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Streaming Video Platforms

June 10, 2021

Throughout the last year and a half, I had a variation on this conversation with many of the faculty in my liaison departments.  

Faculty: Every year I put Film X on reserve for my students in the library. How can my remote students get access to Film X through the library?  

Me: Unfortunately, Film X is not available in Academic Video Online (AVON), our only streaming media database, so we are not be able to provide access to Film X through the library. Here’s a link to Just Watch, a website that gives information on where Film X is available to stream. Sometimes students may already have access to a streaming service that provides access, otherwise it appears that they could rent the film for less than $5.  

Faculty: I’m not comfortable asking students to pay so I guess I’ll have to figure out something else to do.  

At this point the logical side of my brain would file this interaction as complete and move on. Meanwhile the people-pleasing, emotional side of my brain would keep re-running this conversation until I would wake up in the middle of the night after dreaming about a group of faculty & students protesting the library for bad service during a pandemic.

I’m not sure if this is a scenario that happened at your library (with or without the stress dreams) but I certainly wasn’t the only librarian at my library having this conversation. As a result, we are incorporating Swank & Kanopy as options for streaming video platforms starting in the fall. 

We only have a limited amount of money to spend on each platform so it’s been difficult for us to decide out how to roll out these new platforms. I’d love to hear from other librarians how you manage these platforms at your school. Do you allocate a certain dollar amount or number of films to each department? Is it first come, first serve? Do you buy based on films you know that faculty use every term?  

I’m also curious to hear from other traditionally residential campuses, do you think the need for streaming video will decline once we “return to normal” in the fall?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Christina J. Steffy permalink
    June 10, 2021 7:08 pm

    We just started using Swank as a back up here at Alvernia. It’s for situations like this – we need our online students to be able to stream this video, and it’s not available in Films On Demand (the only other streaming platform we have). Swank has great options – you can pay per title which is what we’re doing until we see what the demand is, and you can also buy blocks of titles. It was also very easy to get set up – we currently have one title on the platform.

    • smartin592 permalink
      June 10, 2021 7:09 pm

      That’s a nice idea to just have it as a backup! I’m interested to know how easy is it to manage how long each film is licensed?

      • Christina J. Steffy permalink
        June 10, 2021 7:19 pm

        It’s been very easy for us to manage. People at Swank set everything up and gave us a link. You can set different types of permissions for users, and you can go through proxy or set up accounts to sign in (we went with setting up accounts because our systems were undergoing upgrades and we’re between systems librarians, and we only needed it for a class of 20 students). You have access to the movies you license for a year, so it really serves us well as a back up. We’ve been using it less than a month without any issues. I definitely recommend reaching out to them for more info.

  2. Alex K. permalink*
    June 14, 2021 6:13 pm

    I’ve been in this exact situation with faculty. Then I have to explain why they can’t just login to their netflix account and stream the whole movie for their online class.

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