RE: [Videolib] Seeking data

Cartford, Peter, JCL (
Thu, 10 Jul 2003 13:47:35 -0500

I've no hard facts to offer, but here are three talking points:

1) Circ stats--Is the VHS portion of your collection still being used
actively by patrons? If yes, then why weed it? There should be no
reason to weed other than the usual--dated content, damage, etc.

2) Content matters more than format--the question should be "How good is
the subject coverage in our video collection?" not "What format is it
on?" VHS is going to be around for a while yet, it's still the only
format on which many titles are available (if your administrators are
saying 'All new titles must be on DVD' you're in big trouble), AND
libraries (especially public ones) shouldn't be the earliest adapters of
new technologies. Yes, we need to be in there getting with it, but we
also need to hold onto the older stuff for a while to protect the
slow-movers and less privileged among our patrons.

3) The one-of-a-kind or work of art argument--many film documentaries,
while ostensibly about a "hard" subject, are free-standing works of art
in themselves. In time their currency becomes less important than the
point of view and artistry that went into their making. This would
apply to a relatively small part of the collection, but maybe the part
most in need of protection when you have bean counters handing down "Off
with their heads!" weeding edicts.

I know this doesn't get at your main point, which is finding evidence to
prove the "VHS is going to be around for a while yet" statement, but I'm
not sure anyone can do that. Who knows, maybe the world will end
tomorrow. And if your administrators have a really bad case of Lust For
a New Format, there's probably no rational cure (which the above
arguments try to be) for that either.


Peter Cartford
AV Librarian
Johnson County Library
Overland Park, KS

-----Original Message-----
From: John Holland []
Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2003 9:43 AM
Subject: [Videolib] Seeking data

I need to do a collective brain pick, and ask if any of you have run
across an article or report on the status of non-feature ("educational")
films being issued on DVD. As I think we all know, there are hundreds of
films which we have had in our collections for years which have not been
issued in DVD, and the common belief is that they may never be issued as
such, due to such things as clearance costs, acquiring disc rights from
the producer, demand, etc. I haven't run across anything in print which
gives hard statistical fact that might sway some sceptical minds.

The video collection at Chicago Public Library's central library is
currently under mandate from the administration to weed approximately
half its educational VHS tapes - nearly 13,000 videos - and instructed
to replace them all with DVD, or just get rid of them. We have tried to
explain that many (most?) of these are not available on DVD, and due to
the factors mentioned above, may never be released as such. Obviously,
some companies like PBS Video are releasing their best sellers as such,
but it has already been mentioned on this list that "Eyes on the Prize"
is one essential title which may go out of print for reasons of
cost-prohibitive clearances. The larger, more commercial/high-profile
companies are not really the problem; it is the more specialized
publishers that are my concern. Will we ever be able to replace
California Newsreel titles on DVD, for example?

I am desperately trying to defend a heavily used collection that is
nowhere near being obsolete, so any documentation from outside sources
would be appreciated.

John Holland
Chicago Public Library
Harold Washington Library Center
400 S. State Street
Chicago, IL 60605

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