I have curated and embedded playlists of YouTube videos into my research and instruction guides for years, both our old custom guide solution and the LibGuides solution my library migrated to last year.
Custom YouTube playlists are a great way to hand-pick a selection of topic-specific videos that gets updated each time you add a new video or remove an outdated one, like an iTunes playlist. And embedded playlists take up much less guide real estate than individually adding each of these related videos to a guide — one LibGuides box versus possibly 10 to 12 individual LibGuides boxes stacked on to a single crowded guide page. The process is identical to embedding a single YouTube video via the LibGuides “Embedded Media & Widgets” box. Your playlist must be set to Public.
Note the following example, a YouTube playlist box from my Genealogy LibGuide.
I keep a regular set of “work-related” YouTube playlists in my YouTube account, for which I routinely seek updated videos to add anytime I come across a good related tutorial, and when I am doing my start-of-the-new-semester guides cleanup chores (adding newer content and removing outdated content).
A few months ago, I noticed that my embedded YouTube playlists quit displaying the thumbnails for each included video. Without these thumbnails, it is very difficult for guide users to even tell that more than one video is available to watch in the embedded player, much less actually access the additional videos. YouTube’s old format custom players used to make playlists very visible, with thumbnails as well as back and forward buttons displayed next to each video allowing the user to scroll through each included video. But Google did away with that helpful feature about a year ago. Now, thumbnails are the only way to immediately identify that more than one video is embedded in the player.
However, on its updated playlist embed code, Google doesn’t even provide any settings that allow a playlist manager to add or remove video thumbnails to a playlist player. There is no “show thumbnails” checkbox available on the Embed playlist option from your channel’s Video Manager, like there is to “Use HTTPS” or to “Enable privacy-enhanced mode”.
I kept coming across tutorials and articles indicating that since Google’s transition to the new playlist player, one can only display video thumbnails via a hack, by adding the API parameter “&showinfo=1” to the embed code’s iframe src code immediately after the playlist URL (see screenshot below). I kept applying this hack to all of the YouTube playlists embedded in my LibGuides, but the thumbnails still would not display. After several weeks of racking my brain, I discovered the answer in a Google Products forum post…this hack only works on the Flash Video Player, not the beta HTML5 Video Player. I have been using the beta HTML5 Video Player for months, hence, no playlist thumbnails for months.
If you want playlist thumbnails to display in our embedded YouTube playlist, you must (for now) use the older Flash Video Player. Hopefully, Google will start supporting this functionality in its beta HTML5 Video Player since the HTML5 player is what Google is pushing for the move forward as Flash gets deprecated. To check which type of Video Player is associated with your YouTube account, go to http://www.youtube.com/html5. If you see a big blue “Join the HTML5 Trial” button, you are already using the Flash player. If you see a big black “Leave the HTML5 Trail” button, you are using the HTML5 player and need to switch if you want to display playlist thumbnails.
Hopefully these tips will help you build out better LibGuides or web pages utilizing YouTube playlists.