the Old Spice commercial by presenting the “New Spice, Study like a Scholar, Scholar” video. Starring HumorU comedian and BYU student Stephen Jones, who bears a startling resemblance to Old Spice’s Mustafa, it extols the value of the library. (Should I really think of library databases as celestial sandwiches? Hmmm.)
Image aside, what these really tell me is the power of video for libraries. We’ve got to get beyond boring instructional videos, however, and put some pizazz into it. But maybe not too much. I’m still wondering whether the ProQuest video on its new platform is telling me anything or whether it’s just a slick commercial. Compare that with the video ProQuest did of its booth presentation at ALA and tell me which you prefer, or whether you don’t like either one. I haven’t made up my mind, but I do know I like BYU’s New Spice and sincerely hope they make some more with him explaining more about library research.