[Videolib] FMG Streaming Subscription

From: Sarah McCleskey <Sarah.E.McCleskey@hofstra.edu>
Date: Tue May 26 2009 - 12:52:40 PDT

Hi all,

As there seems to be some interest in this topic, I'll summarize our experience with the trial. We set up the trial by IP address so that we could mimic our ezproxy access.

I had faculty from across the disciplines test: anthropology, drama, English, religion, communications, speech-language-hearing sciences, business, art therapy. I also had staff in Faculty Computing test, since I suspect they will have to do some classroom, home, and Blackboard-related support.

Overall, response was extremely positive. The content is impressive; over 5000 titles in the "Master Academic Collection." Several of the testers used videos in class and through Blackboard during the trial. Some examples of titles used: "Young, Muslim, and French: Stories of Assimilation and Defiance," "Last Call for Guinness? A Famous Brand Adapts to the 21st Century," and "Shakespeare: The Wars of the Roses."

We did have some technical difficulties with the streaming. FMG is in the process of converting all the streaming files to Flash format. (They are converting hundreds of titles a week, I believe, so soon they should all be Flash.) Some still are available only via Windows Media player or QuickTime format. With the Flash format, the streaming is close to seamless and "real time." I had some real trouble streaming / buffering with QuickTime (on my 3 year old Mac at home) but no trouble when on campus using Windows Media player. I was able to get technical support during the trial, and I believe that as a customer this will not be a problem.

The search mechanism is a bit odd. The default search is a keyword. It's great for discovery, because each film is broken down into segments, and each segment has a detailed description. However, at the time of testing there was no title search function. I am told by FMG that we can enable the title search function when we have the full subscription. The in-depth description of the segments is a real bonus. Each title has a stable URL, so it's easy to embed that or link to it in Blackboard, your web catalog, wherever. I don't think the segments have individual URLs.

Based on the positive response from teaching faculty across the curriculum, we decided to subscribe for 2009-2010. As a sort of trial period for us for the summer, we will begin a (less expensive) subscription to the Humanities and Social Sciences Collections (about 3500 titles) on June 30 (pending legal approval of the license), prorated for the last 2 months of our fiscal year. I am very interested to see what we can do once the subscription is up and running. According to the documentation, I should be able (as an administrator) to measure use very easily, see what titles are being used, etc. This is important to us for evaluation of the value of the subscription.

I mentioned the discovery tool provided by the segment descriptions. We have discussed whether to put a link to each title into our online catalog as a way to promote the database. I inquired from FMG is MARC records were available, and was told these could be provided for $3.00 each. I think we will not go this route. It's not just the expense of the records, although that would be hefty for 5000 titles; we also don't have a large systems staff, and are not highly skilled in Millennium load profile tables, so this might be beyond our capabilities! I expect we will try a couple of approaches. One will be modifying cataloging records and adding 856 fields to titles we already own in DVD or VHS. The other will be using the administrative function to see which titles are heavily used, and adding those to the online catalog.

I had a question from a vendor about how this subscription might impact our purchasing of DVDs. I think this is actually a win/win for all of us. As a subscriber, we can purchase FMG titles from them at a 50% discount off the regular price; we will occasionally need to purchase a title (for example, a professor wants to take the DVD to xxx country to teach a summer class, doesn't have internet access, etc.). So in that regard, I will be buying all FMG titles direct from FMG. However, the money for this subscription is from our electronic resources budget, not from my media purchasing budget. So I will actually increase the purchasing power of my media budget, because I won't have to buy as many FMG titles at close-to-full price.

We see this subscription as just *one* way that the library can legally provide access to streaming video for our students. It's a piece of the puzzle. We have had many discussions about purchasing digital rights, providing streaming video to students, TEACH, etc. The "philosophy" we agreed on is that the FMG product is an appropriate resource for the library to provide for our constituents. We (as a library) are not able to provide budget for streaming of (for example) feature films; Swank is offering this service now, but we feel that costs for this type of thing (for example, a journalism professor who wants the whole class to watch "Good Night and Good Luck") should be borne by the department or passed along to students via a technology fee.

Please feel free to ask more questions. I will know a lot more about it when we start the "real" subscription. I'm very excited about it, and plan to spend some time over the summer learning how to use the database and figuring out how to promote it to our constituents.


Sarah E. McCleskey
Head of Access Services
Acting Director, Film and Media Library
112 Axinn Library
123 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
516-463-5076 (o)
516-463-4309 (f)

VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Tue May 26 12:53:08 2009

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