Re: [Videolib] videolib Digest, Vol 24, Issue 82

From: Lawrence Daressa <>
Date: Fri Nov 13 2009 - 15:06:54 PST

 Dear Judy,

Dear Judy,

You should get a commission for suggesting so many sensible models which
could make speciality film and video available digitally in forms
students, libraries, distributors and producers could all accept. Your
post illustrates what's possible when people think about new media not
simply as replicating legacy technology but as offering expanded
options. The server space is out there (and is incredibly cheap.) Many
small distributors are currently working on locate or build-out the
software to deliver password protected digital rentals and passkey
protected courseware. The small, speciality distributors have been
talking about setting up a single, shared fulfillment house and shopping
cart (one stop shopping) for decades; let's hope digital will make this
a reality. (Unhappily, Amazon isn't the answer; they extort 50% of each
digital rental and sale and insist on setting our prices.) Thanks for
taking the time to think about this problem so creatively.


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Sent: Friday, November 13, 2009 1:36 PM
Subject: videolib Digest, Vol 24, Issue 82

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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Students paying for access (Shoaf,Judith P)


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 16:35:08 -0500
From: "Shoaf,Judith P" <jshoaf@UFL.EDU>
Subject: Re: [Videolib] Students paying for access
To: "" <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

I just thought I would stick my nose in here as someone who has taught &
also edited a scholarly journal, has a husband who is a literature
prof., etc. I run a language lab, hence some examples.

The library is funded via tuition and other university income, right?
Students are already paying for it, as a flat part of tuition or via
their parents' taxes supporting the university. French students are not
singled out to pay for the subscriptions to, say, journals about
medieval French history and literature. They may never see, much less
use, these items, and the subscription may be very expensive. I happen
to be interested in medieval French history and literature, and I am
always amazed at & grateful for what is available at the library.

On the other hand, students in first-year French have to pay $100-200
for a textbook packet (perhaps including a paper workbook, audio lab
workbook, and/or key which allows them to access online workbooks and
multimedia). Moreover, the publishers of these books regularly issue
revised versions, ensuring that used copies can't be recycled for more
than a few years; the workbooks/passkeys are only good for one student,

On the third hand, instructors here are now required to make their
reading lists public well in advance. Bookstores order based on what
they perceive as their share of the local market. Students may order
books from Amazon,, or other sources, leaving the bookstore
with unsold inventory-though I believe the campus bookstore has a
special arrangement by which it can be reimbursed for the books of
scholarship students.

(On the fourth hand, no bookstore will ever order the Xhosa textbook,
which comes from South Africa. There may be only 4 Xhosa students a term
and it is too risky to expect them to pony up the $85 it costs (and
ordering them on the internet is too complicated for the students). So:
after 2 years of monitoring this class, I have never seen a copy of the
assigned textbook.)

(Finally, there are course-specific fees. All students in certain
courses have to pay a fee for materials used, e.g. for chem. labs -this
is where the library streaming fee comes in.)

So you have a combination of resources: the "scholarly" ones that may
only get used once in five or ten years but are of great value to the
individual who uses them; the books which complement course work and
allow students (or faculty) to research projects, work on independent
study, or swot up a subject; and, finally, textbooks, which are quite
different, are published by a different kind of publisher, and which aim
to make a maximum amount of money.

Additionally, the journal subscriptions are increasingly bundled for
digital access by groups like JHMuse or Ebsco. This way, instead of
paying 10 subscriptions to 10 journals on medieval French history and
literature, a single subscription includes all 10 along with 100 other
journals on history and literature. I like this.

The price of scholarly books has gone through the roof, BTW: you
regularly see collections of essays priced around $100. Remember that
scholarly publications (as opposed to textbooks) usually offer $0.00 in
royalties. My husband had to borrow $2k from my mom to publish his first
book (which did become a book that many scholars on certain topics
"have read" and quote, but never got him any royalties). He has made a
few thousand dollars from one book, which was designed to be a textbook
(in advanced medieval English lit classes).

Professors write and publish articles and books in hope of getting
promotions and sabbaticals during which they write more articles and
books. I assume that many documentaries get made either through grants
(which include support for the filmmakers) or by academics who are
rewarded with promotions rather than with royalties.

How does this apply to video? Gary says that he buys some expensive
videos because he feels they are important and have application to the
relevant fields. OK, that is what a librarian does, like the area
librarian who subscribes to the medieval French history and literature
journal. I was just looking through a catalogue of documentaries and I
can see that many of these are much like a scholarly article, offering a
valuable presentation of specific information, not necessarily of
interest to undergrads at all, but something that anyone researching the
topic would want to consult. Maybe there's only one person every 10
years who is researching the topic at a given institution. Still, that
information will be valuable when it is needed.

If some kind of consortium could sell annual subscriptions to a bundled
variety of digitized documentary films, I would bet that libraries would
subscribe. Instead of ordering one film for one professor, or like Gary
ordering a film in the hope that he can persuade Prof. X to use it in
class, they have access to whatever any professor needs (within the
bundle's limits) for a year. Maybe Prof. X doesn't want to use it in
class but wants to watch it and then wants to watch other documentaries
by the same person to evaluate his/her method.

Back to the film-as-textbook.

If Criterion, say, sold a bundled "course pack" of online classic
European films to students (possibly in the form of a CD sold through
the bookstore, just as the online-lab-manual passkeys bundled with
textbooks are sold through the bookstores), giving them one year's
access to 10 or more required films plus, say, 4 others recommended or
ad lib., I'll bet that professors would assign this purchase.

Better yet, authors of textbooks on film history could work with the
rights holders to obtain this kind of access for their students. Instead
of the library streaming it, the publisher would stream it and collect
$$ from each student who buys the textbook. Let's see-you sell the
textbooks + access key for $80-$100; you get much less dough than you
would if you sold each student a copy of each film, but a lot more than
if they relied on screenings + library or rental copies.

How do you keep students from sharing the passkey? (1) limit the number
of times a student's password allows access to a given film; or (2) set
up a course management system which reports to the instructor that a
student has actually watched the film and, say, completed an online
quiz. In the case of 2, the student might invite friends over to watch
Casablanca or Rules of the Game on his computer, but every enrolled
student would have to buy a passcode in order to get credit for the
film. Throw in a discount coupon allowing the student to buy hard copies
of the films at half price or something, to discourage hacking.

Of course either of these suggestions involves a huge up-front
investment in preparing the films and setting up a server that would do
what is desired and handle the load. I think it took about 8-10 years
for any language textbook company to develop really useful online
"workbooks" (basically a course management system which scores
multiple-choice and short-answer quizzes, incorporates multimedia,
collects spoken recordings and compositions, and delivers it all to the

Judy Shoaf

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End of videolib Digest, Vol 24, Issue 82

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 Fri Nov 13 15:07:16 2009

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