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February 3, 2009

Jennifer McLennan
(202) 296-2296 x 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org

Student videos offer unique views on information sharing

Washington, DC – February 3, 2009 – Four student productions are winners of the second annual Sparky Awards, a contest organized by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) and adopted by campuses nationwide that calls on entrants to creatively illustrate in a short video the value of sharing ideas.

Selected by a distinguished panel of media scholars, educators, librarians, students, and others, the winning videos offer potent and colorful glimpses of how students see sharing of knowledge spurring innovation, solving problems, and improving lives. The winners were announced on January 24 at a public screening held in connection with the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Denver. The videos will also be screened at the Campus MovieFest Southern Regional Grand Finale in Atlanta March 28 and 29, 2009.

This year’s winners are:

To Infinity and Beyond
By Danaya Panya, Sebastian Rivera, Hemanth Sirandas, Uriel Rotstein, and Jaymeni Patel, University of Illinois at Chicago Honors College

How to Make Things Easier
By Taejin Kim, Savannah College of Art and Design

By Christopher Wetzel, Ohio Northern University

By Cécile Iran, Laurie Glassmann, Christophe Zidler, Aldric de Villartay, University of Versailles-Saint Quentin, France

Uriel Rotstein, spokesperson for the winning team, noted that their video was created as an assignment in a course called “Communication in the Digital Age,” which explored ideas of communication, the importance of sharing information, and issues involving the movement to digitize information. “We all learned about the importance of open access to information through making our entry for the Sparky Awards and have become open access supporters ourselves,” he said.
Taejin Kim, an international student and creator of How to Make Things Easier, said he was inspired by daily life, adding, “I strongly believe that someone's small idea could be a big solution to someone else.”

“I knew a bit about the public domain and Creative Commons licenses before the project,” said Chris Wetzel, “but I was surprised by the full scope of the different Creative Commons variations I learned about from participating in the Sparky Awards.” Each of the winning entries is available under a Creative Commons use license, which enables creators to easily mark their work with the freedoms they want it to carry and tells users what rights they have beyond those under copyright.

“I’m so pleased to see the Sparky Awards take off this year,” said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC. “The breadth and energy of the entries especially make clear that the YouTube generation understands the imperative for information sharing. Working with students on new media projects, as so many campuses are, is a perfect way to help them gain experience navigating copyright issues. I’d like to thank all of the libraries and faculty who made the 2008 contest their own, as well as our sponsors and judges who ensured its success.”

Judges for the second annual Sparky Awards were:

  • Nicole Allen, director of The Student PIRGs’ Make Textbooks Affordable campaign
  • Peter Decherney, Assistant Professor of Cinema Studies at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Barbara DeFelice, Digital Resources Program Director at Dartmouth College Library
  • Rick Johnson, SPARC’s founding Executive Director and now a consultant and senior advisor to SPARC
  • Rich Jones, student and leader of the Boston University chapter of Students for Free Culture
  • Jennifer McLennan, SPARC’s Communications Director
  • Kembrew McLeod, an independent documentary filmmaker and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of Iowa
  • Jessica Reynoso of Campus MovieFest
  • Crit Stuart, Director of Research, Teaching & Learning at the Association of Research Libraries
  • Anu Vedantham, Director of the Weigle Information Commons at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries
  • Mike Wesch, a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University whose videos on technology, education, and information have been viewed over ten million times.

Developed by SPARC, the Sparky Awards is co-sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, Campus MovieFest, the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Students for FreeCulture, and The Student PIRGs.

The Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,000 plus a Sparky Award statuette. The two Runners Up each receive $500. All the winners will receive a copy of “Freedom of Expression®: Resistance and Repression in the Age of Intellectual Property,” a documentary film by Kembrew McLeod that looks at free speech and fair use.

For more details on the contest, see the SPARKY Awards Web site at

SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), with SPARC Europe and SPARC Japan, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC is a founder of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, a coalition of patient, academic, research, and publishing organizations that supports open public access to the results of publicly funded research.