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Harvard Kennedy School Virtual Book Tours Feature Recently Published Authors

HKS Library partners with media services to produce video interviews with recently published faculty members and fellows.


August 6, 2013—The Harvard Kennedy School Library, in conjunction with the HKS IT/Media Services office, regularly posts “Virtual Book Tours” that spotlight HKS faculty members with recently published books. The current book tour, “Nicco Mele: The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath,” offers an opportunity for viewers to learn more about Mele and the concepts he addresses in his book.

“We have been producing virtual book tours for about seven years,” said Leslie Donnell, director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Library and Knowledge Services and manager of collections and digital content. “We find that they are a great way for faculty members to get the word out about their new books. They are generally very receptive to participating.”

Valerie Weis, research and knowledge services librarian—who has coordinated the most recent tours—said she seeks out faculty members who either have just released or are about to release a new book. She then sends a list of questions for the author to answer when he or she is producing the video with staff from media services. “I will ask questions such as, ‘Why did you write the book?’ or ‘Did you find anything surprising as you were writing it?’” Weis said.

Donnell mentioned that Mele appeared on her radar after she heard him interviewed both on NPR and then on television during the same day. “We try to find people who have written about topics that are currently relevant and interesting,” she said. “I like this format because, in answering the questions on video, the authors talk about their books in a less linear way. It becomes more of a conversation about the topic.”

Mele noted: “Creating a Virtual Book Tour couldn't have been easier. I sat down in front of a camera and talked about my book, explaining key points and offering a compelling story or two.”

Weis, Donnell and Heather McMullen, manager of research, instruction and knowledge services, produce 15 to 20 virtual tours per year. They make every effort to include all faculty members or research fellows who ask to be featured, and Donnell hopes to begin hosting a few “physical” book talks during the next academic year.

“We have an interesting mix of subjects,” Weis said. “Some are younger faculty members who are trying to get their names out there. But we also have a contingency of faculty members who have been at HKS a long time and reach out to us when they publish something new.”

Mele added: “The Virtual Book Tour provides an important way to reach new audiences, especially within the Harvard community."

View the most recent Virtual Tours here.