Tag Team Tech: Wrestling with Teens and Technology August 2013

Using Vine in the Library

Sarah Ludwig

August 2012


Vine is a free app, owned by Twitter, for iOS and Android devices. Users can create short (about 6 seconds) videos by pointing their device’s camera at something and touching the screen. Because the user can touch the screen as many times as they want over the course of the video, they can create short films that seem edited, jumping from location to location or playing around with stop motion or tricks of the camera. For example, a user might film themselves dropping a shoe to the ground and then jump-cutting to the shoe on their foot, making it look as though they’ve put on a shoe by dropping it. Or, using objects, users can create innovative and fascinating animations. Mashable features particularly amazing Vines, featuring origami assembling itself, flower petals arranging themselves into letters, or paper butterflies emerging from paper cocoons. (In fact, Mashable hosts weekly Vine challenges with themes and “re-Vines” notable entries.)

On the other hand, users can create more straightforward Vines, offering viewers a slice of life, a glimpse of something funny, or anything else they want to share–a more Instragram-like use of the app.

To register for Vine, sign in with your Twitter account or sign up with your email. I recommend creating an account for your library (or yourself as a librarian), so that your students or teen patrons can easily find and follow you. The new re-vine feature allows you to share the videos of others, which is great if you want to highlight students’ work in the library.

Like Instragram, teens are loving Vine. In fact, since Instagram started offering videos recently, many of my students have disparaged that service, claiming that they’ll never look at anyone’s Instagram videos. The New York Times recently wrote of Instagram’s new service that it was the “death of fantasy,” that “video is imperfect. It’s a lot harder to craft a perfect video of your outdoor picnic, of waves crashing at the beach.”  In my experience, Vine continues to be used to make mini-movies, while Instagram tends to be more “a day in the life.” This may–and probably will–change; Mashable reported on June 29 that Vine shares on Twitter are dropping. That said, it still seems to be used by my students for video far more than Instagram.

What makes Vine such a great tool for libraries? It’s easy to use and at the fingertips of any teen. For that reason, it’s perfect for both creative projects and for sharing the library with users. In addition, Vine makes the embed code for each video very easy to copy and paste into any browser.

(Note: If I link to a Vine user, I link to their Twitter profile, since you can’t, as of right now, link to someone’s Vine profile. The Twitter link will get you there; just look for Vine links in their tweets.)

Film Festivals

The most straightforward way to use Vine is to have your teens use it to create short films. To share their films, teens can tag their videos with a predetermined hashtag, like the name of your library. The films could be based on a theme, or you can just ask the students to be as creative as possible. You may want to distinguish between stop motion and short films. These films could be part of a contest, or they could just be shared on your library blog or Facebook page as a way to get others excited about the library. This is a great activity for Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week, or any other special event you’re holding in the library.

Get inspired by watching the videos of super-talented Vine users like Adam Goldberg (for funny short films), Khoa (for mind-blowing stop motion), and Claire Comins (for cute films)

 Book Trailers and Booktalks

Librarians can use Vine to film extremely short booktalks. What’s the one thing you want to say about the book, the one thing that will draw in a reader? It’s an exercise in creativity and brevity. Show the cover, then yourself hooking in the reader, and then your library’s logo. This last part is key: If you are able to brand all of your library videos, they will look that much more professional and be recognizable to your teens. Here’s a sample trailer made by the NJ State Library. These two examples by librarian Ann Vega are a perfect example of how to use text to create a booktalk: Wonder and The Fault in Our Stars.

Your teens can make book talks and book trailers of their own! Here’s a great example of a trailer made by teens at the Northbrook Public Library. Think of the learning that will take place in trying to condense a book into six seconds. What absolutely must be included? What will allow the viewer to get a taste of the book and compel them to find out more? Here are some examples of book trailers made by adults at a publishing house, which make you smile and perhaps type the name of the books into Google to see what they’re all about.

Teen-created book trailers can include action figures, hand-drawn art, or live actors. The point is to make the book stick in the mind of the viewer. Funny costumes, silly special effects, or surprises will all help engage the viewer. Let your teens run with their creativity and they’ll make something remarkable.

Library Tutorials and Tours

If you are a new librarian, or new to your library (like I am!), use Vine to introduce yourself to your users on your library’s website. Or animate a message welcoming them to the library, whether you’re new or not.

For some ideas about using Vine as a teaching tool, check out Emily Lloyd’s 6-second tutorials on using Overdrive and searching for audiobooks in the library catalog. These tutorials can be as simple as showing a user how to use the self-check machine, or where to find the library’s list of databases. For tour ideas, show off book displays, have students film their favorite places in the library, or highlight a different collection every week. If there’s anything at all that you want to call attention to in your library, Vine it–and better yet, do it in a creative way, by making books jump off the shelves or make a rainbow on the circ desk.

Promote the Library

This is a bit of a catch-all category. Vine is great for sharing what you’re doing in the library (check out how Justin Hoenke uses it to draw viewers into teen programs and activities), reminding people of programs, and highlighting special services and programs. If you would snap a picture of something, consider Vine-ing it instead.




Ludwig used with permissionSarah Ludwig is the Dean of Digital & Library Services at The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT. She comes to this position having managed two independent school libraries (Wilbraham & Monson and Hamden Hall Country Day), as well as multiple departments at the award-winning Darien Library. ABC-CLIO published Sarah’s book, Starting from Scratch: Building a Teen Library Program, in June 2011. In 2010, Ludwig was selected as an American Library Association Emerging Leader. She is an instructor for Simmons College’s continuing education program and speaks locally and nationally on topics such as promoting reading, digital and information literacy, and integrating library skills into the curriculum.



  1. […] Using Vine with teens in public and school libraries […]

  2. Elisabeth A. says:

    How do you deal withe the 17+ age rating for Vine? Have parents complained about promoting an age-inappropriate service when you have students make book trailers, etc? I know students are using it, but I wonder if it is Ok to use it in that way. Making library videos for them to see may be different because they wouldn’t need an account, I suppose, to just watch the embedded videos. Instagram has a lower age rating, and might be safer, but if it isn’t where the kids are.. hmm. 
    Or did the age rating change back?

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Elizabeth,
    The kids have signed up for personal accounts–I have not asked or required them to do so. If they have accounts and want to participate in a contest or activity, then great! If they or their parents are not comfortable with using the app, then that’s fine, too. It’s all optional. 🙂

  4. […] host your own. Mashable also offers some great pro tips. For more ideas with vine you can check out VOYA. You do need to have a smartphone or tablet to make these videos.  To see some of the ways we have […]