Speaker: Katie Buehner, Head Librarian, Rita Benton Music Library, University of Iowa

Title: From Document to Documentary

Date: April 11, 2017 – 4191F, Helen C. White Hall


Katie Buehner firmly believes that “all librarians should be creators, as well as facilitators.” As Head of the Rita Benton music library at the University of Iowa, Katie practices what she preaches and has created dozens of videos for various organizations, projects and libraries. Her videos range from “how to” instructional videos to sophisticated educational videos with diverse humanities content.  Ex Libris, a group of five graduate students from the University of Wisconsin iSchool, brought Katie, and her colleague Colleen Theisen, to campus in order to gain insight and expertise for their own project, a series of public-facing video episodes that will narrate the personal story behind five medieval and early-modern books held in Memorial Library’s Special Collections.

Most educational videos currently on Youtube seem to fall into two camps. Either the content is delivered in a lecture style, slow and deliberate; or the video is engaging and fast-paced but is predominantly science-oriented. Katie’s mission is to encourage, support and create successful fast-paced and engaging videos with scholarly humanities content for public audiences. It doesn’t matter if your video is 4 minutes long or 24 minutes long.  If you can get a viewer to stay after the first minute, you’ve got something good.”


“If Books Could Talk…” Outtakes Episode. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DUqsTSJ3ZiE

Katie’s previous experiences and insights have shaped her approach, and are clearly outlined in her forthcoming book entitled A Music Librarian’s Guide to Creating Videos and Podcasts: Music Library Association Technical Reports (Middleton, WI: A-R Editions, 2017). One of the first pieces of advice is to remember that video production and editing demands more than a host of technical skills. The videographer often has to call upon coaching skills in order to put the videographee at ease. A relaxed, natural speaker/actor produces a more honest video. Another important aspect to consider is how the video will achieve the balance between offering rigorous content and delivering that content to the public. Katie suggests building this in to the video format and/or written script, depending on the goals of the project. Buehner also discussed the foundational stages of any successful video production: an initial idea, scripts, storyboards, good equipment, successful lighting and sound solutions, and professional editing software. She confessed that the final stage, the editing of the video, is the most time-consuming.  A concentrated mind needs a good chunk of time to take raw footage, analyze it, and make it into something great.

The Ex Libris group would like to publicly thank the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, the University Lectures Committee at the University of Wisconsin, the iSchool, the Center for the Humanities, and the Department of English for their support with funding, promotion and logistics.


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