Letterbox vs reformatted

Mary Gontarek --- Owatonna Public Library (MARYG@selco.lib.mn.us)
Fri, 20 Mar 1998 14:28:34 -0600

I purchase videos for a medium-size public library and would like to get some
input on what other film and video librarians think about widescreen vs
reformatted videos in their collections. Following a search of other library
databases, it would appear that I'm the only one who orders widescreen format,
and if there are others out there, why isn't it mentioned in the record. Could
it be that film and especially video is treated like a nuisance rather than
an important part of a public library collection? In most cases, the cataloguing is so minimal that there's no added entry for actors, directors, etc., let
alone a mention of any special differences in content or format.
I know many patrons - and obviously librarians - are confused about the whole
format business, there isn't even an industry standard on what to call it -
letterbox or widescreen? As a self-confessed film fanatic, I find it difficuilt
to understand why anyone would want to watch only a portion of the film as
opposed to seeing the entire image. It's sort like reading an abridged book.
We have a difference of opinion within our region about whether it's important
to give the patron some clue about which version of a video they're finding
when they search our database. For example: One record for Star Wars with a
note indicating that some versions may have extra scenes added, etc. or a
separate record for the new collector's edition which has additional footage.
To complicate matters, there is also the collector's edition in widescreen
and probably a Spanish language version as well.
I'd really appreciate some feedback on this issue. I'm the only A.V. librarian in the region and will be a small voice crying in the wilderness!!