Re: RE: TV Turn-Off

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 3 Feb 1999 10:14:05 -0800 (PST)

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Just back from ALA in Philly, where this issue was extensively discussed at
the Video Round Table Meeting and various ACRL groups. The VRT has
supported sending a letter to ALA President Ann Symon, pointing out the
problems with ALA's support of the TV -Free notion. The letter will be
co-signed by the ACRL ARTS section, the ACRL Film and Broadcast Discussion
Group, the Chair of the ACRL Media Resources Committee, and (perhaps) the
Chair of the PLA AV Committee. A request for a resolution to ALA Council
to rescind ALA support for this program was sent forward via the ACRL ARTS
section. Not sure of the fate of the latter.

The discussions on this list regarding this affair are pretty interesting.
In my book, however, there's only one issue here--and it's absolute:
libraries are in the business of providing the most diverse and apposite
collections possible for their given clientele. We are not in the business
of either censoring or limiting access to the available universe of
information and entertainment materials. We are similarly not in the
business of telling our clients how to use their time. We ARE in the
business of pointing our users to the best and brightest materials
available, regardless of the format. We ARE in the business of supporting
critical thinking and literacy...literacy meaning critical reading,
listening, AND viewing.

Coming down on the side of one medium and condemning the use of another is
a very dangerous slippery slope...one that NO librarian should be involved
in climbing.

>This entry is offered in the spirit of mediation, not criticism. You know,
>if you academic media librarians met our youth librarians before this
>discussion, you would probably like each other a lot and find many ideas in
>common. And it seems to me that you may have some blinders on about this
>particular issue, assuming that all public librarians have the same narrow
>view of TV turn-off as the woman who posted the first inquiry.
> I hope you can accept that most librarians are intelligent,
>thoughtful people who are interested in encouraging other people to be
>thoughtful about the ways they use their time. Now I am making an assumption
>about academic librarians when I suggest that you are dealing with a
>sub-set of the population which is more oriented toward learning and active
>thinking. Granted that the population which uses the public libary is a
>similar sub-set, but children who fall in that sub-set sometimes need
>encouragement and reinforcement from us when all their peers talk about is
>sports and TV programs. So TV Turn-Off is just one of the ways we can give
>them encouragement. If you could see a list of the hundreds of different
>programs we offer through the Youth department, you would probably find
>several programs you'd enjoy yourselves. We invite you to come visit.
> Here a couple of replies from our librarians, but I'm not going to
>forward any more of the discussion to either group. I think we are just
>talking about different parts of the elephant.
>Bonnie
>
> Jeff says:
>1. We have never done anything "preachy" for TV Turnoff Week. Nobody is
>made to feel guilty for not participating. This is an experiment in life we
>offer, nothing more. Many people report that the experiment is successful.
>I have not yet had anyone say that they have regretted participating.
>
>2. Church/cult analogy: not especially applicable. This program is about
>the AMOUNT of time people spend watching TV, not its content. I don't care
>if you watch National Geographic all day--if you're watching all day,
>there's something wrong. If you spent twenty-eight hours a week going to
>church services--of any kind--most people would probably agree that you have
>a problem.
>
>3. We include computer and video games in our turnoff. The idea is to get
>out from behind that screen and do something different.
>
>4. When a TCI cable public relations person phoned me to complain about the
>turnoff one year, I invited her to bring someone to do a presentation on
>"responsible television viewing." The answer was--and still is--"we'll get
>back to you on that."
>
>In the meantime, I see no objection to continuing to offer our little
>one-week experiment. It's like the materials in our collection--if it
>doesn't appeal to you, don't do it.
> ----------
>Oksana said: Rob, for you to assume that the teenagers you work with are
>devoid of any
>critical thought in terms of the television they watch, is not giving them
>enough credit.
>
>and Rob replies: Huh? I wouldn't presume to judge the quality of anyones
>thought. Teenagers or otherwise. I thought what I was saying was it is
>about how one spends one's time. We all get a finite amount and I don't
>want to spend a disproportionate amount of mine "watching" anything
>representing an experience instead of "having" an experience. I'm sure you
>will agree that I'm not thinking about this very hard at all, I resent time
>spent in front of this screen as well, I'm just shooting my mouth off.
>Bonnie will attest that I do this early and often in our library. rob
> ----------
>
>Bonnie Hirsch
>Eugene (Oregon) Public Library
>bonnie.c.hirsch@ci.eugene.or.us

Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
510-643-8566
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld
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Just back from ALA in Philly, where this issue was extensively
discussed at the Video Round Table Meeting and various ACRL groups.
The VRT has supported sending a letter to ALA President Ann Symon,
pointing out the problems with ALA's support of the TV -Free notion.
The letter will be co-signed by the ACRL ARTS section, the ACRL Film
and Broadcast Discussion Group, the Chair of the ACRL Media Resources
Committee, and (perhaps) the Chair of the PLA AV Committee. A request
for a resolution to ALA Council to rescind ALA support for this program
was sent forward via the ACRL ARTS section. Not sure of the fate of
the latter.

