Media in Public Libraries

Mike Boedicker (
Wed, 9 Jan 2002 12:53:07 -0800 (PST)

Our library used to have a listening station for CDs and cassettes, but we
got rid of it because of patron problems. It was a Eiko unit and well
built, which is good because it took a lot of abuse. It was donated by a
local group. Anyone could use it, though they were supposed to sign in and
show ID (not necessarily a library card) in order to borrow headphones.

It was originally intended for patrons to preview CDs and cassettes they
were thinking of taking out, but it was NEVER used this way. Instead,
people with abundant free time would park there and listen to music all day.
Usually they listened to nothing but speed metal and rap with the volume
cranked so high that even with headphones, the music could be heard in the
Children's Department next door. The AV staff spent too much time policing
the thing, endlessly telling people to turn it down, kicking people off who
beat on the equipment, etc. One time a guy did pushups on the floor while
listening to a CD! Then there was the regular who listened to NOTHING but
Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" and alternately laughed/cried during it --
loudly. He scared away many patrons, and some staff too.

As for video carrels in public libraries, that issue has been debated often.
Some argue that carrels do not infringe on copyright, while other maintain
they do. (I always wondered why listening stations don't seem to pose a
copyright problem while video carrels do). We've never had them for that
reason and because we're afraid that if we did the abuse would be worse than
it was for the listening station. I guess the main thing we learned is that
carrels of any sort can take a heavy toll on library staff, time, and money.


Dear Videolib people:

I've posted this query to CircPlus, so please excuse the cross-posting.

We are starting to grapple with some thorny issues to determine whether =
or not to introduce media equipment for public use into the library. We =
would appreciate responses from public libraries which have carrels or =
equipment already, so that we can at least begin to decide exactly what =
direction to take.

Here are a few of our questions:

What kind of equipment do you provide the public for use in the library? =
VCRs? DVD players? Compact Disc music players? Tape players? Other?

Who uses the equipment in the library? Parents and children? After =
school student use? Adults?

Is the equipment high end stuff or inexpensive (like boom boxes)? Where =
do you purchase your equipment (i.e., catalogs, the local discount =
house, etc.)?

Do you have special furniture for the equipment? What kind?

Does the equipment live in the furniture permanently or do you hand it =
out and plug it in on request?

What do you do about security for the equipment?

What happens when the equipment breaks? Do you have a repair or =
replacement budget? How often does the stuff break?

How do you monitor use of the equipment? Do people sign up to use it? =
Do you hold a library card or i.d.? Who monitors usage? Circ.? =
Reference? Someone else (who)?

How is the usage? Is the amount you have meeting the demand?

Do you think the equipment is worth the expense and staff time? Why or =
why not?

Thanks very much for any help you can give.

Maurine Canarsky
Circulation/Media Librarian
Noel Wien Public Library
1215 Cowles St.
Fairbanks, AK 99701
FAX 907-459-1024

Mike Boedicker
Audiovisual Director & Webmaster
Danville Public Library
319 N. Vermilion, Danville, IL 61832
(217) 477-5223 ext. 123 / Fax: (217) 477-5230

MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos: