Re: [Videolib] DVD vs. VHS in public libraries -- survey

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 08 Sep 2003 12:24:27 -0700

Thanks, Mike...this is purty darned interesting...

There's a rather depressing implication buried in these statistics, I
think. If libraries let the format rather than the content determine
collection development policies and directions, I despair. Let's face it,
although some distributors of educational/documentary works have
enthusiastically hopped on the DVD bandwagon, many more have not, and may
not for a looooong time to come (or never). A collection of non-fiction
works that veers heavily toward DVD titles will almost certainly bypass
many, if not most, works produced by independent documentary filmmakers--at
least in the short term. Letting format determine the nature of collection
at this particular point in time means building a collection heavily biased
toward home video... Seems to me that it has been an on-going, uphill
battle in most public libraries to build collections that venture beyond
popular movies and mainstream fiction works... I certainly hope that the
advent of a new format doesn't make this battle even more grim...

Gary

>Last week I posted a brief survey on the VIDEOLIB and PUBLIB lists, asking
>public librarians about their current DVD & VHS purchase patterns. Here’s
>the original survey:
>
>1. What percentage of FICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS
>(i.e. "purchasing 60% DVD, 40% VHS").
>
>2. What percentage of NONFICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS?
>
>3. A quick note about your library size, video budget, and community
>makeup would be helpful too.
>
>Below is a very unscientific summary of the results. I’m a lousy
>statistician so I’ve simply included brief quotes. Some of the results,
>especially question #3, were not easy to summarize, so I have included all
>the unedited responses (with library names removed) following the summary.
>(Maybe a math whiz out there can correlate DVD/VHS ratios to library size,
>budget, etc. Good luck!)
>
>I heard from 15 people, but only 10 offered figures. The remainder
>indicated they would be starting DVD collections soon and wanted the
>results to aid in collection development. A wide variety of librarians
>responded, representing everything from small rural libraries to large
>urban settings.
>
>
>SUMMARY:
>
>All but one respondent still purchase VHS. The one who doesn’t wrote: “We
>stopped purchasing any VHS materials in January 2003. We don't even
>accept donations, as we feel it is a dead technology.”
>
>Though the other respondents still purchase both formats, percentages vary
>greatly. Here are some samples (each respondent is separated by dashes):
>
>FICTION: “70% DVD 30% VHS for 2003. It's likely to go to 80/20 or even
>90/10 next year, though I may be forced to go all-DVD…”
>NONFICTION: “30% DVD 70% VHS for 2003. This will change in 2004 as well”
>
>---
>
>FICTION: “currently 50/50, though VHS will be decreased soon, I suspect.”
>NONFICTION: “better than 90% VHS, though that will be changing soon also.”
>This same person also responded, re durability of both formats: “DVD
>certainly saves space, but we've been very disappointed in the durability.
>We have VHS with 250+ circs. I'm lucky to get a DVD to 40 before it's
>damaged or lost.”
>
>---
>
>FICTION: “100% DVD.”
>NONFICTION: “100% VHS (Most kids non is not available on DVD yet).”
>
>---
>
>FICTION: “70-80% DVD”
>NONFICTION: “70-80% DVD”
>
>---
>
>“About half DVD, half VHS in both areas”
>
>---
>
>FICTION: “41% DVD and 59% VHS”
>NONFICTION: “about 80% VHS vs. 20% DVD.”
>
>---
>
>NONFICTION: “Video - 72%; DVD - 35%”
>
>---
>
>“I tend to get [older titles] in video, thinking they will appeal to the
>more senior users.
>With newly released titles I am buying them in DVD. If they are
>tremendously popular I am also buying in VHS. That's not a hard and vast
>rule and I can't give you percentages on any of this… In my previous
>library I purchased a lot of non-fiction but I am buying much less now
>because it gets so little use.”
>
>---
>
>
>UNEDITED RESPONSES:
>
>1. 70% DVD 30% VHS for 2003. It's likely to go to 80/20 or even 90/10
>next year, though I may be forced to go all-DVD.
>
>2. 30% DVD 70% VHS for 2003. This will change in 2004 as well--I'll go
>to: prefer DVD, get on VHS only if not available on DVD. I guess that's
>effectively an all-DVD policy isn't it!
>
>3. collection size: 1,273,000 all materials, 82,431 VHS, 8,874 DVD budget:
