Re: Dealing with disturbing content

Kristine R. Brancolini (brancoli@indiana.edu)
Mon, 25 Feb 2002 11:24:41 -0800 (PST)

If you were from a public library, I might have a different answer for
you, but since you are from an academic library, here's my response:

We have all of the titles you mention in your posting and many more that
might offend or disturb a viewer. One of the few videos for which we have
had a complaint is one that I would not have anticipated -- _Blood in the
Face_, which is about white supremacy. Two black students saw a man
wearing a t-shirt with a swastika viewing the video in the media center
and complained that it must be racist.

Anyone can use our collection, including people under the age of 18. We
don't have any warnings or restrictions of any kind. No one has ever
complained. If people bring their children in to watch a video or if high
school students come in to find a resource for a paper, we assume they
will realize that it's a research and instructional collection for college
students and use caution. If they see something offensive, turn it off.
We've never had a complaint from these user groups.

I know that some faculty have had students who did not want to watch
_Dreamworlds_ and other similar programs in class, but that is something
for them to handle. We assume that they have previewed the program before
showing it or assigning it.

Even if I believed philosophically that we should be providing some type
of warning to viewers, I honestly don't know which titles would warrant a
warning. It is extremely difficult to determine the content that might
offend someone. Librarians cannot set up their own rating system. In
more than 15 years in an academic library media center, I received no more
than one or two complaints, and even then, they were for programs that
someone else was viewing in a public carrel. I think this is a non-issue.
-- Kris

On Mon, 25 Feb 2002, LeeAnne Krause wrote:

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> Hi Videolibbers-
> Has anyone ever had difficulty knowing how to appropriately deal with
> video materials that have possibly disturbing content? For example,
> documentaries such as Dreamworlds, or feature films such as Kids or Tin
> Drum. Have you ever had complaints from folks who unwittingly checked
> stuff out not knowing the content and were offended by it, or do you
> find that folks are willing to fend for themselves and not be
> hypersensitive? One issue that I'm especially concerned about is those
> films which do not fall under the category of recent American features
> and therefore don't use the rating system. If something is "R" rated,
> then that's probably warning enough, but what about foreign films and
> documentaries? We recently got in several items that might be
> disturbing to some, and we're trying to determine which of the following
> tactics we should try to head problems off:
> 1- Do nothing- don't treat those items any differently, as long as we're
> only circulating to those over 18.
> 2- Put a warning inside the video/DVD case that the materials contain
> explicit content.
> 3- Verbally warn patrons.
> 4- Have our catalogers put a warning in the library computer records for
> those films.
>
> Which, if any, of these tactics do you use, and what is your degree of
> success?
> Thanks in advance,
> LeeAnne
>
>
> LeeAnne L. Krause
> Manager of Educational Films
> USC Film Library
> 803-777-2858
> See our new acquisitions at:
> www.sc.edu/library/film.html
>
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> <DIV><FONT size=1>Hi Videolibbers-</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>Has anyone ever had difficulty knowing how to appropriately
> deal with video materials that have possibly disturbing content?&nbsp; For
> example, documentaries such as Dreamworlds, or feature films such as Kids or Tin
> Drum.&nbsp; Have you ever had complaints from folks who unwittingly checked
> stuff out not knowing the content and were offended by it, or do you find that
> folks are&nbsp;willing to fend for themselves and not be hypersensitive?&nbsp;
> One issue that I'm especially concerned about is those films which do not fall
> under the category of&nbsp;recent American features and therefore don't&nbsp;use
> the&nbsp;rating system.&nbsp; If something is "R" rated, then that's probably
> warning enough, but what about foreign&nbsp;films and documentaries?&nbsp; We
> recently got in several items that&nbsp;might be disturbing to some, and we're
> trying to determine which of the following tactics we should try to head
> problems off:</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>1- Do nothing- don't treat those items any differently, as
> long as we're only&nbsp;circulating to those over 18.</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>2-&nbsp;Put a warning inside the&nbsp;video/DVD case that the
> materials contain explicit content.</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>3-&nbsp;Verbally warn patrons.</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>4-&nbsp;Have&nbsp;our catalogers&nbsp;put a warning in the
> library computer records for those films.</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>Which, if any, of these tactics do you use, and what is your
> degree of success?</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>Thanks in advance,</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV><FONT size=1>LeeAnne</FONT></DIV>
> <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
> <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
> <DIV>LeeAnne L. Krause<BR>Manager of Educational Films<BR>USC Film
> Library<BR>803-777-2858<BR>See our new acquisitions at:<BR><A
> href="http://www.sc.edu/library/film.html">www.sc.edu/library/film.html</A></DIV>
> <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
> <DIV>&nbsp;</DIV></BODY></HTML>
>
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>

Kristine R. Brancolini, Director, Digital Library Program
Main Library E170, 1320 E. Tenth Street
Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405
Phone: 812.855.3710 | Fax: 812.856.2062 | Web: www.dlib.indiana.edu