Re: Public libraries and video collections (long)

Chris Lewis (
Fri, 10 Dec 1999 10:53:51 -0800 (PST)

I'll admit I had only been browsing the posts on this particular until this one
perked me up. It made me think of the CD collections in most public libraries.
Now even though I work in an academic library I use public libraries fairly
often and I sometimes wonder why so many public library music collections are
so lame.. They seem to have been selected with some bizarre approval plan that
favors way too much Frank Sinatra, Kenny Rogers, the Beatles and what seem
like random selections of classical music. Is it because of the Pink Floyd
one-way circulation syndrome? Whole categories of music such as reggae, zydeco,
afro-pop, hardcore, and even hip hop, get little more than token
representation. Where is the Indestructible Beat of Soweto? Where is the Link
Wray? Where is the Lee Perry? Where is the Bessie Smith? Not to mention the
Grandmaster Flashes, Tav Falcos, Ray Campis, Nick Drakes, and Nanci Griffiths
of the world.

Just wondering,

Chris Lewis
American U wrote:

> Ok I know this is going to sound self serving but isn't something besides
> Hollywood crap and $500 tapes on East TImor?
> What I have never understood about many public library collections is why
> they are so filled with popular crap. What percentage of the book budget of
> the library goes to Top Ten best sellers versus
> say serious non-fiction and novels ? I can not imagine that most libraries
> spend the bulk of their print budget on books by Turow and Sparks or diet
> books. Yet somehow the video budget get spent mostly on Disney or the
> latest
> blockbuster titles. I had always hoped the mission of public libraries
> would
> be to make available titles that are NOT readily available at the local
> Blockbuster store.
> This would presumably include foreign films, classic films, documentaries
> etc. I know that most people on this list DO try to collect these types of
> films but most branch libraries I see, rarely have much of this and what
> they do have is often poorly selected and junky (cheapie PD stuff).
> I know we have been over this issue before but I have seen very little
> change in the market.
> I often get calls from people desperately looking for one of our foreign or
> silent titles and since I know that outside of a major city it is not going
> to be in a store for rental, I suggest the library. they almost never find
> it there.
> Since there is now so much outsourcing going on, I expect the situation
> of
> "specialty" videos will only get worse in public library collections.
> The ever cynical
> Jessica Rosner
> kino