Re: [Videolib] video browsing collection: LOC or "some other system"?

From: Steffen, James M <>
Date: Wed Aug 12 2009 - 13:10:36 PDT

Gary and Scott both raise excellent points in terms of the mission of an academic video collection. Gary, I'm especially glad that you brought up the need for us to "preserve the cultural record." This is a key point. Over the long term, academic libraries may be the ONLY place where people can find certain video titles, especially videos from overseas. Blockbuster and Netflix certainly aren't going to preserve the cultural record for us.

At Emory we have a closed-stack video collection, but we recently expanded overnight (actually, 2 day) DVD circulation to students on a select number of DVD titles. No VHS tapes or other formats are eligible. The overnight-OK DVDS have a different item type and a different circulation/fine structure: "DVD-LEND" rather than "DVD." This way the correct circulation period is given automatically. Students can also search the OPAC specifically for DVDs that can be taken home by limiting to the DVD-LEND item type. However, the DVDs are housed together and have the same call number system, so it's easy to take the item off lending as circumstances warrant--i.e., a DVD is booked by a faculty member or requested for course reserves.

Our criteria for designating DVDs as "DVD-LEND" were:

1) Playable on US equipment--NTSC Region 1 or 0 only.
2) Inexpensive--mostly home video titles, not educational/PPR titles.
3) Easily replaced--not O.P., rare or otherwise difficult to obtain.
4) Not on reserve or frequently booked by instructors.

In the case of #4, as the budget permits we do buy 2nd DVD-LEND copies of a limited number of films that get heavily used. For example, I automatically ordered two copies of WALL-E under the (correct) assumption that faculty would be putting it on reserve for courses. Only one of the two copies circulates overnight to students in those cases.

We do get the occasional lost or damaged item, but in general we haven't had as many problems as I initially feared. This system required considerable planning and demands regular staff oversight, but I feel that we've been able to increase access while still adhering to the core academic mission of the video collection. I've found it to be worth the effort.


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: 1
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 13:36:47 -0500
From: Scott Spicer <>
Subject: Re: [Videolib] video browsing collection: LOC or "some other
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
I have been thinking about your earlier response (I need a life as well), and believe you make a number of strong points, Gary.  First, we are also first and foremost committed to teach and learning, then
research, and finally recreation.   In fact, the primary rationale for
my appointment was to assist the campus community in having greater awareness, curriculum integration, and discovery of non-print media in resource and production form to enhance learning.  As for the open- stacks question, my new-age, philosophy is that learning does not always take place in formal learning environments and that our role as media sages should extend past the classroom to encourage students to better appreciate the media they consume in whatever form.  I don't think we should judge all recreational viewing as non-learning and frivolous, especially if we position ourselves to partner with faculty to offer supplemental/integrated programming in media literacy (I just started a new thread, I know it!).
That said, there are a few differences with respect to context (warning technical logistical stuff ahead skip to third paragraph).  I failed to mention that many of our most expensive and widely used educational titles are in a locked cabinet behind the desk (with a notice on the OPAC record).  We are incredibly sensitive to the needs of faculty, and in fact pull their items 4 days (a kind of blackout
period) in advance for delivery or hold.  We are not the centralized repository for rare or worn items, that would be our archives which have similar use restrictions.  We purchase replacements or try to resurface damaged items quickly, but again we have not witnessed more wear on curricular titles as a result of our open-stacks policy, and feature films titles are inexpensive as you mentioned.  We also have tattle tape affixed to the actual DVD (beneath a non-pealable dvd
plastic) and on the case.
I also should mention that my metric for success is not at all circulation, I just found the increase to be a positive bonus. I am interested in how audio/visual media is used in classes, how it impacts learning, and how well we meet user needs.  Developing metrics to better assess our impact in these domains should be our collective
goal.   Two years ago, we were a learning resources center, with a
focus on collections, closed stacks, and a floor of viewing/listening stations.  This beautiful, historical space was so dead you could hear crickets.  Today, in part to a redesign and less restrictive practices, it's an incredibly popular, lively, energetic center with all kinds of interaction taking place.  We still have a lot of work to do, but I believe we are on the right path.
Now if you'll excuse me I've got a few flowers to disperse.  Kind of ironic isn't it?
Scott Spicer
Media Outreach and Learning Spaces Librarian Coordinated Educational Services University of Minnesota Libraries
233 Walter Library 612.626.0629
Message: 3
Date: Wed, 12 Aug 2009 08:18:31 -0700
Subject: Re: [Videolib] video browsing collection: LOC or "some other
Content-Type: text/plain;charset=utf-8
Well...I was thinking about the issue of open vs closed collections last
nite (get a life, Gary)and it occurred to me that a the decision to go one
way or another has a great deal to do with a number of critical factors:
the nature of the institution and its clients; the nature/size of the
collection; the collection budget; and--most important--the short and long
term mission of the collection.  Such a decision must also take into
consideration evolving content markets and access trends.
My fairly steadfast "anti-open" position stems from the fact that Berkeley
has a very large and very diverse collection:  a mix of tape and DVDs; a
mix of fiction and non-fiction films; a mix of inexpensive home video and
costly indie stuff, commonly found titles and rarities.  The collection
serves multiple functions and missions (and this is a key factor):  first
and foremost, as a collection supporting specific curricular needs; as an
interdisciplinary research collection; and, only lastly, as a general
entertainment and extracurricular viewing resource.
Our policy of not circulating materials to students (for screening outside
of MRC)and our closed stacks are the thing students dislike most about
us...they bitch endlessly about it, and I'm vaguely sympathetic. These
complaints have to be balanced with the benefits of preserving and making
available materials which are often central to teaching...materials which
increasingly have a sneaky way of becoming "archival" over time due to the
vagaries of the distribution market.  Believe me, the ire of a faculty
person who is unable to instantly score a title needed for class screening
far outweighs the ire of a student who wants the same or others titles for
recreational viewing.
I'm pleased to hear that shrinkage isn't an issue for you,
must have a stand-up campus population.  In my experience, it's even
difficult to get faculty to bring stuff back on time...I can't imagine the
complete havoc wreaked in a world in which students had a direct whack at
the collection.
One has to wonder, also:  in an age when recreational access to popular
video titles is ubiquitous and cheap, shouldn't the long-term preservation
and curricular support mission of academic video collections take
precedent over other uses?  And shouldn't the organization and access
policies of collections support these goals?
Gary Handman
This e-mail message (including any attachments) is for the sole use of
the intended recipient(s) and may contain confidential and privileged
information.  If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution
or copying of this message (including any attachments) is strictly
If you have received this message in error, please contact
the sender by reply e-mail message and destroy all copies of the
original message (including attachments).
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 Wed Aug 12 13:14:15 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Oct 20 2009 - 15:17:07 PDT