Re: Theatrical films in public libraries

Judy Jones (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 09:02:17 PST8PDT

All of our videos are behind the scenes, so they are paged; however,
we have quite a few films and videos to support our human sexuality
classes. They are extremely explicit an on a variety of sexual
topics. I investigated the Penal Code for California and it is
pretty clear about "pornographic" materials and minors. So, I am in
no way a lawyer, but in my book the Penal Code is far more binding on
me than ALA interpretations of free access to all.

We are not in any way overrun with high school students, but we have
a written policy about our human sexuality videos. We don't much
monitor our feature films because we don't allow the younger children
access without their parents. This respsonse is rambling, but in
conclusion, I don't think erring on the side of slightly conservative
is wrong and I believe in protecting the university from irate

Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 08:51:04 -0700
From: Jeffrey Pearson <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Subject: Re: Theatrical films in public libraries

This note is prompting me to broaden the question of appropriate video
viewing in libraries. Here at the Wayne State University David Adamany
Undergraduate Library in Detroit, we have video on open stacks, and open
access to TV/VCR combo units. So anyone can grab a video from the stacks,
throw it in a machine and start watching. This library is open to the
public, and we have alot of high school age (and younger) patrons flocking
to the place. This library has been open since Fall, and we are expecting
an explosion once school gets out. They love the hundreds of computer
terminals with free internet access (you can imagine why), and they love
the videos (especially Pulp Fiction). We are not interested in restricting
access, but I am curious if we have any legal responsibility to restrict
viewing according to the MPAA ratings system. As I understand it, adherence
to the system is voluntary. (Some may believe we have a moral
responsibility, and I invite those opinions too.)


-Jeff P.
Wayne State Libraries in Detroit

At 07:11 AM 4/21/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Hello again,
>This time I'm looking for statistics regarding videos in public
>libraries in
>the United States. I'm particularly interested in theatrical videos and
>the MPAA ratings or other ratings systems are used regarding
>acquisition, circulation, etc.
>Some years ago, Leigh Estabrook and the good folks at University of
>Illinois Library Research Center conducted a general public and
>librarian poll. A few of the results were reported in "Public vs.,
>Professional Opinion of Libraries: The Great Divide?" Library Journal
>April 1, 1992. They mentioned that 87 percent of the public believe
>libraries should have educational videos. A questions also related to
>theatrical videos, but no results were posted. Any idea of the results?
>Any information or sources regarding the circulation, usage,
>acquisition, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks.
>Thanks to all for the replies to my bar-coding inquiry. We're scheduled
>to begin next month and you saved me much stress and "reinventing the
>Michael Vollmar-Grone
>Audiovisual Librarian
>Amos Memorial Public Library
>Sidney, Ohio

Jeffrey W. Pearson
Collections Librarian
Wayne State University
David Adamany Undergraduate Library
Detroit, Michigan 48202
(313) 577-4480 (voice)
(313) 577-5265 (fax) (email)