Re: Help please

Gary Handman (
Wed, 5 Jul 2000 08:55:09 -0700 (PDT)

We could probably write books on this for you, Maria, but here are a coupla
brief thoughts:

1. Film and video represent distinct forms of communication (as apart
from, say, print)--each of these forms is, in a sense, a completely
distinct grammar, with its own syntax, style, etc. If an library is
committed AT ALL to film and video, it is essential to have someone in
charge of these collections who understands the history, grammar, and uses
of these materials. No respectable library would hire a
librarian-off-the-street for, say, building and providing access to Slavic
collections, children's collections, manuscript collections...why in the
world would, then, would a library maintain a video collection without a
specialist to build and/or manage it?

2. Regardless of what we may feel about the print vs TV/Video/Film issue,
the bald fact of the matter is that the last 50 years have been largely
informed by media other than print. We have, for better or worse, become a
post-literate (world) culture. Libraries can approach this fact in three
basic ways: a) try to ignore the fact b) try to stem the rising tide
(Turn Off Your TV Week!!!) c) hire informed professionals who understand
the role of non-print media in shaping the Century and who can go to the
mat for informed/critical viewing and intelligently built collections.

3) The video "publication" and distribution universe is a weird, distinct
world (as WE all know). If a library is doing it's job correctly, we ain't
in Baker and Taylor Land anymore, Toto (of course, if the library thinks
little enough about the community it's serving to think that K-MART
sell-through mass market titles do the trick, I'm not sure you'd WANT to
work there).
Keeping up with the odd, blackhole laden scene of indie
producers/distributors, mass marketers,
e-commerce jockeys and other hawkers of tape and disc is a full time job.

4) Repeat after me: the web is not video, the web is not video, the web
is not video. There is an enormous difference between CONTENT and
DELIVERY. It seems to me that what his happening in libraries to a very
large extent is a continuing and increasing confusion between the two--the
sense that "all this will converge" and that you can neatly kill two staff
birds with one job description by calling it all MEDIA. Stupidity! An
understanding of CONTENT is what this profession is all about. The way
that content is delivered is a fairly trivial consideration. Even if
video content does eventually migrate online, the need for a deep
understanding of how that medium works and what it's uses are.

Gooooooooood luck!

At 04:09 PM 06/30/2000 -0700, you wrote:
>Help! I am writing this for a hostile audience and need all of your good
>wisdom and tact to help me say this. If you have ideas for arguments,
>ways to make it stronger, or any ways to improve this, I'd appreciate your
>input. Also, if you know of particularly strong arguments in the
>literature that I could cite, I'd appreciate that information too. I'm on
>a very short timeline for this (due July 6) so please respond as quickly
>as you can. The person who will be reading this does not believe in
>multiple learning styles or the uniqueness of community college students
>in an economically and culturally deprived area. Nor does she believe
>that AV librarians have expertise.
>Internet service as well as long distance and 911 are down in our region
>today, so I will send this into the void and hope it actually gets sent to
>the list when things are working again.
>In changing my job responsibilities I think it is important that the AV
>portion of my job and its title be retained. The new title could be
>"Audio Visual and Acquisitions Librarian". Audio Visual librarianship,
>like rare books and manuscripts librarianship, has many similarities to
>the mainstream of the profession, but is also a different world with
>unique knowledge and values. AV librarians are as much visual and
>auditory literacy educators, advocates, and consultants as they are
>librarians. AV has its own body of knowledge, history, and reference
>sources, and the field has its own organizations and leaders. Since
>community colleges attract non-traditional students who benefit more than
>most students from multiple kinds of learning opportunities, it is
>important for our college to have a person who understands and advocates
>for these potentials. Our faculty have supported the department and have
>relied on the expertise of the person in this position for many years.
>Thank you so much for your help.
>All hugs are welcome......
>Maria Koehmstedt
>Reference and AV Librarian
>Clatsop Community College Library
>1680 Lexington Avenue
>Astoria, OR 97103
>(503) 338-2463
Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)