C-SPAN Video Library

Author: Susan Good

Great news for C-SPAN junkies (yes, they do exist… not everyone procrastinates with Facebook or YouTube)! As of March 17, 2010, all programming that has aired on C-SPAN since 1987 (over 160,000 hours) is available online via the C-SPAN Video Library.

Whether you prefer the populist orientation of the original channel (i.e., gavel-to-gavel floor proceedings of the U.S. House of Representatives), the rarefied air of the Senate chambers (i.e., CSPAN2), or the eclectic mix provided by C-SPAN3 (i.e., public affairs events, congressional hearings, and history programming), now you can turn to one convenient source for all your C-SPAN needs.

Even if you’re not already a C-SPAN fanboy/girl, the C-SPAN Video Library has a lot to offer. Just take it from C-SPAN copresident Susie Swain, that “[this resource] will be helpful to anyone seeking a view of the political and policy process whether they wish to research people or events from past decades or from earlier in the day .… [T]he public [will be able] to see how elected officials, politicians, journalists, experts, authors, and other opinion leaders present themselves on the issues of the day and over time.”1

Programs are indexed by subject, speaker names, titles, affiliations, sponsors, committees, categories, formats, policy groups, keywords, and location. The congressional sessions and committee hearings are indexed by person with full-text search capabilities (giving you another source for federal legislative history research).

In addition to the advanced search capabilities which this high level of indexing provides, there are also user-friendly options for browsing by Most Recent, Most Watched, and Most Shared videos. You can even check out the C-Span Blog to find out about new developments and read articles like Memorable Moments from the Video Library which highlights events such as then Senator Obama’s 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, President Reagan’s farewell address to the nation during his last broadcast from the Oval Office, Nancy Pelosi’s acceptance of election as Speaker of the House, and even Chris Farley’s impersonation of Newt Gingrich at the House Republican Conference.

For those of you interested in incorporating relevant video into a class presentation (or making a mashup clip for next year’s Father Mike Show… why should The Daily Show have all the fun?), you’ll be happy to learn (unless you have an iPad) that C-SPAN Video Library is Flash-based and has clipping and sharing features. Moreover, C-SPAN is well known for its “liberalized copyright policy for current, future, and past coverage of any official events sponsored by Congress and any federal agency.”2 However, that’s only about half of their programming, so be sure to check out the C-SPAN Copyright Policy and Licensing and Permissions pages before using C-SPAN’s video content for your own purposes.

-Chris O’Byrne

1. Press Release, C-SPAN, C-SPAN’s Online Video Library Now Open to the Public (Mar. 17, 2010).
2. Press Release, C-SPAN, C-SPAN Takes Lead in Making Video of Congressional Hearings, White House and Other Federal Events More Widely Available to the Online Community (Mar. 7, 2007).

Search for online videos
By Keyword: e.g., the name of an individual, organization, or topic.

By Date: select a date and scroll through that day’s program line-up.

By Program Type, Series, or Topic: browse and search different categories of programs.

Via the Congressional Chronicle: an index to House and Senate floor proceedings matched to the text of the Congressional Record.

Advanced Search: for the greatest amount of control over your query.