Re: media librarianship

Chuck Ebert (
Wed, 23 Feb 2000 11:26:19 -0800 (PST)


I am the manager of an audio-visual department in a public library. My
undergraduate degree was in photography and cinema.

1) There wasn't much in the MLS program that I attended (Kent State) on
Audio-Visual librarianship. Fortunately, I was able to take a few classes from
the educational media program at Ohio State and transfer the credits to KSU. It
also helped that I had an undergraduate degree in film, so I was familiar with
the history of film and that has helped me make selection decisions. I suppose
I picked up some basic selection principles from graduate school, but I had been
doing selection in a public library for a couple of years before getting my
MLS. I think that experience was more helpful.

2) I would encourage anyone entering the AV field today to make sure they are
well grounded in the more traditional library areas, especially reference. In
mid-sized to small libraries, chances are there is not going to be a separate
department for AV, and the person who selects AV will be primarily a reference
librarian. In larger systems, AV departments will survive but since so much
hiring is done from within, new librarians will have to take entry level
positions at the branches and try to work their way up.

3) The future, of course, is what we make it, but with streaming technology and
faster connections to the Internet, I can all too easily imagine AV librarians
being bypassed in the distribution chain. When someone can download an album or
a movie in the privacy of their own home, why would they come to us? Now this
lets out people who can't afford home computers and they are a large percentage
of our patrons. I can imagine a system wherein, instead of buying an actual
item we buy the rights to download that material onto a tape or disc, which will
wear out or erase itself somehow within a specified period of time. I can't,
for the life of me, though, see why a distributor would let us do that. Plus, I
haven't heard anybody talking about this or any other kind of system. I would
suspect now is the time to start planning on how we're going to deal with this
issue. wrote:

> Colleagues:
> In preparation for my chapter in the new edition of Gary's book, I would
> like to ask the media librarians out there to take a few minutes and send me
> a reply to the questions below. Responses sent directly to me will be kept
> confidential. If you want to share your thoughts with the list that's fine
> too. I'm trying to get an idea about how you feel about library education
> for media librarians and where you see our specialty heading in the future.
> I guess I'm defining "media" as traditional a/v type formats as well as
> newer ones, but with a slant towards video.
> 1. Do you think "library school" (MLS program) prepared you for your career
> as a media librarian? Why? Please indicate in which type of library you are
> currently working.
> 2. What skills or qualities do you think will be most important for media
> librarians in the future?
> 3. Will media librarians as a specialty field continue well into the future
> or do you see our role changing as new technologies and formats emerge?
> Thanks in advance for your time and energy.
> Best,
> Lori Widzinski
> Head, Computing and Multimedia Services
> Health Sciences Library
> University at Buffalo