Re: [Videolib] Blu-ray acquisitions in Academic libraries

From: Steffen, James M <>
Date: Mon Aug 03 2009 - 08:42:40 PDT

Dear David:

I wouldn't purchase any Blu-ray discs unless your library and at least some classrooms on campus are ready to support them. Besides needing the actual Blu-ray players, users won't see any benefit unless at least some classrooms and/or viewing carrels have *high definition* projectors or displays: minimum 720 resolution, preferably 1080p. If you hook a Blu-ray player up to a standard TV or projector you'll only get standard 480 resolution, which is what you get on regular DVDs anyway.

At Emory we just started to acquire Blu-ray discs of some core titles that are often used for class screenings, and they look terrific. They definitely have a more film-like appearance, and you can even see something of the film's original grain structure. One of the reasons why I pushed for it initially is that it has become increasingly difficult to get 35mm nontheatrical prints for classroom screenings. (We rent 35mm prints for a limited number of courses.) The DVD format still looks fine, but standard def transfers often filter out the grain and apply edge enhancement to compensate for the massive video compression required. When you're projecting it on a large screen, such compression artifacts can get magnified. Blu-ray discs have up to six times the resolution of standard DVDs and use newer, more efficient codecs. Another benefit we found from upgrading to high-definition video display was that the image standard definition DVD playback is greatly improved too, thanks to an upconverting DVD player.

However, upgrading our library's Group Viewing Room for high definition video was expensive. (Our old projector was failing, so we had to do something.) It's not just a question of replacing one piece of equipment; most likely you'll have to have some wiring upgraded. It also took considerable coordination and input from Classroom Technologies. They've installed high definition projectors in a new classroom building, but the older classrooms still have only standard def display. Also, after consulting with Class Tech we put labels on the Blu-ray discs indicating that they won't play in standard DVD players.

A limited number of academic libraries/media centers besides us have begun to support Blu-ray (Yale's Film Study Center comes to mind), but I don't see it happening on a large scale for now because of the expense involved.

Lastly, most existing educational titles are filmed on standard definition video or use standard definition video transfers, so we won't be seeing them on Blu-ray. They wouldn't really benefit from the format, anyway. The DVD format is going to stick around for a while.


James M. Steffen, PhD
Film Studies and Media Librarian
Theater and Dance Subject Liaison
Marian K. Heilbrun Music and Media Library 
Emory University
540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta, GA 30322-2870
Phone: (404) 727-8107
FAX: (404) 727-2257
Message: 4
Date: Mon, 3 Aug 2009 09:35:53 -0400
From: David Nelson <>
Subject: [Videolib] Blu-ray acquisitions in Academic libraries
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"
 I would be very interested to know about policies with regard to acquiring
blu-ray videos. So far I have not acquired any blu-ray titles but I do get
occasional requests for the format. I can't see any particular reason for
acquiring titles in the format and I am interested in what other libraries
have chosen to do with regard to this format. Do people make note of
format-specific policies in their collection development policies?
David Nelson
David N. Nelson
South Asian Studies/Cinema Studies Librarian
5th Floor
Van Pelt Library
3420 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
VIDEOLIB is intended to encourage the broad and lively discussion of issues relating to the selection, evaluation, acquisition,bibliographic control, preservation, and use of current and evolving video formats in libraries and related institutions. It is hoped that the list will serve as an effective working tool for video librarians, as well as a channel of communication between libraries,educational institutions, and video producers and distributors.
Received on Mon Aug 3 08:43:37 2009

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