RE: Fee vs. free videos

Michael Vollmar-Grone (
Sun, 3 Mar 2002 09:09:35 -0800 (PST)

Our library serves a community of 50,000. Slightly more of the
population lives in the county than the city. When our video collection
was started nearly 19 years ago, all videos had $1.00 rental charge for
two days use. Over time the fees in various categories, e.g.
informational, childrens, black and white, etc., were eliminated until
finally in May 2000, the remaining group, recent theatrical releases,
was designated rent-free. The DVD collection was initiated the previous
month rent-free. Circulation of that collection continues to rise
dramatically, currently being used at twice the collection size.

Videotape circulation over the past 11 years has varied. There have
been periods of growth as well as decline. From 1991 through 1993, we
had an aggregate growth of 55.2 percent. Totals for 1994 were similar
to 1993. From 1995 through 1997 there was a decline of 43.1 percent.
>From 1998 through 2000, circulation increased 36.0 percent.

Comparing videotape circulation during 2001, the first full year of no
rental fees, against 1999, the last full year of some rental fees, finds
a growth of 52.5 percent. That is significantly more than the 20ish
percent we were growing during the three previous years. It is
important to note that circulation was in a growth trend before adding
the no-fees stimulus. Other factors can influence circulation.

Looking at the impact of eliminating fees in the various categories over
time, we found that while growth was spurred, those increases would
plateau or diminish if other variables were not addressed.

Customer service is a high priority. To provide quality service,
staffing levels and training must be adequate. After examining the
circulation patterns, staffing has been increased during certain periods
of the workday.

Other factors that we’ve found to be important in growth include
facilitating access to materials, quickly adding new releases to the
collections, and offering multiple copies of high demand titles.

Good luck!

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

"Your Unique Video Source"