Help me help you help me help you: Week 3 Digital Story Critique

At the end of last week, my commitment to finding new outlets for digital stories to critique grew stronger than ever. Although I may decide to use a TEDTalk or Reddit for a story critique down the road, I wanted to try something else. As a reminder, not only do I have to find digital stories that interest me, but also try my best to locate ones that fit my aforementioned theme of “Libraries and Librarianship”. In the process, however, I found a story on the (admittedly conventional) outlet of YouTube while searching for “library stories”.  I happened upon a video titled “Education and Empowerment at the New York Public Library” and was immediately sold:

I love the New York Public Library. Having spent many a free day perusing their collection, I find it to be a deeply inspiring place. With such a diverse population and a plethora of services to accommodate the needs of so many different users, the NYPL is definitely on a mission to help so many people “do it themselves”. Specific examples include improving early childhood literacy, providing a place for K-12 students for academic success, and allowing so many people to access the internet (who cannot at home).

My critique of this digital story will focus on the following criteria: Story, Research, and Media Grammar.

Story-This promotional video displayed an adequate command of storytelling. The video opens with an introduction that includes the library’s mission to “inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.” From this point, the viewer is taken through a series of personal interviews that illustrate the library as a place of empowerment for many different user types. The only area in which the “story” aspect of the video falls short is that they could have gone farther with this approach. Including more interviews and personal stories would definitely enrich the experience.

Research– The Librarians of NYPL (or whoever directed this video, metadata does not reveal the specific author) provide a lot of helpful research. The most apparent instance of this is the selection of so many individuals to provide glowing testimonials. Furthermore, the inclusion of statistics on childhood literacy, the NYC immigrant population, and internet access help drive the point that “libraries empower users” home. More often than not, thorough research (including statistics) can only help a narrative rather than detract from it. Using TOO MUCH research, however, can also be detrimental, but this video includes just enough.

Media Grammar– The high production value, background music, and clear testimonials revealed absolutely no technological hiccups. The story flows together very nicely and each section includes the perfect transition to the next one. I’ve encountered many similar videos with uneven sound levels, sloppy video editing, and a lack of coherence between sections. Lastly, the section titles were easy to see and clearly established the content of each part of the video This was a very effective story in terms of media grammar.

Overall, an excellent digital story. The only improvements I can think of are including more testimonials. No digital story is perfect, but so many are VERY VERY GOOD!

My earliest memory of the New York Public Library (I feel like I was actually present):

library ghost

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