Flashing the Library – an animation competition at Georgia Tech

July 18, 2007, 2:48 pm

Many academic libraries have “term paper” contests (1 & 2) – or Book Collection Contests— or the recent trend of “make us a video to show how great the library is”– but we’re kicking it up. I humbly submit:


FLASH in the Pan 2007: Animation Challenge

This is just one of a buffet of “cool media projects” we have coming out this year and I’m pretty excited about this one. Essentially, it started as a video competition for students and an opportunity to pitch library products (software & equipment & materials) and services (help) that we offer. The original idea was a “library” themed video contest, which evolved to “life on campus,” and now finally (thankfully!) it is totally open. No theme! No limits! Just make it good!

We’re asking students to create a short video using Adobe Flash, which we will then turn around and present at an awards show and give away cool prizes. This project was conceived by Jon Bodnar and Alison Valk — I volunteered to come in and add a little social marketing sizzle. We were very fortunate to get Wacom to donate a tablet, and to use our connections to pull in representatives from Homestar Runner and Sanrio / Hello Kitty to serve as guest judges. I’m hoping to get Adobe to buy-in too, since we’re featuring their software, and we’re working out agreements with our neighbors Cartoon Network and Coca-Cola (both located literately across the street from campus.) Major players, cool technology, design and creativity—what’s not to like?

You can read Jon and Alison’s descriptions too, but here are a few quick notes of my own:

  • The contest allows us to create an emotional connection with patrons. This is especially helpful for incoming freshmen or students with minimal library experience. How can we stay on their radar for academic, creative, social, and technological needs? How can we present a suprise?
  • The contest demonstrations (or reinforces) that we’re more than books and study space.
  • The contest shows that we have software (which they need for class) and other equipment, such as video cameras, microphones, and laptops.
  • It allows us to show that we have books (tech books, design books, animation books, etc) and tutorials, as well as staff who can help them.
  • Hopefully it will create a community of users interested in animation– get them in touch and inspire future works of collobration.
  • We can promote our multimedia workshops/classes, which includes Flash and tons of other programs. (I also want to try a little manufactured ubiquity by inviting a group over to the café after a Flash class to talk about the contest, technology, design, all that, and in the process really capture a snapshot of student life. Maybe they’ll mention class or an assignment in which case I can play a “librarian” role, but it doesn’t always have to be about that — more later.) 
  • Our grand prize is a tablet (donated by Wacom)— we have several of these available now for checkout, giving us some cross promotional opportunities.
  • The contest gives is a chance to talk with faculty about something other than scholarly communication, information literary, budget cuts, and Michael Vick. We can target those who use Flash in the classroom, or other multimedia / design programs, and ask them to help us promote the contest. This could also help us appear less stogy to these faculty as well– giving us some relevance.
  • It allows us to have a competition, but also an awards show (in the library) –giving us more mileage. People might not have the time, interest, or skills to make a video (flash is fairly easy though) but they can drop by to watch the show. I doubt you’d have a big turnout for a “presentation of the award winning research paper”—but this allows us to create a campus event… and potentially even a media event.
  • Later we can place the videos online for anyone to watch and comment on– they won’t just die afterwards.
  • Ultimately this contest let’s us show that we don’t always take ourselves too seriously. The Library isn’t just all hard work — it has some personality. It can be fun and creative and a little crazy too. I feel our primary mission is to inspire students… but maybe my priorities are off?
  • Oh yeah, and the marketing campaign is pretty cool too. I’ll post on that later in the year with examples.

We’ve got a loose deal with Adobe to "sponsor" the event and we’re pretty close to getting a guest judge from Marvel.

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