I spent 8+ years in a public library system (large county in Texas) tending the video collection as a paraprofessional. I was considered the video "specialist..." even though I wasn't allowed to influence the ordering. There were no media specialists among any of the professional librarians in the county. I would have loved lurking in a forum such as this.
As the single professional at a state agency safety video library, I run into even more cluelessness about running a video library. I am asked repeatedly for hard-number cost projections regarding replacement of damaged or outdated videos when my experience tells me that there is no such animal--there is too much variation in manufacture, in shipping (our library serves the entire state of Texas) and in handling by patrons to be able to create real cost projections. Not only that, any regulation change at OSHA at any time may render an entire section of my library obsolete. What do I do? I give the powers that be a cost projection based on past numbers, knowing that this has nothing to do with the future and then I pray for smooth shipping and careful patrons, since any cost overrun would be considered ineptitude on my part. And loss by patrons not returning videos or by videos walking off the shelves? That is simply not allowed, therefore it doesn't happen.
On the positive side, I've just graduated from UT where they do offer an AV librarianship class, probably more geared for those librarians who will find themselves tending a more traditional academic AV collection, perhaps for a school with an active drama or RTF department. I did not have the opportunity to take the course myself.
Although I am not planning my career for long-term media librarianship, I do agree that some strategic planning for AV librarians is definitely in order. I've also learned from experience that the powers that be (upper level administrators, directors, library board members, county commissioners) believe that the Internet and anything digital is magic conjured by wizards and does not require maintenance or additional resources. In fact, they seem to think digital media will catalog itself (just do Yahoo searches!), circulate itself (downloads, right?), and cost less than traditional AV (if copyright issues are hard for us to grasp, then....)
Hats off to Gary for raising the hard issues.
Workers' Health & Safety/Safety Education & Training
Texas Workers' Compensation Commission
4000 S. IH-35 MS-25
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