SELECT OR SATISFY?: THE VIDEO COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT DILEMMA
by Kim Lloyd
The writing of media collection development policy, specifically a videotape
policy, requires some considerations beyond the written policies for book
selection. In fact, collection development policies for print material may
not even be models that are relevant to videos. The reasons for this have to
do with how the video item is used by patrons, cost per title, and
technological considerations. These issues have been addressed succinctly by
Hardy and Sessions who say, "Due to the fragility, technical complexity, and
relatively high cost of nonprint media, additional care is needed in the
selection process"(Hardy 1985, 83). Patrons, specifically instructors in an
academic library, often take a video into the classroom as the method of
delivering instruction for that class session. Other than textbooks, books
in the library collection often lend support to the curriculum, but are not
the sole focus of instruction. Who would be more likely than the teaching
faculty to know which videos should be in the collection for this
instructional purpose? Since instructional video title prices can vary
widely, from $19.95 to over $400.00 per title, guessing at selection can
result in costly mistakes. Since videos could be obsolete in a few years due
to rapidly changing technology, it would seem to be more important to buy
videos that can be assured of some immediate use. A use study of materials
acquired in the Illinois State University Library Media Resource Center
seemed to be the best method of determining how collection development
should proceed and a way to write a policy that truly reflects selection
Since 1985, the library literature has been filled with articles on how best
to develop a video collection. Questions about which vendors to use,
bibliographical organization, equipment management, loan periods, copyright
considerations, and assessing user's needs appear along with advice from
public, academic, school and special librarians. Perhaps no single issue
though has received more attention than how to systematicallyperform
collection development. Should videos be collected from a traditional
process (e.g., writing a policy, reading reviews, examining the book itself)
or should the purchase be more demand driven (let the user decide the makeup
of the collection)? "Perhaps the most important aspect of building a serious
video collection is the development of a written video collection
development policy, which should be part of the overall library collection
development policy" (Mason 1992, 32). Looking at the SPEC Kit on
"Audiovisual Policies in ARL Libraries" is helpful because it identifies
issues common to representative academic video collections: collecting films
that support curriculum and instruction, making guidelines for the purchase
of popular or current films, and the consideration of price or funding
available. The similarities cease when policies outline who has
responsibility for selection and the steps involved before an item is
purchased. For example, UC Berkeley and Stanford take purchase
recommendations from teaching faculty, but final selection rests with the
media selector. The University of Hawaii and Indiana University attempt to
purchase all faculty requests. Reading reviews is a regular step before
purchase at Northwestern, and previewing is mentioned only in The University
of Hawaii policy.
Commentary on the critical issue of librarian versus faculty members as
selectors is divided in the literature. Proponents for library personnel as
selectors suggest that a committee of media librarian and subject
specialists should make purchase decisions (Ellison 1987, 370) and that
purchasing only by "transitory user demand" runs the risk of developing a
collection that is not well planned and that "can contribute to the notion
of the library media collection as an arcade"(Whichard 1985, 38). Reasoning
that the faculty have a strong role in media selection, Hardy offers that
"using a particular nonprint item may be an integral part of a course.
Therefore the teaching faculty tend to be more directly involved in
selecting nonprint materials than print materials"(Hardy 1985, 83). This
idea is backed by a published survey of academic librarians that reported
that "nearly all acquisitions are done by faculty order or request; few come
from staff or students"(Havens 1987, 34).
Media selection at Illinois State University has traditionally been a
competitive process where faculty members in each department are sent
letters twice a year inviting suggestions for purchase. Requests are
submitted with justifications that provide potential number of faculty and
student users, particular classes for which the item might be appropriate
and ordering information. A committee of librarians then considers the
requests and makes purchase decisions. Videos are also added to the
collection with some discretionary funds of the media selector, and by
subject librarians who have the capability of purchasing media from their
allotted book funds. Money is also earmarked for rental of titles as an
added service for faculty when a title is not in the collection and is not
available through an interlibrary loan transaction. A random sample of fifty
videos acquired in the Illinois State University Media Resource Center in
the spring of 1992 were tracked for use. Half of the videos were requested
by teaching faculty members and the other half selected by librarians
without a specific use for the video. A Macintosh software booking program
(Alexandria) keeps track of the number of charges for a particular video.
