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September 22, 2009

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

Video contest winners to be selected by leading faculty and young advocates

Washington, DC – The organizers of the popular Sparky Awards, a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of information sharing, have announced that Pat Aufderheide, Director of the Center for Social Media and professor at American University, and Ben Moskowitz, organizer of the Open Video Alliance and co-founder of the Berkeley Students for Free Culture chapter, will help select the winners of the 2009 international contest. These additions to the judges’ panel reflect how vital the open sharing of information is to both students and faculty, and that the Sparky Awards is a unique forum to bring together stakeholders from across campus to the discussion on access to research.

The third annual 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 well suited for adoption as a class assignment as well as 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 and balancing features such as fair use. Colleges and universities across North America are hosting local versions of the Sparky Awards to get maximum benefit from the third-annual installment of the contest. Other institutions everywhere are promoting international entries through

“The value of working with students on the legal reuse of online material cannot be overstated,” said Aufderheide. “Students are the vanguard of collaborative, participatory remix culture, whose vitality will depend upon a good understanding of copyright. Too often they fear the law, when in fact they can and should use their rights. The Sparky Awards are an excellent way for students to learn by doing and to find the tools and resources available to them on campus. I’m so pleased to participate this year.”

Moskowitz added, “By now, creating video is a basic part of information literacy. The Sparky Awards present a fantastic opportunity for students to share the message of openness and showcase their creative skills. More people have access to video tools than ever before, so this year’s entries are bound to be the best yet.”

The full 2009 judges’ panel represents the breadth of the coalition driving the success of this contest and, with it, conversations on the value of information sharing. Judges include:

  • Nicole Allen, director of the Student PIRGs’ Make Textbooks Affordable campaign
  • Pat Aufderheide, director of the Center for Social Media and professor at American University
  • Adrian Ho, Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University of Western Ontario
  • Rick Johnson, SPARC’s founding Executive Director and now a consultant and senior advisor to SPARC
  • Jennifer McLennan, SPARC’s Communications Director
  • Ben Moskowitz, co-organizer of the Open Video Alliance and founder of the Berkeley Students for Free Culture chapter
  • Mark A. Puente, Director of Diversity Programs at the Association of Research Libraries
  • Jessica Reynoso, Associate Producer for Campus MovieFest
  • Anu Vedantham, Director of the Weigle Information Commons at the University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Entries in the international Sparky Awards competition must be received before December 6, 2009. To be eligible, videos must be freely available on the Internet and available for use under a Creative Commons License. Information on regional contests in Utah, Florida, Illinois, British Columbia, Texas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee is available through the contest Web site.

The international award-winning videos will be announced in conjunction with the January 2010 American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Boston and the Campus MovieFest 2010 Southern Regional Grand Finale. The Grand Prize winner will receive a cash prize of $1,000 along with a Sparky Award statuette, a copy of Apple Final Cut Studio, and an iPod Nano (courtesy of Campus MovieFest). The Runner Up and People’s Choice Award winners will each receive $500 plus a personalized award certificate. At the discretion of the judges, additional Special Merit Awards may be designated.

The 2009 Sparky Awards are sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, Campus MovieFest, Penn Libraries, Students for Free Culture, and the Student PIRGs, and organized by SPARC. 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.