RE: My silent list

Tatar, Becky (bltata@aurora.lib.il.us)
Thu, 6 Jun 2002 08:27:39 -0700 (PDT)

I don't know about other public libraries. I know many of them focus more
on feature films. We don't. Only about 15% of our budget is for feature
films, which comes to about $2000. This has to include miniseries, Academy
Award Winners, National Film Register, old classics, plus a balance between
Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Mystery, Family Entertainment, Horror, Science
Fiction, Westerns, Musicals, and Silents, as well as consideration of
suggestions from staff and patrons for "Why don't you have ________ title."
I do have a small, growing collection of Silent Pictures. We also have
Foreign Films, which is it's own separate little budget. I get some flack
from a few of the staff who are almost incredulous that we would have silent
and foreign films. However, they don't go out as much as the drama, etc. I
do have a drama teacher from one of the high schools who was absolutely
thrilled that we had "The Gold Rush," "The Kid," "The General," plus other
silents. Her students were amazed and totally loved them.

I think part of the problem is patron education. When telling people about
our collection I always mention the silents and foreign films. People are
really surprised we have them. Also, silents and foreign films take some
effort on the part of the viewer. For talkies and movies in English- you
can leave the room, and still hear what's happening. Not so with silents
and foreign films. You have to make a concentrated effort to watch all the
time - or else you miss something. Also, most silents are in black and
white, or only have some hand tinting. Many, many people are turned off by
black and white. So, another education point.

Also, you can tell from the video rental stores what people want. If more
people wanted silents and foreign films, the store collections would sure be
larger, and would include more than basic core titles, the latest Academy
Award winners, or the more well known titles from the major
directors/producers. A library that isn't serious about nonprint materials
to begin with isn't going to make a big effort to include anything other
than popular feature films in their collection.

Sorry this is so long, but this conversation pops up every once in a while.
Also, THANK YOU to Randy, for including a lovely stat in the Video Librarian
Plus - Each week, about 250 videos/dvd titles are released. Finally, an
answer to "Why don't you have ____ title."

Overwhelmed, and going under again,

Becky Tatar
Unit Head, Periodicals, Audiovisual
Aurora Public Library
1 E. Benton Street
Aurora, IL 60505
PHONE: 630-264-4100
FAX: 630-896-3209
www.aurora.lib.il.us
E-mail: bltata@aurora.lib.il.us