The dates of use for this study were August 1992 through April 1994. The
videos not requested by teaching faculty were publicized so that known items
would not have an advantage in use, other than a faculty members'
predisposition to a familiar title. Publicity included a newsletter from the
Media Resource Center with new title listings, a print catalog of all video
titles sent to departmental offices which included lists of videos by
subject, access through the library online public access catalog, and
personal recommendations by the media selector.
In the booking program during the described time frame, the average number
of uses was taken for the twenty-five requested videos and twenty-five
selected videos. The average number of uses for teaching faculty requested
videos was 4.08 and the average number of librarian selected titles was
2.03. Requested video titles are twice as likely to circulate as
non-requested titles. The video most often circulated was requested by a
faculty member and used thirteen times in the nineteen month evaluation
period. Three of the requested titles and seven of the selected titles were
not used at all.
IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS
Because the videos selected for purchase by teaching faculty receive twice
the use of titles selected by librarians, Illinois State University will
continue to encourage faculty input into the development of the Media
Resource Center collection. The collecting will be driven by videos that
have direct instructional applications and while the committee will try to
fairly disperse the funds across academic departments, traditional attempts
to balance the collection will not be made. Considering the limited
shelflife of media materials and changing technologies, videos that will be
useful in the classroom today are much more valuable to the library and its'
users than a "balanced" collection that remains on the shelf in the Media
Center. Collection development in an area like media that encompasses all
disciplines and has both popular and instructional applications can be
challenging especially when limited funds, equipment maintenance and
obsolescence are also factors. Each type of library must decide what the
best video collection for its patrons, and gathering as much input as
possible, whether through the printed literature or from patrons themselves
is the most efficient way to provide a used, useful collection.
1. Brancolini, Kristine, comp. 1991. Audiovisual policies in college
libraries. CLIP note no. 14. Chicago: Association of College and Research
2. Ellison, John W. 1985. "Non-print selection: a combination of methods."
In Media Librarianship. New York: Neil-Schuman Publishers.
3. Fothergill, Richard and Ian Butchart. 1990. Non-book materials in
libraries: a practical guide. 3d ed. London: Clive Bingley.
4. Hardy, Carol L. and Judith A. Sessions. 1985. "Integrated media
operations in an academic library: a profile." Library Trends 34,
5. Havens, Shirley E., GraceAnne A. DeCandido, and Bette-Lee Fox. 1987.
"Audio- and videocassettes: patron demand=library response." Library Journal
112 (November 15):33-35.
6. Mason, Sally. 1992. "Creating a successful library video service."
Library Journal 117 (November 15):32-35.
7. Raimo, John. 1985. "Financing the academic media center." Library
Trends 34, no.1:27-36.
8. Schabert, Daniel R. 1987. "Videotapes." In Nonbook media: collection
management and user services. Chicago: American Library Association.
9. Scholtz, James. 1993. "A conversation with Sally Mason." Wilson Library
Bulletin 67 (June):41-43.
10. Scholtz, James C. 1991. Video policies and procedures for libraries.
Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.
11. Slyhoff, Merle. 1993. "The video librarian's hide and seek: videotapes
and collection development." Wilson Library Bulletin 67(June):36-38.
12. Systems and Procedures Exchange Center. 1990. Audiovisual policies in
ARL libraries. SPEC Kit no. 162. Washington, D.C.: Association of Research
Libraries, Office of Management Services.
13. Whichard, Mitchell. 1985. "Collection development and nonprint
materials in academic libraries." Library Trends 34, no. 1:37-53.
LETTER TO FACULTY
To: Illinois State University Faculty
From: Kim Lloyd, Manager, Media Resource Center, Milner Library
Re: Requests for Media Materials
The Media Resource Center located on floor 6, Milner Library, contains
non-print materials that support all areas of instruction at ISU. Services
in the MRC include: facilities for listening and viewing in a variety of
formats, film and videotape scheduling and delivery, reserves, and reference
The Media Resource Center Acquisitions Committee solicits requests for media
materials to be purchased twice each year. The Committee will review
requests in October and April to identify items to be purchased from the
media materials budget. Items which may be requested for purchase include
(but are not limited to): 16mm films, VHS videocassettes, audio tapes,
compact discs, slide/tape programs, filmstrip/audio programs, overhead
projection sets, videodiscs, and interactive video programs. You may submit
additional requests any time during the year and they will be considered if
funds are available.
