How we tried out new tools, worked with lots of people and what we expectedly (and unexpectedly) learned along the way
by Katie Daugert and Lauren Sin, Washington DC Chapter, News Division
NPR’s Digital Media division recently implemented quarterly “Serendipity Days” in order to innovate in likely and unlikely ways. On Serendipity Days, staff is given the opportunity to take an entire day and a half away from their regular duties and develop a project or an idea of their own choosing. There are two simple rules to follow: the project must benefit NPR in some way and participants have to present their findings to each other.
For our Serendipity Days experience, we decided to create a training video to teach our colleagues both near and far how to run a basic search in NPR’s new internal archives and transcripts database. Artemis, named for the goddess of the hunt, contains all 40+ years of NPR’s programming metadata. The metadata has been created by NPR librarians over the years; Artemis, also developed by librarians, just launched in November.
We participated in Serendipity Days partly out of necessity (the video was one small part of our training/marketing strategy for Artemis), and partly out of curiosity. The luxury of having time to play around with a new idea has standout appeal!
A colleague recommended TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio, a screen capture software that allows you to record and edit screencasts and share produced videos. We collaborated to master the use of the software, wrote and edited a script, voiced and recorded the audio, and selected and added music, all within our allotted time.
The result? We now have a two-minute introductory video that allows our users to learn at their own pace, whenever they have time, wherever they work. Based on the overwhelming positive feedback we received from our video, we went on to create five more videos as part of our Artemis launch campaign. Check out our videos posted on Vimeo!
Our first Serendipity Days experience encouraged us to play with ideas and gave us the time and space we needed for creative thinking. The concentrated planning time and quick turnaround paid off – our project evolved into a major stepping stone in our outreach efforts. We collaborated with our clients, librarians and our Digital Media colleagues. We created new roles for ourselves, shifting from information curators to dynamic instructors and video producers. We are taking technology-smart approaches on how to engage our users and explore future methods of content delivery. Perhaps most importantly of all, we were delighted to find out that we can get a lot accomplished in a concentrated and intensive amount of time.
Katie Daugert is a Reference Librarian at NPR and co-leads the library’s training and outreach efforts. She partners with journalists and staff to research story ideas, track down and evaluate facts, audio resources, and public records. Her MSIS is from UT Austin.
Lauren Sin is a Broadcast Librarian at NPR, combing NPR’s vast media archive to help journalists create sound-rich content. She also manages the Library’s spoken word resources, a collection consisting of over 60,000 culturally and historically significant recordings. Her MLIS is from UCLA.