Video resources — physical DVDs, VHS tapes (yes, we still have them) and streaming media databases — are very much utilized by the faculty teaching courses on an array of different subjects. DVDs and VHS tapes can be found in the library online catalog CUNY+, films in the streaming media collections can be searched more effectively through the new discovery tool OneSearch.

From time to time, we highlight a certain database to orient the users about its content and best features. This time we will profile Films on Demand from Infobase Learning.

Video clips from Films on Demand

Several films available through Films on Demand

Films On Demand are not cinema movies. It is a collection of 22,403 videos that include documentaries, news footage, lectures, and educational videos. The producers include BBC, NOVA Frontline, Ken Burns, California Newsreel, PBS, Reuters and dozens more of well-known domestic and international companies. This database is perfect for undergraduate course assignments when students have to get a brief introduction to a topic; in addition, these short films can be used to jumpstart a discussion in class. There are 29 subject areas that are divided into subcategories. The subject of Criminal Justice & Law (962 films total), for example, has four subcategories: Criminal Investigation, Criminal Justice System, Criminology, and Legal Studies.

The first screen of results when you browse by subject will give the user the option to sort the films either by the date of production or popularity. Then, almost each film can be viewed either as a whole or in segments. Each segment has a title that has to be selected from a drop-down menu — a nice feature if you know exactly what portion of the film you want to show in class. Similarly to practically all online databases, the options for narrowing down the results are presented in the side bar. The films can be narrowed down, for example, by type (documentary, educational or lecture & interview), by producer, sometimes language, and copyright date ranges.

On the individual film record level, there is bar of tabs for finding related films, sharing (URL for embedding, email, etc.), citation tools (APA, MLA, Chicago Style, and exporting into EasyBib), and creation of custom segments. On the right hand side portion of the screen, there is a window for the displaying the transcript for the whole film or for individual segments.

Don’t forget to create an individual account to make and save a list of your favorite titles.

Based on the statistics that the Library collected in 2016, the most popular films are “Issues and controversies in America,” “Amendment 13,” and “Amendment 14,” with more than a thousand views combined. There are 80 active users (those who have individual accounts), six of which joined in 2016. These individual users have created 105 playlists.

Give Films on Demand a try and let us know what you and your students think of this database.

Maria Kiriakova

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