RE: [Videolib] Movie Ratings and Public Libraries

Cartford, Peter, JCL (
Wed, 2 Nov 2005 14:28:55 -0600

Reasons not to use MPAA ratings in the selection of movies:

1) The MPAA's own standards keep shifting (as Jerry noted), so what was
once R is now PG-13 and so on.

2) The MPAA rating system has been in use only since the late 60's, so
what do you do about all the pre-ratings titles, given that there's
something in the movies to offend everyone?

3) As Jessica noted, a fair number of titles are released unrated and to
play it safe you'd have to avoid them.

4) The double standard: You use a rating system (somebody else's) to
select your movies but let all those novels and audiobooks full of cuss
words (and sex!) slip into the collection.

5) Local control: Should somebody else's rating system decide, at least
in part, what goes into your collection?

6) In qualitative terms, MPAA ratings mean nothing. They're about what
might offend, taken out of context. Movies have to be evaluated as a
whole, and sometimes the language, sex or violence fit perfectly. It
makes no sense to exclude "Schindler's List" just because it's rated R
and to include "Ernest Goes to School" just because it's rated PG.

7) MPAA ratings are strictly voluntary and have no legal status.
Libraries break no law by having movies of any rating in their

For more info on the MPAA ratings, look at the Q&A link on this web

Peter Cartford
AV Librarian
Johnson County Library
Overland Park, KS

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Nicholle
Gerharter - NCPL
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 2:12 PM
Subject: [Videolib] Movie Ratings and Public Libraries

Hello -
We are in the process of updating our video selection criteria. Can
anyone in a public library tell me whether you use ratings (G, PG,
R) as a purchasing criteria, ie: your policy states not to buy R-rated
Thank you!

Nicholle Gerharter
Reference Librarian

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