Re: video title lists for patrons

Andrea Slonosky (
Thu, 29 Nov 2001 14:34:47 -0800 (PST)

Funny, it's a sticky question here as well.

2 -3 years ago I inherited a closed stack collection of approximately 4000
items, including videos, DVDs, laserdiscs, cassettes, CDs, CD-ROMS, etc,
none of which were catalogued at all. The clerical staff of the media dept
(some of whom were in a MLIS program) had been organizing the collection
through a stand alone Access database, which they designed themselves. They
entered as much information as they could from the video boxes and from OCLC
records in this database, and generated 2 printed lists, one alphabetical by
title, and another by subject heading. This was the only access to the
collection. Eventually, when the website went up a drop down alphabetical
list was made available through our web page. The collection is growing
constantly, and these lists are out of date as soon as they are printed, and
they are massive, and due to the peculiar physical layout of the library, we
need at least 3 copies of each. Different faculty had gotten used to being
able to ask for special lists, by country of origin, director, etc, which
were not difficult to generate, though they were very long.

Well, since I started here, the entire video collection has been entered
into the OPAC, (Horizon) which is a tremendous achievement on the part of
our cataloguing Dept. However, only a third of the videos have been fully
catalogued - the rest are simply titles, with no description or subject
tracing at all.( they are now going back to complete the records) We
stopped printing the lists, but still have the old ones available. Our
Access database has crashed a few times, and is no longer as up to date as
it was, and so we are now in between two systems, and are sometimes forced
to tell people that the only way to really know if we have a title or not is
to actually ask me, or my clerical staff to look for the physical item. This
is a real problem.

As our collection grows (over 5000 items now) we can not just keep on
generating these hundreds and hundreds of pages of titles when they are
already in the catalogue, and patrons can not expect us to keep generating
all kinds of lists for them at the drop of a hat, when they can browse the
collection from their own offices. The faculty miss the lists, but I'm
trying to encourage them to get used to looking for media objects they way
they would look for books. I cling to the belief that we will, in the not so
distant future have a completely catalogued collection which will be much
easier to search than the printed lists ever were... in the meantime, we do
what we can to make things easier for our patrons, not always very
successfully, I'm afraid. I'm sure our collection will be used more
intensively when it's easier to find out about it - one of the unexpected
side effects of the initial cataloguing project is that we've been inundated
with ILL requests for our videos !

Sorry this has been so long, but it's a topic close to my heart, that
occupies a good amount of my work energy! I'm really interested in seeing
how others deal with this situation. Other places I've worked at catalogued
a range of media as a matter of course, and there was never any question of
printed lists. I thought that was the norm, till I read your note.

Andrea Slonosky
Media Librarian
Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus

----- Original Message -----
From: "Diane Sybeldon" <>
To: "Multiple recipients of list" <>
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2001 2:45 PM
Subject: video title lists for patrons

> Hello vidlibbers:
> I'm looking for advice from academic media librarians.
> Do you make (paper) video title lists available for patrons?
> Ours is an OPEN COLLECTION and so it is probably not
> necessary to provide such a resource, but....
> In the past we have had them available for browsing.
> We've had video, laser disc and dvd lists.
> The video list breaks down by feature and non-feature only,
> otherwise it is a simple alphabetical title list.
> I'd like to keep them, but the time required to update
> is a problem.
> Any feedback will be appreciated.
> Diane
> ***********************************
> Diane Sybeldon
> Instruction/Media Librarian
> David Adamany Undergraduate Library
> Wayne State University
> Detroit, Michigan 48202
> (313) 577-4480 (voice)
> (313) 577-5265 (fax)
> (email)
> ************************************