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Libraries and DVDs

Old 04-08-05, 02:36 PM
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Libraries and DVDs

Well, I give up trying to find an article for this online. Saw the news story on the local station the other day, can't remember whether it was Fox news or what, but did write down the name of the commisioner for when I looked it up later.

Apparently commissioner Rhonda Storm is trying to get the rentals of movies, and videos that are not educational in general, out of the libraries in a Florida county. I appologize for not having more details, but figured I would be able to find something online about it. Silly me :/

She basically states that libraries are supposed to be about education, and TV and watching it is not educational, adding a "no offense" at the end.

She states this removing DVDs and movies would be a great way to save money for the libraries.

What do you guys think of this? Should they take DVDs and other forms of media out of the library if they are not just educational?
Old 04-08-05, 02:46 PM
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Isn't everything educational in some way? This sounds like the beginning of censorship disguised as something else.
Old 04-08-05, 02:47 PM
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It could be argued that virtually nothing is educational. It could just as well be argued that virtually everything is educational.
I agree, it would 'save money.' Then again, my library is full of hardback books, with cover prices from 12.95-29.95 or more. I've recently been checking out lots of graphic novels, which are 6.95-19.95. Not necessarily 'educational', and certainly more expensive than a 10-15 $ dvd.

I don't think a public library should be solely for 'educational' stuff, and if they were, I would take the 'everything's educational' argument. That's why we have schools, I thought.

If she's concerned about saving money, I'm sure there's lots of other places to do it. Of course if she saves money, would that money directly come back to the people who gave it to her? Doubtful.

I have no problem with libraries having non-educational books, dvds, books on tape, magazines, newspapers, etc. If you want people to come there, you have to give them a reason to, it can't be just like school.
Old 04-08-05, 02:52 PM
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We had the same battle here and the librarians eventually prevailed. The argument that only educational material should be available in libraries doesn't hold up unless all of the contemporary novels are also removed (that would never happen).

Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to checkout a popular title like Spderman on dvd because of long waiting lists.

The good news is that it's usually easy to check out PBS programs and other documentaries from the library.
Old 04-08-05, 03:01 PM
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My local library doesn't carry DVDs or videotapes, as far as I know, but it does have lots of books on tape and cd. But you can log on to the website and request a title, and they'll call you or send you an email when it's in. They will pull stuff from other county libraries as well, which is quite cool.
Having it available is enough, they don't guarantee they'll have enough for everyone--new release books are like that as well.
Old 04-08-05, 03:06 PM
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Hey, do away with the DVDs and they can afford to buy all those Harlequin classics.
Old 04-08-05, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by dtcarson
My local library doesn't carry DVDs or videotapes, as far as I know, but it does have lots of books on tape and cd. But you can log on to the website and request a title, and they'll call you or send you an email when it's in. They will pull stuff from other county libraries as well, which is quite cool.
Having it available is enough, they don't guarantee they'll have enough for everyone--new release books are like that as well.
I'm not sure my library does either. I haven't checked of course, but when I worked with the library a couple years ago, I don't recall them ever having DVDs for rental or any purpose for that matter. Of course, my library is relatively small, as I live in a town of just 10,000, but it's still a nice library for what it is.
Old 04-08-05, 04:10 PM
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I think it is a bad idea to remove DVDs and 'non-educational' material since this is away of bringing people into libraries. I'm not sure but I'm going to guess that libraries would like to encourage as many people to come in as they can. I think they should make it more well know that alot of libraries carry some of the latest DVDs. Then once the people are there tie them up and force them to read a book.
Old 04-08-05, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by marty888
Hey, do away with the DVDs and they can afford to buy all those Harlequin classics.
Harlequin classics are the r0x0rz!!
Old 04-08-05, 04:49 PM
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It'd suck if my local library system did this as I'd have no place to dump all my old DVDs
Old 04-08-05, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by JCFantasy23
Well, I give up trying to find an article for this online. Saw the news story on the local station the other day, can't remember whether it was Fox news or what, but did write down the name of the commisioner for when I looked it up later.

Apparently commissioner Rhonda Storm is trying to get the rentals of movies, and videos that are not educational in general, out of the libraries in a Florida county. I appologize for not having more details, but figured I would be able to find something online about it. Silly me :/

She basically states that libraries are supposed to be about education, and TV and watching it is not educational, adding a "no offense" at the end.

She states this removing DVDs and movies would be a great way to save money for the libraries.

