Thu, 04 Apr 1996 14:37:51 PST

I rarely have time to argue with vendors about price, and try to avoid small
companies. I have noticed, however, that prices in the PBS catalog addressed
to the library are much higher than the prices for the same titles in catalogs
that are presumably going to purchasers at home.
IF I took the time to argue rather than just buy from the lowest price
catalog, I would make the point that often people will borrow items from the
library in order to decide whether they want to buy it for themselves. I've
done that myself, in fact, and bought videos after borrowing them a couple of
times from the library.
Libraries are probably not taking customers away from the companies,
but simply increasing the number of people who have access to the material.
Do commercial rental stores pay public performance rights for the videos they
buy? If we are in "competition" with anyone, that is more likely the market
we "compete" with. Our own library, however, does not purchase many "popular"
videos. Our selection policy is that we purchase materials that are presented
more usefully in video than in print, such as how to install drywall, or a
recording of an opera performance. If we have popular movies in the collection,
it is because somebody donated them to us - AFTER buying them for home use.
Public performance rights, to me, suggests that someone is making money
by showing the videos and charging people to see them. That does not apply to
our library.

(I reserve the right to change my tune, if other issues surface in an Ethics
class I'm taking later this month.)

Bonnie Hirsch
Eugene (Oregon)Public Library