[Videolib] Tee Vee in Academia

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 27 Aug 2004 16:43:25 -0700

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There's an interesting (and disturbing) set of trends and implications in
this thread, I think.

Institutions in which faculty do most or all of the media recommendation
and selection (either by requesting reserve materials or by recommending
additions to broader core collections) are probably stuck with that
unfortunate model. I can't for the life of me see why some libraries allow
faculty to take the upper hand in media selection, when they wouldn't even
vaguely think about doing the same for books. Be that as it may...

Libraries which (as they well should) put selection of media in the hands
of selectors--either format or subject selections-- are another matter. It
seems to me that the tension between "just in time" collecting (i.e. in
response to explicitly articulated faculty need, specific course needs,
etc.) and "just in case" collecting (i.e. collecting that is responsive to
broader, longer-term, and often less immediately or specifically identified
needs) will continue to continue... It's a tough balancing act,
particularly in these days of bad budget craziness.

Collecting television falls somewhere into this push/pull, it seems to
me. Buying only those titles recommended by faculty or those needed for a
specific class neglects the fact that television has completely transformed
global culture and is going to continue being the focus of intense study
across disciplines for a long time to come. It may seem downright silly to
be collecting Buffy as serious grist for study--but, I assure you, it's
not. These programs MEAN something culturally. Like film, they're
increasingly important primary texts. Would we build print collections of
primary resources in such a haphazard (and timorous) manner. I think not.
The fact that tv programs are wildly popular as entertainment shouldn't
overshadow the fact that they're appropriate fare for research-level
collections. Twenty years from now, when they're handing out endowed chair
positions in Xena Studies, don't say I didn't tell you so...

have a cool weekend...


At 05:20 PM 8/27/2004 -0400, you wrote:
>We have bought "serious" series---"Eyes on the Prize" from PBS, for
>example---and some specific episodes of series such as Frontline, which we
>think will support the curriculum in general. We buy "popular" series in
>response to faculty requests; we have both the British & the American
>versions of Queer As Folk (I think two seasons of the former & three of
>the latter) in support of a sociology course. We have all of Buffy,
>Angel, and Firefly, because Joss Whedon, who created them, is an alum
>(brag, brag) who often comes to give talks to our film studies students,
>who then want to see the episodes.
>Beyond that, we haven't bought too much in the way of tv series. We do
>buy the occasional series (Freaks & Geeks comes to mind) because a
>student---or a faculty or staff member---wants us to get it, either for
>pure entertainment, or, as in the case of F&G, because the person really
>thinks it's an important item for the library to have. In those cases, we
>generally buy the specific season(s) requested, or, if none is specified,
>just the first season until we see what demand there is.
>At 05:09 PM 8/26/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>>...and just to broaden this discussion:
>>How many academic types out there are venturing into the vast
>>wasteland? As I think I mentioned awhile back, I've amassed a fair
>>amount of programming over the past couple of years, but it always seems
>>like a crap shoot. I've tried to move along genre lines, along cultural
>>construction of race, gender, ethnicity lines, etc...but it's a tough go
>>compared to feature film. How many seasons of Sex and the City to
>>get? Which cop shows will stand as parts of the TV canon? (TV
>>what?). I've taken some lead from mass comm and gender studies faculty
>>(film faculty could care less!), but otherwise, I'm flying pretty
>>blind. There's no doubt in my mind that buying this stuff is
>>important--like film, TV has become grist for study across the
>>disciplinary board. Still...
>>Colleagues in academe...whaddaya say?
>>Gary Handman
>>Media Resources Center
>>Moffitt Library
>>UC Berkeley
>>"Movies are poems, a holy bible, the great mother of us."
>> --Ted Berrigan
>Margery L. May
>Acquisitions Administrator
>Wesleyan University Library
>Acquisitions Department
>Olin Memorial Library
>Middletown, CT 06459

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley


"Movies are poems, a holy bible, the great mother of us."
--Ted Berrigan
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