Re: Dealing with disturbing content

Michael Vollmar-Grone (
Thu, 28 Feb 2002 06:42:12 -0800 (PST)

More than a decade ago, research found that the Motion Picture
Association of America (MPAA) Rating System influenced video collection
development in American public libraries. Four years ago, I confirmed
that this was apparently still true in Ohio while conducting a research
project to conclude my MLS.

My suspicion has been that some librarians, directors, and boards tend
to acquire only videos that are perceived to be safe. My experience has
been that controversial films do not generate any more complaints than
other acquisitions.

In fact, we’ve received only a couple of complaints during the past 11
years about the dozen X and NC-17 rated videos, including “Bad
Lieutenant,” and handful of Unrated versions of films, including
“Requiem for a Dream.”

The complaints tend to address what we don’t offer rather than what is
available. For example, last month a patron wrote, “there are too many
abortion and evolution videos and no Bill Gaither tapes.” (We will be
adding Gaither’s “Freedom Band” next week.)

Although this community cannot be described as progressive, the video
collection has been since its inception some 19 years ago. Among the
original 120 titles were a How To concerning human sexuality and 20 R
rated films. We continue the tradition by adding titles based on
content rather than artificial ratings systems. However, video
borrowing is available to those under 18 only if a parent signs a
consent form.

A wide-ranging collection can survive and flourish only if there is
support from the director, board of trustees and community. For what
it’s worth, during the past several years AV circulation has lead all
departments here.

Michael Vollmar-Grone
Amos Memorial Public Library
230 East North Street
Sidney, Ohio  45365

"Your Unique Video Source"