Harnessing the Power of Documentaries to Expand Libraries’ Reach and Impact, and Drive Progress

Sponsored by ProQuest, Part of Clarivate | Film Platform
Recorded on 10/17/2023

Posted in Ebooks and Digital Resources

Documentaries are powerful tools that inform, entertain, and inspire progress. In this discussion, we will delve into the impact of documentaries in expanding the reach of libraries and fostering impactful learning experiences that inspire civic engagement. Join for an engaging session as we uncover the potential of documentaries to empower libraries, facilitate learning, and inspire progress.


Join our panelists, consisting of experts from the worlds of film and academia, as we explore:

  • The Role of Documentary Films in Education and Library Collections
    • Uncover how documentary films can inspire progress, foster critical thinking, and drive student engagement.
    • Learn how films that use archival footage help students connect the dots of the past to the future.
    • Gain valuable insights on how film distributors:
      • Think about, and carve out, educational rights to ensure their long-term availability to academic libraries
      • Navigate the market dominance of big-box streamers, like Netflix/Amazon/Hulu
  • Harnessing the Value of Curation
    • Discover how curated documentary content allows for efficient engagement of faculty and students, expanding the reach of the library.
    • Discuss a check list of ideas for librarians to consider while curating their film collections, such as:
      • How content from the independent film world ensures your film collection stays relevant and topical
      • What raises the profile of a documentary in the zeitgeist of ideas
      • Relevance to course objectives and more
  • Collaboration between Libraries and Faculty
    • Generate ideas and best practices for libraries to collaborate with faculty regarding their increasing need for video resources.
    • Discuss the value of on-campus screenings to showcase the libraries’ film resources
    • Explore how a theatrical release of a documentary can fuel awareness and usage on campus
  • Staying Relevant: What’s Next
    • See what high-profile documentaries are coming soon to theatres and libraries through Academic Video Online and Film Platform:
      • A biopic of the First Amendment told through the landmark cases of its most celebrated attorney, Floyd Abrams (Speaking Freely)
      • Explore our current literacy crisis (The Right to Read) and the inspiring history of LeVar Burton and Reading Rainbow, succeeding in inspiring generations of children to love reading (Butterfly in the Sky)
      • Examine rising climate challenges, such as deep seabed mining and efforts to enforce international environmental law (Deep Rising)
      • See how Dan Pallotta’s TedTalk and latest book upends everything we have been taught about charity and giving (Uncharitable)
      • Learn about the science behind how we can draw down as much carbon as we produce, nourish our topsoil, and support our farmers, all by shifting to regenerative agriculture (Common Ground)
      • Delve into the life and work of civic guru and author of Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam and how joining a club makes for a stronger democracy and a healthier population (Join or Die)


Annie Roney headshot

Annie Roney

Founder and CEO, ROCO Films | Co-founder, Film Platform

Annie Roney is the founder and CEO of ROCO Films and co-founder of Film Platform.

ROCO Films is a full-service leading documentary distribution company. Film Platform is a global streaming service developed to bring the most relevant and critically acclaimed films to colleges and universities, allowing students and faculty to access and actively use films in the classroom and for their research.

After handling the foreign distribution of FRONTLINE, NOVA, and Ken Burns’ films, in 2000, Annie founded ROCO Films, licensing feature documentaries to all forms of media globally. In 2016, Annie joined the Film Platform funders team with a shared vision to get documentary films used in educational settings.

With her extensive experience and expertise in the documentary film ecosystem and the educational world, she has been identifying, promoting, and exposing documentary films, making them a milestone in visual learning.

Annie has curated and worked on a powerful collection of award-winning films aimed for use in academic settings, among them films like: The Hunting GroundRBGDoloresResilienceGirl RisingEscape FireKiss the GroundHow to Survive a Plague and many more.

lorraine wochna

Subject Librarian
Ohio University Libraries

“I think my favorite thing is when a student sees a doc, the whole world opens up for them. I’ve watched students rally around a documentary we are screening, and though some of them ‘had’ to come for a class, they often walk out saying ‘I had no idea about this. How can I get involved?’ That’s cool.

lorraine wochna is subject librarian at Ohio U Libraries. She covers dance, film, theater, African American studies, and literature. Her experience, degrees, and background is in film and theater. She is a member of ALA’s Film and Media Roundtable (FMRT) (https://www.ala.org/rt/fmrt), and served on the Notable Films for Adults committee for 2 terms. She is also a board member of The VideoTrust (https://www.videotrust.org/), an organization of library professionals on best practices for visual media acquisition, usage, preservation and access. She is co-creator of the Sustainability Film Series, now in its 11th season; which provides biweekly/monthly screenings of documentaries concerning environment and sustainability, a partnership with Environmental Studies, the library and The Athena Cinema (https://athenacinema.com/sustainabilityseries/).

Sara Archambault headshot

Sara Archambault (Moderator & Filmmaker)

Project Director, Documentary Film in the Public Interest Initiative
Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy

Sara Archambault is the Project Director of the Documentary Film in the Public Interest Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, a research center examining the intersections of media, technology and democracy with a goal of improving the welfare of the global information ecosystem. She is also an independent producer who champions films with bold, creative vision that center a practice of equity, care, and collaboration in their creation. Recent producing credits include the Indie Spirits-nominated documentary RIOTSVILLE, USA (Sundance, Magnolia Pictures); TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES (Rotterdam, Sentient Art Films), A DECENT HOME (Denver Film Festival, America Reframed) and RICHLAND (Tribeca 2023). Her award-winning films have screened in festivals around the world and received support from Sundance Film Institute, SFFILM, Catapult Film Fund, IDA, Hot Docs Pitch Forum, and Film Independent among others.

Sara was a 2020 Impact Partners Producing Fellow, a 2013 Sundance Creative Producers Lab Fellow and was named the 2020 SF DocFest Vanguard Awardee. Her professional experience includes a history in programming and foundation work, including 10 years as Program Director at the LEF Foundation, and 9 years as Founder/Programmer of The DocYard.  Guided by the value of tending to her creative community, she is an active member of the Documentary Producers Alliance and a trustee of The Flaherty. A resident of Providence, RI, she is mother to two incredible children, partner to a tireless public school teacher, and loves going to the movies by herself.

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