>$2,300,000 all materials, $59,800 VHS, $84,000 DVD, $143,800 VHS/DVD total
>(video figures include both children's and adult) community: 350,000
>population (approx.) in X County, affluent and mostly white
>
>---
>
>1. What percentage of FICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs.. VHS
>- currently 50/50, though VHS will be decreased soon, I suspect. There's
>still not much in Children's as compared to VHS. Our VHS units have about
>70 children's titles and 50 family titles each, plus about 50 drama, 40
>comedy, 25 action, 20 mystery and a dozen musical and SF. There's just
>not enough out there in DVD yet to meet those numbers without lots of
>duplication of older titles.
>2. What percentage of NONFICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs..
>VHS? - better than 90% VHS, though that will be changing soon
>also. Again, for the instructional - math, science, health, car repair,
>cake decorating, hairstyling, etc. - there's just not a whole lot
>available yet.
>DVD certainly saves space, but we've been very disappointed in the
>durability. We have VHS with 250+ circs. I'm lucky to get a DVD to 40
>before it's damaged or lost.
>3. A quick note about your library size, video budget, and community
>makeup would be helpful too - We're the county district library. We have
>5 branches plus bookmobile and homebound service. Our budget had been
>closing in on $8 million, but with the dire state budget situation, we're
>down to just over $5 million. The materials budget took the major hit…
>
>---
>
>This info is applicable to my department only. Each department has
>individual
>needs, budget, etc.
>
>1. Fiction-100% DVD. This was a recent decision on my part.
>2. Non-fiction 100% VHS (Most kids non is not available on DVD yet).
>3. 13,000 community, small/med size library, $1800 per year for VHS/DVD in
>Youth Department. Individual budgets for other AV materials.
>
>---
>
>Our library has around 300,000 items in its collection. We have
>approximately 1,741 fiction DVDs and 158 nonfiction DVDs. We own 7,345
>fiction videos and 3291 nonfiction videos.
>
>This year my video/DVD budget is $25,400. So far at least 70-80% of these
>purchases have been DVDs, though I don't have exact figures for you. The
>same holds true for both fiction and nonfiction.
>
>Our metropolitan area population is approximately 160,000. Most people are
>white and middle class, comfortable but not affluent. Unemplyment has been
>rising.
>
>We are by far the largest public library, though there are two other
>public libraries within the metropolitan area. Our economy is varied,
>meaning we have manufacturing, electronics, telemarketing, grain
>processing, construction, and so on.
>
>---
>
>We just purchased our first DVDs; planned to start last year but budget
>was so poor we held off.
>
>We are a county library, one full service outlet and one outlet open 20
>hours per week. We serve a county population of 29,000, largely rural,
>coal mining & farming being traditional sources of income, few small
>industries are here. Right now our materials budget is $30,000 and I set
>aside about $3,000 for audiovisual. I just made an arbitrary guestimate
>and said $500 for DVDs. And yes, that's for BOTH branches. I set the video
>figure at $750. We spend more on recorded books, but that's just because
>we have a standing order. Last year we had money at the end of the year so
>we spent much more
>than that. But I guessed at those figures based on circulation and overall
>budget. No formula!
>
>We have bought probably 10% nonfiction. And I guess that is true for both
>formats.
>
>---
>
>We stopped purchasing any VHS materials in January 2003. We don't even
>accept donations, as we feel it is a dead technology.
>
>---
>
>1. What percentage of FICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS
>(i.e. "purchasing 60% DVD, 40% VHS").
>
>2. What percentage of NONFICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs.
>VHS?
>
>Right now, it's probably about half DVD, half VHS in both areas. We use
>Baker & Taylor as our primary vendor.
>
>3. A quick note about your library size, video budget, and community makeup
>would be helpful too.
>
>Our library serves a city of about 120,000 as well as surrounding
>areas…Unfortunately I can't provide information about the budget, as we're
>on an October-September fiscal year and the city council hasn't adopted
>next year's budget yet. I expect to take a big hit in materials.
>
>---
>
