Re: [Videolib] Whither Media or What?

From: John Vallier <>
Date: Tue Apr 07 2009 - 16:57:13 PDT

Great question, Jared. I think both "media" and "librarian" are
problematic terms:
- many users tend to think of "media" in terms of mass media , e.g.
news (that's why I get newspaper related questions referred to me
from time to time);
- people don't rent "media" from Netflix or Blockbuster, or download
"media" from itunes. They rent "videos" and watch movies or download
"mp3s" and listen to music.
And if you look up "media" in OED the phrase "media centre" (sic)
stands alone. Among all the other media-hyphenated phrases it's the
only one associated with audio-visual media and not mass media, news,
reporters, etc. It's also, predominately, a US term. I don't think
it's used elsewhere much, but please correct me if I'm wrong.

"Librarian" carries a lot of baggage for our profession: "the keeper
or custodian of a library" (OED). And a "library" is meant to be for
books: "A place set apart to contain books for reading, study, or
reference" (OED). Unless associated with a certain discipline or
subject area--such as an ethnomusicology archive or an oral history
collection--media librarians are defined in terms of what they are
not: non-book caretakers.

So what instead? AV Archivists? Perhaps, but archivists have a
different mission, and AV has it's own backlog of issues.

I know that was probably far from helpful, but thanks anyway for
raising the issue!

John Vallier
Head, Distributed Media Services
University of Washington Libraries

VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Tue Apr 7 16:57:43 2009

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