Our students report on the LA Public Library Cuts

Tuesday’s ballot gives Angelenos a chance to vote on Measure L, which would increase funding for Los Angeles’ public library system.

Photo by Sheila Thomson

I’ve been following the issue since the students in my J310 class last fall worked on a group project documenting the impact of the cuts on patrons and library staff.   They created a multimedia site, LA Library Cuts, which features what for many of the students was their first effort at shooting and editing video for the web.  They reported on 12 of the library’s 73 branches as well as from downtown’s Central Library.

Many of our students found staff reluctant to talk, even after  the  Central Library’s public relations department gave them  permission to do interviews.  In the end, some librarians wouldn’t give interviews to our students (members of the Librarians Guild are among the most willing to talk.)

Some students located the Friends of the Library group members for their stories, discovering that some of these volunteers not only raise money for their neighborhood branch (often through used book sales) but also pay for landscaping and even help with keeping libraries clean.

How they produced the microsite:

  • Students worked mainly in pairs.
  • Most students used Flip video cameras for their interviews and iMovie to edit (discovering the limitations of linear editing) their stories.
  • A group of students created the site on Posterous, which allows you to directly upload video without going through a third-party host such as YouTube.  They also created a map with the aim of including the branches covered but the semester ended before they were able to finish.
  • At the end, students sent out Facebook, Twitter and other social media notices about the project to their own networks.

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