Re: Theatrical films in public libraries

M. Dew (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 16:09:52 CDT

I guess being a private institution, we are fortunate not to have to deal
with non-SMU I.D. card holders using our video library. I would hate to
have to police young video watchers a la Blockbuster, Inc. Sad, but
true: there are many who ARE legally of age (some who are probably on the
faculty...) who probably aren't intellectually mature enough to
get much out of our uncut version of Cronenberg's Crash, or
Schlondorff's Tin Drum.

-Margaret Dew
Center for Media and Instructional Tech
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, TX


> 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
> parents.
> Date: Tue, 21 Apr 1998 08:51:04 -0700
> Reply-to:
> 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.)
> Thanks,
> -Jeff P.
> Wayne State Libraries in Detroit