What do you guys think of this? Should they take DVDs and other forms of media out of the library if they are not just educational?
Here are the specifics:

http://www.tampatribune.com/FloridaM...BBLBHC87E.html

Most things in moderation but she has a point. If the county is funding these DVDs that means the taxpayers of that county are paying for it. So yeah, I don't think that much money should go into pop culture TV DVDs like Friends - Year 3 and DVDs that people could tape right off their TV sets.

My library has a terrific video collection. Old films, hard to find titles, foreign films and some old TV shows and some cable shows. So they don't have Friends or Smallville and the like but they will have Sex in the City, The Prisoner, The Avengers to name a few. They also have a darn fine Criterion collection with recent additions including Thieves' Highway, Cassavetes Box Set, My Own Private Idaho, Fanny and Alexander, Casque d'or, Short Cuts, Stray Dogs and The Battle of Algiers.

Last edited by ctyankee; 04-08-05 at 05:39 PM.
Old 04-09-05, 06:53 PM
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Egads, you found it online. There goes my searching abilities She did mention it differently on television in the live interview, but the article gives more information/coverage.

Either way, I'm not against DVDs for entertainment purposes at the library either. It should be fun as well as educational...the library may need a little more incentive to keep people coming back, or breathe more life into the establishment.
Old 04-09-05, 09:04 PM
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No library can acquire everything, or even close to everything, so the choices are left up to the librarians. There are myriad factors that will influence a librarian's choices, from cost to requests from members to personal preferences to availability.

You can argue that it's not a public library's role to provide entertainment for the members, but you won't find support for that argument anywhere in law, precendent, or practice. Libraries are full of fiction and music, as well as reference material.

It's also not the library's role to evaluate content using some arbitrary scale of "quality." After all, what if a student wants to write a paper on the role of "Friends" as a reflection of, versus an influence on, American culture? A legitimate topic for, say, a sociology major, and why shouldn't that student be able to get her research materials from the library?

One very important role of libraries is to help assure availability of media to people who can't otherwise afford it. That role must be applied across the board, to providing Internet access, books, periodicals, or electronic media.

Here in Philadelphia, the battle is for funding to keep neighborhood branch libraries open evenings and Saturdays, staffed by actual librarians. These Floridians should be happy they have enough cash to be worrying about what DVDs to buy.

RichC
Old 04-09-05, 09:16 PM
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I wonder if blockbuster or another like rental company is somehow lining Rhonda Storm pockets. I'm sure getting libraries to no longer carry movies would increase profits for rental companies.
Old 04-09-05, 09:16 PM
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My library just got a couple copies of 'Planet Simpson' on their featured new release shelf; it looks like a very deep, scholarly review of The Simpsons as a macrocosm of American society.
So even 'entertainment' can be 'scholarly'.
Regardless, I think her argument is sorely lacking, because like has been said, to only have 'educational' materials would drastically reduce the inventory, and demotivate people from coming in.
Old 04-09-05, 09:18 PM
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Good idea, lady. Why limit the eradication to a particular media type? Purge ALL forms of fiction: get rid of ALL fictional children's books (e.g., Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, and Charlotte's Web), ALL fictional adult books (e.g. Shakespeare, Fahrenheit 451, and Da Vinci Code), ALL poetry, ALL music CD's, ALL CD's containing audio versions of fictional stories, and ALL DVDs containing fictional stories.

Otherwise, if the public doesn't agree with that, then find out how much that kook earns per year in salary, fire her and use that extra money to serve the public with the cultural (fictional) material that enhances human understanding and enjoyment that she objected to.
Old 04-09-05, 09:41 PM
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Public libraries should include any subject matter. They are for people who normally can't afford to buy them. I wish more libraries had a large selection.
Old 04-10-05, 12:38 AM
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Don't our tax dollars pay for libraries? Then shouldn't they contain what we want? If getting rid of something like DVD collections at a library means that less people stop going to libraries, then I don't think it should be put on those people to continue to contribute their money for something that doesn't do anything for them.

However, I think that libraries should only contain important historical and contemporary films. You could honestly find 1 reason about every single movie ever made as to why a library should carry it, but in reality there is no funding available for that. If it weren't for my library, I wouldn't have discovered Kurosawa until a few months ago. About 4-5 years back, I was doing research for a high school paper, remember passing the library's shelf of about 50 VHS tapes, and striking up a curiousity for a movie called Yojimbo. I checked it out, loved it, and over the next few weeks rented the 3 or 4 other Kurosawa tapes they had. Otherwise, it probably wouldn't have been until recently that I started collecting Criterions that I would've expressed an interest in his films.

