What it is:

Like a screenshot, but with sound and motion, a screencast records what’s happening on your computer desktop, which can then be saved in a variety of formats, and used again and again.  Screencasting software records mouse movements, clicking, toggling between webpages, typing and usually, sound, to create short tutorials on whatever topic you choose.  Some screencasting software will allow you to be the star of your own screencast with the use of a camera, but don’t worry, we won’t be doing that in this exercise!

A screencast example created by the Sacramento Public Library:

How it works:

Some screencasting tools are browser-based which require no downloads.  In this case, you would simply go to the screencasting company’s website, watch a brief introduction, and click “Record” to make a screencast. Other companies do require a download, but still the basic procedure is the same.  In most cases, it is not necessary to create a user account, although you may have more options if you do so.  Most screencasting products have a free version, and a pro version.  For a fee, pro versions offer more features, such as editing, etc.

Why it’s useful for your library:

Screencasting allows librarians to create information literacy tutorials that can be accessed from any computer, at any time, by library patrons.  With screencasting, you can make information literacy instruction more accessible to your library patrons by offering it online 24/7, instead of in one-time, in-person classes.  A screencast can be embedded into a library catalog, or uploaded to sites like YouTube or Vimeo.  Possible screencast topics include: downloading audio and eBooks, searching the library catalog, searching databases, and more!    Move over PowerPoint, goodbye screenshots, and hello desktop movie making!

Create some-“thing”:

Don’t worry, creating a screencast is not as scary as it sounds!  In this exercise we’ll explore one screencasting tool, and hopefully, have a little fun.  You’re not required to share this screencast, although you certainly can if you want to!

Screencast-O-Matic is an easy, browser-based screencasting tool.  Watch the short tutorial, and then record your own screencast on any topic of your choice.  If you want to include audio in your screencast you will need a microphone.  You’ve got up to fifteen minutes for your screencast.  When you’re done you can save it to your computer, upload it to YouTube, or simply delete it. Okay, action!


Create a more polished, publish-ready screencast, including audio, and edited for excellence!  In the free version of SOM, editing is not available so plan out what you want to do and say before hand (screencast worksheet by Greg Notess).   Or, try Any Video Convertor for free video editing.


Blog about your experience and let us know what you did and didn’t like about screencasting.  Any problems? Surprises? Do you think it would be useful for the Crandall Library?

More to explore:

Free browser-based screencasting tools:

Screenr – Simple, easy to use, but with limited options.  Geared for uploading to social media.

Capture Fox – Easy Mozilla add-on.

Free screencasting software (download required):

Jing – Limited to 5 minute screencasts; easy social media sharing.

Screenpresso – Lots of features, including built-in editing.

Hosting tools for screencasts

Add a screencast to your library’s YouTube video channel!

Vimeo is nice, too.


Screencasting overview from EduCause

Choosing the right tool from


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