RE: Shelving nonfeature videos

Ben Achtenberg (
Mon, 25 Feb 2002 11:00:43 -0800 (PST)

Responding to the various folks who have been discussing the shelving
issue, if I can weigh in as a non-librarian (but as both a distributor and
a regular library patron):

1) I would agree with Peter Cartford that serendipity sometimes works both
ways. However, for folks who use the types of programs that are in our
catalog (and I have discussed this with a number of our end-users), they
are FAR more likely to come across one of our releases because they are in
the library researching a topic of personal concern to them (autism,
bi-polar disorders, sickle-cell anemia, coping with disability -- to choose
a few examples) than when they're browsing the video display for weekend
entertainment. Frequently they are unaware that films on these subjects
even exist. For this reason, I've always felt that interfiling by subject
for films like these makes the most sense.

2) For other documentaries -- someone mentioned Ross McElwee's works, which
would be a good example -- filing by subject would probably be doing both
the film and its potential viewers a disservice.

3) I very much like Stephen Davies' suggestion of putting "dummy" boxes in
the main collection (or the other way round) which seems like it would
offer the best of both worlds, if you've got room for the extras. If it
would encourage any libraries to pursue this option, Fanlight would be MORE
than happy to provide you with duplicate copies of our film packaging, so
that your staff wouldn't need to bother about cobbling together copies.

4) On a somewhat unrelated subject, a number of folks have written about
the circulation (or not) of the MacArthur collection: as the original
distributor of one of those films, FOUR LIVES: a Portrait of Manic
Depression, we would be very interested in hearing more about how useful it
has been for your patrons.

Ben Achtenberg
Fanlight Productions

At 08:22 AM 2/22/02 -0800, you wrote:
>It's a six of one, half dozen of the other kind of thing. It you interfile
>videos with books (and particularly if you interfile other formats as well)
>you enable patrons to find all materials on a subject in one place. If you
>shelve videos separately you enable patrons to browse the video collection
>as a whole and you promote the serendipity factor--while browsing patrons
>find interesting things they didn't know they were looking for.
>(Serendipity can work with interfiling as well, of course.) It really
>depends on your service philosophy and on the size of your building.
>Non-feature videos were interfiled here as part of a move to interfile
>pretty much everything and get away from compartmentalized collections.
>Also, our building is fairly large and the intent was to save patrons the
>need to walk a half block to get the video on that subject they're looking
>for. In a smaller building that may not matter as much. So take your
>choice. Ideally videos can be shelved separately and you'll have a
>librarian who knows the collection intimately and can provide appropriate
>patron assistance. Practically, many libraries are short-staffed and see
>interfiling as a way to get the stuff in one place and provide patron
>assistance from one service point.
>Either option, subject access vs. browsing/serendipity, will work, it just
>depends on which will work better for you. That may not be a
>consensus-building kind of statement, but I don't think there's a "right"
>answer on this one.
>Peter Cartford
>AV Librarian
>Johnson County Library
>9875 W. 87th St.
>Overland Park, KS 66212
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Toni Grow []
>Sent: Friday, February 22, 2002 8:28 AM
>To: Multiple recipients of list
>Subject: Shelving nonfeature videos
>There has been some discussion about intershelving our nonfeature videos
>(which circulate fairly heavily) with the nonfiction books. Talking to
>librarians in our area has yielded mixed reactions, so I am looking for a
>broader consensus. The library is a medium sized stand-alone library for
>an affluent suburban community.
>Thanks in advance for your input.
>Toni Grow
>Adult Services Librarian
>Baldwin Public Library
>Birmingham, MI 48009