To assist you in identifying needs which are appropriate for this support,
some of the criteria the Committee uses in evaluating these requests are
that the item(s): 1) could be used in more than one formal education program
of the University, 2) will have multiple viewings and, 3) would not require
spending an inordinately large portion of funds available for this purpose.
Enclosed is a copy of the Media Purchase Request Form. Feel free to make
additional copies as needed. Submit requests directly to the Department
Chair for approval and prioritization. Please note that requests for media
equipment and film rentals should not be made on this form. All purchased
materials will be housed in the Media Resource Center. You will be notified
whether your request has been approved for funding and again when purchased
items are available for use. If you have questions, please call me. Kim
Lloyd is Media Librarian at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois.
Campus Box 8900 Illinois State University Normal, IL 61790-8900
Kim@mhsgate.mlb.ilstu.edu 309.438.7452 (voice) 309.438.3676 (fax) MC
Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship V2#2 Fall 1994 ISSN
This article is copyright (C) 1994 by Kim Lloyd. All Rights Reserved. MC
Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship is copyright (C) 1994
by Lori Widzinski. All commercial use requires
> -----Original Message-----
> From: laroi.lawton [SMTP:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002 1:03 PM
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: Re: video approval plans?
> Dear Colleagues:
> What we do at Bronx Community College is the following:
> There are five librarians who specialize in core areas across the academic
> curriculum. We take a look at the course syllabus for every media list we
> have. These lists are mediagraphies which we have produced over the years
> that are related to the specific course. Any video title we feel is
> essential to that course must be previewed by the Instructor teaching that
> course. If approved, and depending upon our budget, we purchase it.
> requirement on our part is that the Instructor include the title in their
> course syllabus for students to look at when covering the topic in class.
> also ask Instructors to give us titles of videos they feel may be good for
> their course and get these items sent in on preview. All Instructors are
> asked to fill out preview forms for all items approved and disapproved for
> purchase so that we can refer back to a title if need be to see if another
> Instructor gave a different opinion. This has worked well for us because,
> the Instructor(s) is an integral part of the process and it has helped us
> determine what items not to buy-even if we think otherwise. Since our
> collection is course-related across the BCC curriculum, this has helped us
> develop a unique collection
> that many of our students and faculty appreciate.
> LaRoi Lawton, Director
> Gerald S. Lieblich Learning Resource Center
> Library & Learning Resources Dept.
> Bronx Community College
> Bronx, NY 10453
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Roberta Astroff" <email@example.com>
> To: "Multiple recipients of list" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002 9:43 AM
> Subject: Re: video approval plans?
> > But this sounds exactly like the relationship between monograph
> > academic life and approval plans for books.
> > Roberta Astroff
> > Penn State
> > At 11:48 AM 1/26/2002 -0800, you wrote:
> > >Re video approval plans.
> > >
> > >One word: ugggggggggggggggggggggggg!
> > >
> > >Even if such a beast did exist (and it doesn't, particularly for
> > >academic libraries), 20 years in this business
> > >tells me that
> > >leaving the selection of video up to a third party would be courting
> > >certain disaster. It's hard enough for full-time media librarians to
> > >this off...leaving it up to profit-driven outsiders would be madness.
> > >Selection in academic libraries is a matter of weighing curricular and
> > >research needs against market availability--that's a trick that
> > >eternal vigilance, constant participation in the academic life of
> > >an intimate knowledge of both mainstream and independent filmmaking,
> > >close connection to colleagues with similar collections. We ain't
> > >books here...
> > >
> > >Gary Handman
> > >Director
> > >Media Resources Center
> > >Moffitt Library
> > >UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
> > >510-643-8566
> > >email@example.com
> > >
> > >"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is
> > >it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld
> > >
> > >On Fri, 25 Jan 2002, Linda Engelberg wrote:
> > >
> > > > My administrator is asking about video approval plans for
> universities. I
> > > > can't imagine that there is such a thing? Tho I believe that
> > > > Media was offering some kind of a service, but I don't think it was
> > > > University level. Can anyone offer comments or information. thanx
> > > > aloha.
> > > >
> > > > Linda Engelberg
> > > > Video Librarian
> > > > Wong Audiovisual Center
> > > > Sinclair Library
> > > > University of Hawaii
> > > > Honolulu, HI 96822
> > > > (808) 956-5414
> > > > FAX (808) 956-5952
> > > > firstname.lastname@example.org
> > > >
> > > >