Re: Interesting prices/American Libraries knocks video

Randy Pitman (
Mon, 6 Dec 1999 10:06:43 -0800 (PST)

Sally's correct: we are dealing with people of good will on both sides of
the issue (the inflation of retail-priced items is, I think, truly lowlife,
but also relatively rare amongst vendors). I also agree with Milos'
assessment of a library market that--though potentially huge--has yet to
bloom (I've personally spoken to librarians with budgets upwards of $50,000
who only purchase Hollywood feature films on video, period).

Now, for something truly depressing/maddening: I had to look twice at my
latest issue of "American Libraries" because I thought the date must have
been "December 1899" not "December 1999." On pgs. 36 and 37, you'll find an
incredibly obtuse Luddite one-two punch.

In the "On My Mind" column by Steve W. Schaefer, director of the Uncle Remus
Reg Library in Madison, GA, he writes: "Lending books to people of all ages
for no charge is the primary role of a public library....I could get rid of
videos--it would be tough--but I would survive....Why don't we cut out the
New Age techno-babble and just admit that books are the essential commodity
in our profession?"

Blood-boiling stuff to be sure, but keep in mind that it is a guest
editorial. More damaging and risible to my mind is "American Libraries"
editor Leonard Kniffel's editorial, "Read and Learn: Two Words That Still
Say It All," in which he states that "In fact, if we ever need to summarize
the mission of libraries for this entire century *and the next* (emphasis
mine) in a word or two we can still do it....the word at the heart of every
library is *read* (emphasis his)."

Obviously, Leonard Kniffel should have the right to speak his own mind as
well. However, I'm pretty concerned when the editor of the membership
magazine for ALA makes a sweeping (and rather dumb) generalization that ipso
facto negates the relevance of key political groups within the ALA
infrastructure--including the Video Round Table.

In looking over the masthead for "American Libraries", I see that the
"editor must assume an obligation to represent the best interests of the
Association *and its units fairly* (emphasis mine) and as fully as
possible..." Somehow, I'm not seeing that happening here.

Now I have to put yet another editorial on the back burner to deal with

Randy Pitman
Video Librarian
8705 Honeycomb Ct. NW
Seabeck, WA 98380
Tel: (800) 692-2270

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: Multiple recipients of list <>
Sent: Monday, December 06, 1999 7:31 AM
Subject: Re: Interesting prices

> Bravo Milos, Randy et al! This discussion is exactly what the "new
> technology" (internet) can do for us. For years we would offer programs at
> conferences, write journal articles, but nothing approached the
> of this forum for discussion.
> As an observer of this "scene" for a whole bunch of years, it is my
> that for the most part we are dealing with people of good will on both
> of the question. The shrinking of the "educational film" business over the
> past 10 years showsa that the distributors have a real (and sobering)
> point--they cannot live on home video prices in the library market. And
> libraries have a terrible time justifying $300 for a video for a home
> collection.
> Do I have a solution? No, but I am delighted with the propect of civil
> discourse on the subject! And one area I think we have a chance of
> is that of the availability of straightforward bibliographic information.
> Happy Holidays to everybody,
> Sally Mason-Robinson