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April 9, 2009

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


Competition showcases student videos, promotes library services 
and offers instructors a fun and thought-provoking class assignment

Washington, DC – April 9, 2009 – The organizers of the popular Sparky Awards, which recognize the best new short videos on the value of information sharing, are calling on colleges and universities to organize their own campus video competitions in 2009 to get maximum benefit from the third-annual installment of the contest.

Well-suited for adoption as a class assignment, the Sparky Awards invite contestants to submit videos of two minutes or less that imaginatively portray the benefits of the open, legal exchange of information. The contest is an opportunity to promote library services, including media services or the information commons, where students can edit video, browse media, work collaboratively and learn about copyright.

Last year Brigham Young University (BYU), Penn State University, and Dartmouth College were among the campuses that organized local Sparky contests. “The experience was remarkable,” said BYU librarian Randy Olsen. “Although our contest was open for less than a month, we received seven submissions prepared by 58 students. The night we screened the entries I invited the video producers to introduce their works. In every case the students spoke articulately, even passionately, about open access and it was obvious that they had become conversant with all of the issues we as librarians care so much about. By the end of the evening I felt that our investment in the awards – an iTouch and two fifty dollar checks – was money well spent.”

Entries in the international Sparky Awards competition must be received between April 9 and December 6, 2009. To be eligible, videos must be freely available on the Internet and available for use under a Creative Commons License.

In addition to the international Grand Prize and Runner-up winners selected by a distinguished jury, the organizers are adding a People’s Choice Award this year, which will give visitors to the Sparky Web site a chance to vote for their favorite entry in the international competition.  People’s Choice voting will be open between December 8, 2009 and January 30, 2010, after all entries have been received.

The international award-winning videos will be announced in conjunction with the January 2010 American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Boston, where the winners will be screened. The national Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 along with a Sparky Award statuette. The Runner Up and People’s Choice winners will each receive $500 plus a personalized award certificate. At the discretion of the judges, additional Special Merit Awards may be designated.

For details on the contest and tips on organizing a local competition, visit the Sparky Awards Web site at

THE SPARKY AWARDS are organized and sponsored by SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), an alliance of academic libraries and research institutions that promotes new scholarly communication models that expand sharing of information via the Internet. SPARC is a founder of the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, representing taxpayers, patients, physicians, researchers, and institutions that support open public access to taxpayer-funded research.