The SPARKY Awards - A Contest to Promote the Open Exchange of Information
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If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.
- George Bernard Shaw

Host the 2011 Sparky Awards on your campus

The Sparky Awards is a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of sharing, and aims to broaden the discussion of access to scholarly research by inviting students to express their views creatively. This year, students may submit their entries to local contests as well as the national one.

At BYU… the experience was remarkable. 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. –Randy Olsen, University Librarian, Brigham Young University) [Read more...(PDF)]

View the 2009-2010 host sites

How would hosting the Sparky Awards on campus help you and your library?

  • The Sparky Awards are a great start to a different kind of conversation with faculty. Video creation can inspire script-writing, improve group collaboration, and provide new media skills useful in many majors. Video projects are easy to integrate in a variety of disciplines. You could talk about a different way to really engage students in coursework, and the importance of helping students to re-use content in legal ways.
  • Your students will learn crucial, valuable lessons, including the parameters for using copyrighted materials in video and the value of information sharing in general.
  • The contest is an opportunity to promote library services, including the information commons or media services, and underscore that the library is a key part of everyone’s learning experience. The library can be the place to edit video, browse media, work collaboratively and learn about citations and copyright.

How do you host your own Sparky Awards?

  • It’s simple. Make the national contest your template; all the fine print is done. Set a deadline that works for you, sometime in advance of the national deadline on December 6, 2009; name a panel of judges who will help attract attention on your campus; and offer your own prizes. Video cameras and iPods are popular prizes.
  • All Sparky materials will be customizable, including the poster, postcard, and voting ballot [LINK]. Take a look at for submission guidelines.
  • Host a screening of all the entries from your campus, before or after you’ve named the winners.
  • Encourage local entrants to submit to the national contest, or send only your winners, as an added prize or opportunity for nationwide exposure for your campus’s best. We’ll highlight local winners in national contest promotions, as well.

Here are a few tips on getting faculty attention from recent campus participants:

  • Find the right faculty members. Identify anyone who uses video in class, regardless of discipline. Video is a popular tool courses from English to medicine. We’ve learned health-related classes are especially great targets, since access to information is such a key issue in health and medicine. On many campuses, freshman writing seminars love video projects.
  • Write a personal letter to individuals on your faculty. Useful talking points are available at
  • Demonstrate use by other faculty members. These videos from Penn on “Thinking Creatively about Video Assignments” feature five educators talking in detail about their experience using video in class. (See

For more information, or to register to host the 2009 Sparky Awards, visit