By Carolyn Schubert, Health Sciences and Nursing Librarian, James Madison University
As the liaison for Health Sciences and Nursing, I am constantly receiving more and more requests for video resources demonstrating health assessment, counseling, and other procedures. While publishers like Alexander Street Press and Films on Demand are facilitating some of these demands, the copyright laws for streaming other media is an ugly quagmire, as UCLA found out. So how can my Nursing faculty teach an online elective course about the image of nurses in American media? Also, how can I ensure universal accessibility to these media resources for our diverse population? And what is my role in navigating these murky waters?
Collaborating with our Center for Instructional Technology, the Director of Media Resources, the faculty member and myself, we were able to brainstorm and research legal alternatives for some media titles for the interdisciplinary nursing and media studies course. Getting streaming rights for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is far beyond the budget of our primarily undergraduate institution. However, I was able to help the faculty member research alternative arenas, such as Netflix, Amazon’s Instant Video, and Hulu. By exploring these resources, we found that we could “MacGyver” a solution.
The next step was trying to conceptualize how to explain to students that they would need to connect through these alternative mediums. Ultimately, the faculty member was able to explain the short-term, 2-month subscription or video rental from these services as being analogous (but infinitely cheaper) than purchasing a textbook. These individual acquisitions also remove the library’s copyright situation of trying to digitize and stream media through our learning management system.
From a larger perspective, effective use of media relies on structuring the media in an accessible format for all patrons. In the past year, I have had to evaluate various video streaming products. Many of us have struggled with the file format face-offs such as Beta vs. VHS or HD DVD vs. Blu-ray; streaming media presents similar challenges, such as cross-browser compatibility, cross-platform compatibility, and video file format and player compatibility. These technical issues are just the beginning. Previous experience at a highly diverse community college introduced me to the accessibility issues related to creating media resources. As a public institution, we had to comply with the 508 regulations regarding accessibility.
In my current position, I was able to initiate discussion with product vendors, inform them of the compliance issues, and review what other products were in compliance. While my campus won’t be setting the tone regarding eBook adoption, requiring accessibility components is something I can do to protect the investment of my institution. Also, this topic led me to explore what I could do to make my own tutorials compliant. With the Director of Instruction and the Instruction Committee and using what I had previously learned, I developed workflows and best practices for new tutorials.
In this new age of librarianship, I find myself having to address media resource questions, not just the traditional literature or research processes. As more of my faculty contemplate creating their own tutorials or having students create their own digital stories, I can rely on these experiences to help prepare everyone working with these new technologies and developing new literacies.