The discussions on this list regarding this affair are pretty
interesting. In my book, however, there's only one issue here--and
it's absolute: libraries are in the business of providing the most
diverse and apposite collections possible for their given clientele.
We are <underline>not</underline> in the business of either censoring
or limiting access to the available universe of information and
entertainment materials. We are similarly not in the business of
telling our clients how to use their time. We ARE in the business of
pointing our users to the best and brightest materials available,
regardless of the format. We ARE in the business of supporting
critical thinking and literacy...literacy meaning critical reading,
listening, AND viewing.

Coming down on the side of one medium and condemning the use of another
is a very dangerous slippery slope...one that NO librarian should be
involved in climbing.

>This entry is offered in the spirit of mediation, not criticism. You
know,

>if you academic media librarians met our youth librarians before
this

>discussion, you would probably like each other a lot and find many
ideas in

>common. And it seems to me that you may have some blinders on about
this

>particular issue, assuming that all public librarians have the same
narrow

>view of TV turn-off as the woman who posted the first inquiry.

> I hope you can accept that most librarians are intelligent,

>thoughtful people who are interested in encouraging other people to
be

>thoughtful about the ways they use their time. Now I am making an
assumption

>about academic librarians when I suggest that you are dealing with a

>sub-set of the population which is more oriented toward learning and
active

>thinking. Granted that the population which uses the public libary is
a

>similar sub-set, but children who fall in that sub-set sometimes need

>encouragement and reinforcement from us when all their peers talk
about is

>sports and TV programs. So TV Turn-Off is just one of the ways we can
give

>them encouragement. If you could see a list of the hundreds of
different

>programs we offer through the Youth department, you would probably
find

>several programs you'd enjoy yourselves. We invite you to come
visit.

> Here a couple of replies from our librarians, but I'm not going to

>forward any more of the discussion to either group. I think we are
just

>talking about different parts of the elephant.

>Bonnie

>

> Jeff says:

>1. We have never done anything "preachy" for TV Turnoff Week. Nobody
is

>made to feel guilty for not participating. This is an experiment in
life we

>offer, nothing more. Many people report that the experiment is
successful.

>I have not yet had anyone say that they have regretted participating.

>

>2. Church/cult analogy: not especially applicable. This program is
about

>the AMOUNT of time people spend watching TV, not its content. I don't
care

>if you watch National Geographic all day--if you're watching all day,

>there's something wrong. If you spent twenty-eight hours a week going
to

>church services--of any kind--most people would probably agree that
you have

>a problem.

>

>3. We include computer and video games in our turnoff. The idea is
to get

>out from behind that screen and do something different.

>

>4. When a TCI cable public relations person phoned me to complain
about the

>turnoff one year, I invited her to bring someone to do a presentation
on

>"responsible television viewing." The answer was--and still
is--"we'll get

>back to you on that."

>

>In the meantime, I see no objection to continuing to offer our little

>one-week experiment. It's like the materials in our collection--if
it

>doesn't appeal to you, don't do it.

> ----------

>Oksana said: Rob, for you to assume that the teenagers you work with
are

>devoid of any

>critical thought in terms of the television they watch, is not giving
them

>enough credit.

>

>and Rob replies: Huh? I wouldn't presume to judge the quality of
anyones

>thought. Teenagers or otherwise. I thought what I was saying was it
is

>about how one spends one's time. We all get a finite amount and I
don't

>want to spend a disproportionate amount of mine "watching" anything

>representing an experience instead of "having" an experience. I'm
sure you

>will agree that I'm not thinking about this very hard at all, I resent
time

>spent in front of this screen as well, I'm just shooting my mouth
off.

>Bonnie will attest that I do this early and often in our library.
rob

> ----------

>

>Bonnie Hirsch

>Eugene (Oregon) Public Library

>bonnie.c.hirsch@ci.eugene.or.us

<color><param>1E1E,1B1B,1B1B</param>

Gary Handman

Director

Media Resources Center

Moffitt Library

UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

510-643-8566

ghandman@library.berkeley.edu

http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

</color><color><param>FFFF,0000,0000</param>"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,

it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld</color>

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