I think a lot of it has to do with the history of the collection and how
the use and policies have evolved over the years in your institution. The
main factor of course being administrative support.
We maintain a closed stack collection with circulation to faculty staff
and students available through a media scheduling system. Currently our
media scheduling system does not interface with our main circ. system
which means we operate like a library within the main library.
Faculty love our service. We focus on their needs for instructional
support and really bend over backwards to get what they want and see that
it is available for their teaching or research use. We schedule films and
videos up to a year in advance but also provide a walkin in service.
Students may also schedule videos with faculty permission. We are a
heavily used collection and have had problems in the past with conflicts
over multiple booking requests (many of our videos are used across
disciplines). To permit students unrestricted access to our collection
would (and this is based on experience) lead to situations where videos
needed for teaching or research were sitting on a coffee table in a
student's dorm room while other students and faculty are requesting it.
We don't serve as a recreational collection. Granted students come to
our media center and watch feature films but by keeping them in the
library (and thus on reserve) they will also be available to Film Studies
students and faculty who need them. Our feature film collection is heavily
used by our English as a Foreign Language Department. We have a constant
turnover of students from Asia, Europe and other countries who are
giving viewing assignments to supplement their English Language classes.
Our flexibility with faculty over loan periods, extensions, and
assistance with research of media and acquisitions has given us a high
profile on campus and produced the kind of positive feedback that has
insured strong administrative support.
We rarely get complaints from students about not having the same
scheduling priveleges as faculty. Maybe one complaint a year. We have 35
viewing carrels to handle all types of video, DVD, VHS, Laserdisc, UMatic
(yeah there are still some around), and 16mm film. We are also open 90
hours per week so more students actually have access to the collection
than would otherwise be the case if titles were checked out to them for
extended periods. When you have a class of thirty students who want to see
the same title, why should one student be able to check it out and keep
it? Moving image materials are "time-based" unlike books which can take
weeks or months to read.
As I hinted in the beginning, our relationship with faculty is great,
and they know we will do our best to acquire, maintain, and preserve the
videos in our collection for their and their students' use. We have
almost zero theft.
Our video collection is housed in Gemtrak shelving designed for
compact storage and protection of our extensive holdings. We also have
VHS and DVD cleaning and inspection machines. I consider the video
collection to be one of if not the most fragile collections in the Library
and over the years have been able to make that case with incidents of
damage to expensive tapes, or wear due to heavy use. Academic video and
film collections should in my view be treated as archival collections to
some degree. Videos go out of print frequently, are easily damaged, and
are often difficult to find or replace and are generally produced in much
fewer numbers than prit materials.
I know how difficult it can be to locate out of print titles and have
made both the administration and acquisitions aware of this. We treat our
media materials as I think they should be, as a special collection.
This may not work for every library out there but in our situation with
heavy faculty use and a multi-campus system which we support, it has so
far proven to be the best way to go for us.
My advice is do what works best for your library in your academic
environment. Who knows we might change our policies and procedures in the
future but any decision will no doubt be with the instructional and
research mission of our collection placed first and with concern for
the accompanying preservation issues involved in maintaining moving image
Francis Poole, Librarian
Head, Instructional Media Department
University of Delaware Library
On Fri, 14 Oct 2005, Herbert, Rue wrote:
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