Boston College Libraries Faculty Newsletter



Navigating Multimedia II

As I mentioned in last month’s article "Navigating Multimedia", Internet resources for multimedia are quickly multiplying. In this article, I’ve outlined a few more resources for BC faculty and students by focusing on our campus resources for digital media and initiatives by educational vendors. Faculty use media, both in and out of the classroom, in a variety of ways: full length screenings, video clips in class or via a WebCT course, assigned viewing of reserve materials, etc. Multimedia images can complement the subject matter or be the subject matter. Such diverse needs require flexibility on the part of the library, as well as partnership with other departments on campus, Instructional Design and eTeaching Services in particular.


The Streamed Film Collection gives Boston College patrons access to complete audiovisual works via the web and the BC network, on campus and off. Obtaining digital rights ensures that the BC community has access to full, web-deliverable works in accordance with the vendors' copyright policies. The active collection is streamed via BC's helix server and through the Libraries' digital repository, Digitool.


Digital licenses are investigated based on several factors:

  • Faculty need and curricular distance learning requirements.
  • Frequent demand for analog copy.
  • General enrichment of the streaming collection, for example will the title assist patrons in active teaching initiatives?
  • Correspondence with such aspects of the University Library mission as providing information resources in convenient forms, supporting digital initiatives, and promoting user self-sufficiency.


The decision to purchase digital licenses is based on additional factors including (but not limited to):

  • Cost of the requested title
  • Budget available
  • Written license requirements
  • Technical restrictions (e.g. file format)  
  • The nature of the course: the frequency with which it will be offered and the number of students involved.


This is a relatively new field, and some vendors are not offering digital rights to their material, or are placing non-practical restrictions on their use. This market is changing quickly, as are vendor contracts. Our hope is that over time more resources for streaming will come available for practical purchases of digital rights. All licenses purchased are asynchronous and in perpetuity (meaning accessible to the entire BC community via a secure site for the lifetime of the format).


Some technical information for the more curious

The Streamed Film Collection standard file format for streaming is Real Media (.rm), which requires Real Player to play. Real Player is compatible with both Mac and PC platforms. If files are provided by the vendor, we request a bit rate at higher Internet broadband speeds (e.g. 768kbps). Vendor licenses vary with contract particulars.  If a vendor allows us to create our own streaming files, we prefer to do so from a DVD copy, but VHS (and other limited formats) can be converted in house at the Media Center if necessary. All source media is owned by the Library.


The holdings in our Streamed Film Collection were recently updated. Currently 37 titles are available. We expect more to be added in the upcoming months, as we now own the digital rights to over 100 titles from PBS, Films for the Humanities and Sciences, and California Newsreel. Some of the more popular titles available are “Race: The Power and the Illusion”, “Ethnic Notions”, “Black Is, Black Ain’t”, just to name a few.  I am more than happy to provide a complete list upon request (


To access the Streamed Film Collection:

  • /libraries/centers/media/resources/
  • Click on “Streamed Film Collection”
  • You’ll be prompted to log into the Digital Collections site—use your BC username and password.
  • This will bring you into the Media Center’s Streamed Film Collection main site, which includes technical requirements and contact information.
  • Click on ‘browse the streaming film collection’ to see all titles available.
  • If you would like to view a title, click on the ‘.ram’ icon next to the title, or from the catalog page.
  • RealPlayer (if installed on your computer) should launch automatically and start the title from the beginning  (download Real Player at


Boston College Front Row:   
 “Boston College Front Row is a Web site that offers free access through streaming media to tapes of cultural and scholarly events at Boston College. Front Row is a service of Boston College Magazine and is produced by the Office of Marketing Communications in partnership with the colleges, schools, departments, and programs of the University” (From the Web site’s FAQ).

Weren’t able to make a lecture or special event?  Want to watch the event again?  Thinking about assigning your students a project about a visiting lecturer?  Front Row is an excellent resource to see all the significant events that have happened on campus.


Annenberg Media:  
A well known publisher of instructional materials, Annenberg Media has started a 'Video On-Demand (VOD)' streaming video service through their website. This is a free service for instructional use (it requires you to sign up for a login and a password). The Media Center owns many of Annenberg Media’s series on VHS or DVD. Some of the popular titles now available through their VOD service are:

  • Race to Save the Planet
  • American Cinema
  • Exploring the World of Music
  • Discovering Psychology
  • Death—A Personal Understanding
  • The Western Tradition
  • The Africans
  • Americas
  • Ethics in America


FRONTLINE documentaries are produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation, which is a major producer of programs for PBS, the U.S. public television network. These documentaries often explore controversial subjects from an objective and well researched perspective.  Selected FRONTLINE programs are now available to view online. The programs are streamed in QuickTime (Mac & PC) and Windows Media (PC) formats. Some titles available: A Class Divided, The Age of AIDS, The Mormons, When Kids Get Life, and The Tank Man, to name a few. The titles are available in full length and have individually designated websites. The program’s website often includes additional, supplemental material for the documentary, such as interactive maps, timelines, interviews, and instruction resources.


Similar to BC’s FrontRow programming, MITWorld is a free, open streaming media web site of the most significant public events at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It features unedited, unmodified videos of the most recent speakers and guests from across the campus and around the world. Video content can be searched by keyword, or browsed by sponsoring department hosts. MITWorld is a project of the Professional Education Programs at MIT's School of Engineering. Close to 90 videos are added every year and they are to remain there permanently.
I hope these resources are interesting and informative!  If you’ve any questions, please contact me at


Ed TallentJulie DeCesare
Digital Media Reference Librarian




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