An ode to library science

Proposal: THE OWLS

An ode to library science


OWL Research Partners is an independent market research company comprised of three research librarians; Samara Omundson, Emily Wheeler and Shannon Lawler.  

In contrast to marketing services that conduct focus group testing or other primary source research, the three researchers of OWL utilize their mastery of library science to locate existing data sets, discovering new patterns to explain and predict human behavior and trends, then create consumer models and narratives that communicate what companies can do next to best utilize those insights.  Since founding the company in 2011, OWL has lent their talents to industries as diverse as automotive manufacturing, athletic apparel, and healthcare.6R

A woman sits at a desk in front of a window with one hand on her chin and the other on a computer mouse.
Samara Olmundson at work
A woman sits at a table and gestures while speaking to an off camera interviewer
Emily Wheeler discusses her craft

Though this type of work may sound like a far cry from the services provided at your local library, all librarians share a unique skill set that allows them to not only locate the relevant data from a virtual sea of information, but also to place that data into context to ensure that it is understood.

OWL approached us with the desire to create a short film that could explain to prospective clients and partners how they use library science to acheive their clients’ goals, and how their approach differs from traditional market research.  



Creating a traditional marketing video for OWL presented a unique challenge. Whereas in many cases we combine an interview with footage of company founders or employees at work (or customers using the product), the work that OWL does is largely cerebral, and is now conducted almost entirely through the internet. Footage of the three partners at work in their office would do little to convey the complexities of their approach, or the value that their work contributes.

We realized that the best method to communicate how OWL works would be to create a new narrative, following a character that encounters similar barriers to understanding and pursues knowledge in a more visual way.


A ten-year-old girl lays on her bed and examines a piece of paper, with a detective cap hanging in the foreground.
The junior detective examines a clue.
A hand drawn image of a dog chewing on the elbow of a coat.
The junior detective's clues come to life through animation.

In examining the three partners’ interivews for inspiration, we discovered an anecdote that Samara shared about her habit as a child of pretending to be a private detective, “investigating” passersby wherever she might be, creating stories in her head of why things might be that way.

 Using this anecdote as a jumping off point, we created a character, the “Junior Detective” to act as a proxy for not only the research work that the three librarians do, but also to represent the passion for knowledge that they all share.

As our junior detective embarks on her adventure, her actions echo the the day-to-day work that OWL does: analyzing information, making connections, and finding new relationships that may have been missed before.



This narrative will be woven throughout the interview footage and combined with additional symbolic imagery to convey abstract concepts like data analysis and pattern recognition.

Though our initial goal was to create a video to promote OWL Research Partners specifically, the project has grown and evolved into a film about the universal importance of librarians a world of information overload.

Learn more about OWL research partners at



Meet Patrick

The latest apprentice to join us down in the Boiler Room is Patrick Lagier, a recent graduate of Pacific University whose filmmaking efforts have already taken him to faraway lands like Nepal. We asked him a few questions about his career path so far. When I’m not working at Potboiler, I spend my time… Playing video games,

Read More »

Dispatch from the Boiler Room: December 3rd

A bittersweet dispatch this week, as we bid adieu to our apprentices Garrison and Chico. It’s been a particularly productive cycle for apprentices this time around, as we’ve launched two new ongoing series. The first, DEEP FOCUS, is a series of profiles of our region’s best independent filmmakers, produced in cooperation with the Northwest Film Center. The

Read More »

Episode 1: Dustin Morrow

In our premiere episode, Portland State University professor and prolific filmmaker Dustin Morrow shares his method for directing actors with a theater background, and how his family’s first VCR provided him the first opportunity to appreciate the craft of cinema. Deep Focus Ep 1: Dustin Morrow from Potboiler Story Company on Vimeo.

Read More »

Dispatch from the Boiler Room: September 24

One of the benefits of working in film and video is the opportunity to interview fascinating people and learn from insiders about fields that we’d otherwise only ever encounter from afar. We’ve worked with many clients who provide these experiences, but our favorite by far is the Oregon District Court Historical Society. We first worked with them

Read More »