[Videolib] Television series in public libraries

Griest, Bryan (BGriest@ci.glendale.ca.us)
Mon, 13 Sep 2004 18:00:12 -0700

Here at Glendale Public, we have a very generous Friends group and a
thriving rental collection which funds our video collection. I boast, but
that doesn't mean I don't have collection development choices to make. My
belief is that there is always going to be a fine line between always giving
patrons what they want (which probably means lots and lots of copies of only
popular shows/movies, all the time) and making available items to which many
patrons may not have access otherwise (documentaries, shorts, foreign films,
non-fiction titles). This is not news, of course, but it does serve to
remind us that in many cases we have to look at what our missions are. In my
case, Glendale PL has a responsibility for the education and entertainment
of our patrons, so not buying TV programs is not really an option. What
shows do I purchase? The ones that I think are either "culturally
significant" (which include "The Sopranos" and "The Simpsons", among
others), or "artistically significant" (which include "Homicide" and
"Wiseguy"), etc. I would not buy "I Dream of Jeannie" based on my criteria
necessarily, but if my community for one reason or another began to request
it, I would then be "forced" to acknowledge that interest and would seek to
make room in the budget for it.
My previous libraries did not have as much money to spend on their
collections, so I had far fewer options each month, but even so, I found
money to buy some of the series. Given that I think television is as valid
an artform as feature film, I believe discriminating against artifacts based
on their method of distribution or their availability is somewhat elitist.
Even "M*A*S*H*" or "Star Trek" can't be found in syndication too much
anymore; access to episodes of all shows declines over time, some faster
than others. The continued existence of any television show is not
guaranteed to any of us; shouldn't we try to preserve public access to as
much of this aspect of our cultural past (and present) as possible? If we
don't, who will?
Bryan Griest