Re: Fee vs. free videos

Jim Scholtz (
Mon, 4 Mar 2002 12:16:10 -0800 (PST)

Hi Jean, I've been a media librarian - head of media depts for larger
libraries and library systems for about 22 years so I've got some
experience. I'm also currently a library director, so I'm fairly versed in
the budgeting process. First, I'd find out if the money you collect really
does go back into the video purchasing budget (it probably is a line item
in the revenues budget; based on estimates from the previous FY) - meaning
that it is really funded initially by the general revenue fund, but
"recycled" back into the budget as funds are acquired. Has there ever been
a history of the library increasing the fee/decreasing the video budget due
to increased/decreased revenues (circulation?)? Also, are patrons
complaining about the fee structure currently? Don't get me wrong - I'm
not necessarily in favor of fees, but if they're working and it is a viable
way of subsidizing/funding a collection that would be difficult to maintain
without that funding, then I don't think the formula should be changed.
Charging fees for loans also may have some rating constraints upon the
loaning institution - e.g. loan charges in certain states mandate that the
MPAA ratings must be prominently displayed on the box spine - this applies
to fees even called "maintenance fees." In my experience, the dissolution
of fees causes a remarkable swell in circulation, but it also depends upon
the type of video collection you have in the first place (more feature
videos, less nonfiction/documentary or vice-versa - multiple copies of
titles, etc.) Even if you retain/rethink fees (maybe charge less - why
$1.50 anyway?), you should have a well-thought out collection development
policy/selection policy. There are some great books that talk about these
issue and provide sample policies by authors like Gary Handman, Randy
Pitman, and James C. Scholtz. Hope this information helps. Jim Scholtz.
m relatively new to my video librarian position at a medium-sized
>public library, and in the process of figuring things out, I'm also shaking
>up a little dust. We currently charge $1.50 per week for all videos, both
>feature and documentary. I have been told that the money we get from rental
>fees is the money we use to purchase new videos. (unconfirmed)
>I'm trying to identify some libraries that have recently gone from fee to
>free videos, or any variation on the theme, to ask some questions about the
>process and the result, especially...did the circulation jump? were the
>shelves bare? what were the problems?
>Thanks for your help. Jean Penn