I don't think a library should carry whatever the public wants, but they should be providing important historical and contemporary films, just as they do with books.
Old 04-10-05, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by fliggil
I don't think a library should carry whatever the public wants, but they should be providing important historical and contemporary films, just as they do with books.
Who gets to decide what's "important?" You? Me? Someone with a political, religious, or moral agenda?

The history of great art is the chronicle of guys making stuff they hoped people would buy, so they could eat. The assessment of its "importance" was left for succeeding generations.

IMO, a system whereby librarians choose what they think enhances the library's collection, influenced significantly by what users of the collection actually ask for, is a pretty good one.

RichC
Old 04-10-05, 10:11 AM
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Maybe they could send around a survey to newspaper critics, asking for say their 100 most important titles. I mean where do you draw the line? Does it get to the point where people start requesting a movie and say it's important to them so the library should special request it?
Old 04-10-05, 10:42 AM
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On the grounds of whether or not these DVDs are educational, shouldn't Storm at least think of the educational benefits of having any library of movies. There is such a thing as media literacy, or cultural analysis that is possible by watching just about anything on TV or film, or maybe I just wasted my entire undergraduate education writing on television and movies, and watching a great deal of stuff in the library?
Old 04-10-05, 11:56 AM
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I am lucky my library has DVDs, it has saved me so much money.

At my library you can put a hold on a DVD that lasts ten days when it comes in. You check the DVD out for seven days and late fees are only $0.10 a day. There are also rental DVDs of the new releases. They cost $1 for a week with late fees for $0.10 a day. You cannot put these DVDs on hold.

When my library orders a DVD months before it comes out, they entered the DVD in the system and you can put holds on it then. They usually order two DVDs for smaller releases or four DVDs for larger releases. Then if there are a huge number of holds placed before the DVDs are released they order more. They also order four to ten rental DVDs for the larger releases.

For example in my holds section I currently have nine DVDs recently released or are going to be released in the next few months.
Birth (I am hold #4 of 15), The Chorus (#3/9), House of Flying Daggers (#4/34), In Good Company (#12/16), Kinsey (#5/20), Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (#5/42), and The Sea Inside (#6/10) are all currently On Order. Hotel Rwanda (#6/55) is Newly Acquired and Being Julia (#3/34) is Checked Out.

As related to this thread in particular, I know my library has a lot of educational DVDs plus they have really stepped up the number of children's DVDs.

Also related, the head librarian has said in numerous interviews the rental DVDs, the late fees for DVDs, and the sale of used DVDs have more than covered the cost of the entire DVD collection. I will look into finding an article about it so it could be brought to the commissioner's attention.
Old 04-10-05, 03:17 PM
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All of the video tapes and DVDs in our tiny town library are donations; we don't buy any, so cost is not a problem. We have hundreds of videos and several dozen DVDs (and I plan to donate some more classics, like Casablanca and The Adventures of Robin Hood). Most of the collection is older stuff; our library director doesn't want to compete with the local video store merchant; this is a big deal in a small town (population ~750).

One of our concerns was that DVDs are pretty fragile compared to video tapes, but so far they have been holding up pretty well. And since they cost us nothing it doesn't really matter that much if one gets damaged and we have to throw it out.

BTW, we just built and opened our new library a year ago. Best tiny town library anywhere! (But I am biased, since I am president of the Library District Board of Trustees. )
Old 04-10-05, 05:24 PM
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Thanks to the VHS tapes at my local library, I have been able to partake in the movie clubs over at the DVD Aficionado forums, watching titles such as Nosferatu the Vampyre, Three Colors: Blue, Three Colors: White, Chinatown, and Rainman.

I still have to watch Three Colors: Red, Network, The Shining, Unforgiven, and Shadow of the Vampire, as well as other titles I haven't ordered yet.

Unfortunately, our library doesn't currently have DVDs, although I have heard that they will be moving to them soon.

I have also been able to order many old classics, such as Marx Brothers films, Buster Keaton, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, etc.

To students of film or filmmakers, obviously films would be educational, and even to ordinary people, many of the great films can be more than just popcorn entertainment. Of course, until libraries stop carrying Star Wars books, Danielle Steele titles, and every other piece of fiction, then films are just as much a part of the collection as any fiction...
Old 04-10-05, 06:59 PM
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wow, this is local for me. Though I tend to go to the college library more and the county north of where this happened.

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