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Tech Success Story: Austin Public Library & Facebook Live

2016 December 20

In December’s public library newsletter, we asked for your technology success stories, and I’m so pleased to publish our very first submission from Amy Mullin, Electronic Resources Librarian at the Austin Public Library about their use of Facebook Live. Read on to hear from Amy and if you’ve got a tech success stories  – big or small – consider submitting it here!

Screenshot of Austin Public Library's Facebook Live videos

Screenshot of Austin Public Library’s Facebook Live library

The following was written by Amy Mullin, Electronic Resources Librarian at the Austin Public Library, Austin, TX. Contact her at  or 512-974-7462 for questions!

At the Austin Public Library, we’ve been looking for new ways to promote our Virtual Library. As the Electronic Resources Librarian, I write blog posts about our digital collections but have wanted to use a more dynamic medium. Online tutorials can be dry and they go out of date frequently. Flashy promos work for awareness, but don’t help users with tricky apps and interfaces.

I was approached by the Social Media Committee chair, Cesar Garza, about using the new Facebook Live streaming video feature for Virtual Library clips. Teaming up with reference librarian Meg Holle, we worked on guidelines to make our videos informative and entertaining. We named our series Q&APL Live, which “aims to make you a power user of Austin Public Library with live video questions and answers on Facebook.”

We have streamed 8 videos so far, covering Virtual Library topics, health and craft programs, the Austin History Center archives, and general print collections. They’ve had nearly 7,000 combined views so far. Besides the numbers, patrons tell us that these videos have helped them use the Virtual Library. There are 1 or 2 scheduled each month far into 2017, including more hands-on technology demos. We plan to produce Spanish-language videos about our Biblioteca Virtual.

We’ve identified several advantages to this format. Q&APL Live is interactive, not static. Viewers type their questions in the video’s Comment box, and we answer them on the spot. The video is posted on APL’s Facebook page after the broadcast, allowing people to view it at any time. We link to relevant Q&APL Live videos from our Virtual Library pages and FAQs, such as the video about borrowing Kindle eBooks on our OverDrive page.

The presenters and viewers like that the videos are fun! We can put more personality into demonstrating Library resources than with scripted tutorials. Presenters and viewers interact with and learn from each other. The live streaming format means that we encounter errors and make mistakes, and viewers get to see how we resolve them. The casual tone helps decrease the common anxiety felt when using new technology. Best of all, Facebook Live videos take minimal staff time and zero budget by using equipment that we already have: an iPhone for filming, a laptop to monitor comments, tablets for demos. If you want a quick, cheap and fun way to promote your library to your patrons, Facebook Live is worth exploring.

Many thanks to Amy for sharing her tech success story! Please consider submitting your own here. And, as always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us here at Continuing Education & Consulting at the State Library – 800-252-4855 (toll free in Texas).


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  1. November 12, 2017

    I love this story. Keep up the good work. Reaching beyond your walls and across generations at the same time is spectacular. It also makes perfect sense to pioneer this project in Austin. We too are always looking for ways to connect.

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