Re: low circ of nonfiction videos in public libraries?

Karen Fischer (
Thu, 21 Feb 2002 18:19:08 -0800 (PST)

We have weeded over 75% of our MacArthur collection over the past few
years, also because of low circulation. For a few titles that were either
very important and/or still being used some, and were available in more
episodes per tape (i.e. 9 episodes on 5 videos vs. 9 episodes on 9 videos) we
actually purchased replacements to save shelf space. These videos with new
spiffy covers are circulating much better than the old MacArthur ones.
I think part of the problem with the MacArthur collection is the generic
packaging. Patrons have seen them around for years and they are not
eyecatching. No matter what the topic they all look the same. We have open
shelves and we have found that packaging is very important. Attractive cover
art definitely stimulates interest. One of our staff members just did her
MLS research paper on this--the same videos with full sleeve colorful cover
art went out 2-3 times more often than videos with partial cover art or
monochromatic covers.
Our informational/educational video circulation increased again last year
by a slight amount, as did the entertainment video. Our overall
entertainment video circulation is much higher than the info/ed but the
entertaiment videos outnumber the info/ed at least 3 to 1. (Fiction book
circulation is also higher than nonfiction book circulation.)
To promote the inof/ed videos I have a large display unit in the lobby by
the adult services (book) department. I put up a new display every month or
two. We have featured topics such as travel, biographies, PBS programs,
health, etc. I have had patrons who never set foot in our department find
these videos and then they have come to the AV department to ask if we have
more, or ask what happened to the videos that were in the lobby when we
change the display. They tell me "I didn't know you had this kind of video."

Our non-fiction videos are shelved in Dewey call # order, the entertainment
in alphabetical sections. Most of the videos in the areas mentioned by Paul
Duckworth in his reply do well for us, but videos on animals (wild and
domesticated), gardening, computer instruction, biographies, home repair and
maintenance are a few of the areas that also do very well. In our library
plays (except non feature film Shakespeare) and foreign films are classified
as entertainment.
Promotion of much of the info/ed videos and some of the videos classified
in Entertainment such as "Reading Rainbow" videos is a constant struggle.
Karen Fischer
AV Librarian
Mansfield/Richland County Public Library
Mansfield, OH