Re: Dealing with disturbing content

John Holland (jholland@chipublib.org)
Mon, 25 Feb 2002 11:56:14 -0800 (PST)

A few years ago the library board decided that we would check out any video to anyone
who brought it up to the circ desk. Previously there had been an "18 or over"
restriction on all videos (including kiddie fare like Arthur and Magic School Bus).
The official view is that parents are expected to be supervising their kids in the
library. That said, we have all of the box art on the videos and plenty of movie
guides like Leonard Maltin and Videohound lying around for people to check if they
aren't sure about the content, and if they ask I will share any knowledge I have of
the film, but we don't impose any judgements otherwise. We rarely get complaints
(which we did get when we restricted everything to adults), including after The Tin
Drum mess - it got checked out a lot more, but no one lodged a complaint. I have
heard more complaining from people who disagree with the genre labels - comedy
especially. I try to explain that those reflect the filmmakers' intentions rather
than a guarantee that everyone will find it funny: The Ruling Class was one incident
I remember in particular! And then there are the people who want to know why we don't
have a porn section!

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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--
John Holland
Librarian
Chicago Public Library
Media Express
(312) 747-4100