>I am continuing to buy DVDs but videos as well. We have a very large
>elderly community and I don't know how many of them have DVD players.
>
>The video collection was not well developed when I got here so I am going
>back and buying lots of older titles. I tend to get those in video,
>thinking they will appeal to the more senior users.
>
>With newly released titles I am buying them in DVD. If they are
>tremendously popular I am also buying in VHS. That's not a hard and vast
>rule and I can't give you percentages on any of this.
>
>We are a town of 25,000. I have allocated $6,000 for VHS/DVD.
>
>In my previous library I purchased a lot of non-fiction but I am buying
>much less now because it gets so little use. We do shelve them with the
>non-fiction books.
>
>What is proving to be very popular here are the series of BBC/PBS videos I
>have been buying.
>
>---
>
>Here are some rough estimates on our collection spending.
>
>1. What percentage of FICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS
>(i.e. purchasing 60% DVD, 40% VHS).
>
>…We purchase about 41% DVD and 59% VHS. I thought we were closer to 50/50
>(and we are with our "popular" titles such as new releases) but the
>non-fiction purchasing tips us back as we do more purchasing of NF in VHS
>format.
>
>2. What percentage of NONFICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS?
>
>That's a harder % to get at since my budget isn't split out between
>fiction and non-fiction. I'd guess it's about 80% VHS vs. 20% DVD.
>
>3. A quick note about your library size, video budget, and community
>makeup would be helpful too.
>
>Quick Facts:
>Population… - 265,000
>Library Cardholders ­ 100,000
>Non-Print Materials Budget - $435, 600
>System Video/DVD - $218, 520
>Cool Video - $29, 000
>TOTAL VIDEO/DVD: $247, 520
>
>System Video/DVD purchased for Main Library, 6 neighborhood branches, and
>2 mini-branches
>
>% Main Library Circulation…­ 42% (378,000 items circ’ed last year)
>Total Items in Collection ­ 33, 800 (33,786)
>Adult Videos ­ 7583
>Juv Videos ­ 2801
>Adult DVDs ­ 1119
>Juv DVDs - 159
>
>---
>
>1. What percentage of FICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs. VHS
>(i.e. purchasing 60% DVD, 40% VHS). For the Adult Services Department
>only, and the video and dvd budgets are separate:Video - Fiction, which
>includes all genres, miniseries and foreign is about 18.5% of the video
>budget - Feature films are $1200, miniseries are $700 and foreign films
>are $700, out of a total video budget of $14,000. For our DVD budget, I
>would say it is probably more like 65% fiction - feature film genres,
>miniseries and foreign. I see this changing as more nonfiction comes out
>on DVD.
>(Also, I have been very bad. I grossly overspent the DVD budget this year.)
>The DVD budget was $4000 this year. I think this is going to change in
>the next couple of years. I have been doing some collection development
>planning for the DVD collection and searching for purchase information for
>feature films. I noticed that a few older titles are not available at all
>on VHS through one of the vendors I use - AEC/CD-1 stop. Also, many older
>titles - Academy Award titles, Tribune best lists, etc., have not yet been
>issued on DVD, or for some of them, vhs.
>
>2. What percentage of NONFICTION titles are you now purchasing on DVD vs.
>VHS? Video - 72%; DVD - 35%
>
>3. A quick note about your library size, video budget, and community
>makeup would be helpful too. [Library] has 1 main library, and 2
>branches, one of which just underwent expansion, plus a brand new
>bookmobile that visits about 30 schools and community sites. Total items
>for all locations is at about 490,000. As of July 2003, our video
>collection at the main library - adult & children's is 10,068, and 583
>DVDs. For all 3 locations, there are 13.344 videos and 729 DVDs….
>
>---
>
>
>Mike Boedicker
>Audiovisual Director & Webmaster
>Danville Public Library
>319 N. Vermilion, Danville, IL 61832
>(217) 477-5223 ext. 123 / Fax: (217) 477-5230
>Library homepage: http://www.danville.lib.il.us
>Personal homepage: http://www.boedicker.net
>
>"There are three sides to every story: my side, your side, and the truth.
>And no one is lying."
>-- Robert Evans
>
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Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

"In societies where modern conditions of production prevail,
all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of
spectacles."
--Guy Debord

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