SELECT OR SATISFY?: THE VIDEO COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT DILEMMA



by Kim Lloyd
MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship, v.2 no.2, Fall 1994:110-118.

INTRODUCTION

The writing of media collection development policy, specifically a videotape policy, requires some considerations beyond the written policies for book selection. In fact, collection development policies for print material may not even be models that are relevant to videos. The reasons for this have to do with how the video item is used by patrons, cost per title, and technological considerations. These issues have been addressed succinctly by Hardy and Sessions who say, "Due to the fragility, technical complexity, and relatively high cost of nonprint media, additional care is needed in the selection process"(Hardy 1985, 83).

Patrons, specifically instructors in an academic library, often take a video into the classroom as the method of delivering instruction for that class session. Other than textbooks, books in the library collection often lend support to the curriculum, but are not the sole focus of instruction. Who would be more likely than the teaching faculty to know which videos should be in the collection for this instructional purpose?

Since instructional video title prices can vary widely, from $19.95 to over $400.00 per title, guessing at selection can result in costly mistakes. Since videos could be obsolete in a few years due to rapidly changing technology, it would seem to be more important to buy videos that can be assured of some immediate use.

A use study of materials acquired in the Illinois State University Library Media Resource Center seemed to be the best method of determining how collection development should proceed and a way to write a policy that truly reflects selection criteria.

REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Since 1985, the library literature has been filled with

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articles on how best to develop a video collection. Questions about which vendors to use, bibliographical organization, equipment management, loan periods, copyright considerations, and assessing user's needs appear along with advice from public, academic, school and special librarians. Perhaps no single issue though has received more attention than how to systematically perform collection development. Should videos be collected from a traditional process (e.g., writing a policy, reading reviews, examining the book itself) or should the purchase be more demand driven (let the user decide the makeup of the collection)?

"Perhaps the most important aspect of building a serious video collection is the development of a written video collection development policy, which should be part of the overall library collection development policy" (Mason 1992, 32). Looking at the SPEC Kit on "Audiovisual Policies in ARL Libraries" is helpful because it identifies issues common to representative academic video collections: collecting films that support curriculum and instruction, making guidelines for the purchase of popular or current films, and the consideration of price or funding available. The similarities cease when policies outline who has responsibility for selection and the steps involved before an item is purchased. For example, UC Berkeley and Stanford take purchase recommendations from teaching faculty, but final selection rests with the media selector. The University of Hawaii and Indiana University attempt to purchase all faculty requests. Reading reviews is a regular step before purchase at Northwestern, and previewing is mentioned only in The University of Hawaii policy.

Commentary on the critical issue of librarian versus faculty members as selectors is divided in the literature. Proponents for library personnel as selectors suggest that a committee of media librarian and subject specialists should make purchase decisions (Ellison 1987, 370) and that purchasing only by "transitory user demand" runs the risk of developing a collection that is not well planned and that "can contribute to the notion of the library media collection as an arcade"(Whichard)

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1985, 38). Reasoning that the faculty have a strong role in media selection, Hardy offers that "using a particular nonprint item may be an integral part of a course. Therefore the teaching faculty tend to be more directly involved in selecting nonprint materials than print materials"(Hardy 1985, 83). This idea is backed by a published survey of academic librarians that reported that "nearly all acquisitions are done by faculty order or request; few come from staff or students"(Havens 1987, 34).

THE STUDY

Media selection at Illinois State University has traditionally been a competitive process where faculty members in each department are sent letters twice a year inviting suggestions for purchase. Requests are submitted with justifications that provide potential number of faculty and student users, particular classes for which the item might be appropriate and ordering information. A committee of librarians then considers the requests and makes purchase decisions. Videos are also added to the collection with some discretionary funds of the media selector, and by subject librarians who have the capability of purchasing media from their allotted book funds. Money is also earmarked for rental of titles as an added service for faculty when a title is not in the collection and is not available through an interlibrary loan transaction.

A random sample of fifty videos acquired in the Illinois State University Media Resource Center in the spring of 1992 were tracked for use. Half of the videos were requested by teaching faculty members and the other half selected by librarians without a specific use for the video. A Macintosh software booking program (Alexandria) keeps track of the number of charges for a particular video. The dates of use for this study were August 1992 through April 1994. The videos not requested by teaching faculty were publicized so that known items would not have an advantage in use, other than a faculty members' predisposition to a familiar title. Publicity included a newsletter from the Media Resource Center with new title listings, a print catalog of all

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video titles sent to departmental offices which included lists of videos by subject, access through the library online public access catalog, and personal recommendations by the media selector.

RESULTS

In the booking program during the described time frame, the average number of uses was taken for the twenty-five requested videos and twenty-five selected videos. The average number of uses for teaching faculty requested videos was 4.08 and the average number of librarian selected titles was 2.03. Requested video titles are twice as likely to circulate as non-requested titles.

The video most often circulated was requested by a faculty member and used thirteen times in the nineteen month evaluation period. Three of the requested titles and seven of the selected titles were not used at all.

IMPLICATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS

Because the videos selected for purchase by teaching faculty receive twice the use of titles selected by librarians, Illinois State University will continue to encourage faculty input into the development of the Media Resource Center collection. The collecting will be driven by videos that have direct instructional applications and while the committee will try to fairly disperse the funds across academic departments, traditional attempts to balance the collection will not be made. Considering the limited shelflife of media materials and changing technologies, videos that will be useful in the classroom today are much more valuable to the library and its' users than a "balanced" collection that remains on the shelf in the Media Center.

Collection development in an area like media that encompasses all disciplines and has both popular and

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instructional applications can be challenging especially when limited funds, equipment maintenance and obsolescence are also factors. Each type of library must decide what the best video collection for its' patrons, and gathering as much input as possible, whether through the printed literature or from patrons themselves is the most efficient way to provide a used, useful collection.

REFERENCES

APPENDIX

LETTER TO FACULTY

To: Illinois State University Faculty

From: Kim Lloyd, Manager, Media Resource Center, Milner Library

Re: Requests for Media Materials

The Media Resource Center located on floor 6, Milner Library, contains non-print materials that support all areas of instruction at ISU. Services in the MRC include: facilities for listening and viewing in a variety of formats, film and videotape scheduling and delivery, reserves, and reference assistance.

The Media Resource Center Acquisitions Committee solicits requests for media materials to be purchased twice each year. The Committee will review requests in October and April to identify

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items to be purchased from the media materials budget. Items which may be requested for purchase include (but are not limited to): 16mm films, VHS videocassettes, audio tapes, compact discs, slide/tape programs, filmstrip/audio programs, overhead projection sets, videodiscs, and interactive video programs. You may submit additional requests any time during the year and they will be considered if funds are available.

To assist you in identifying needs which are appropriate for this support, some of the criteria the Committee uses in evaluating these requests are that the item(s): 1) could be used in more than one formal education program of the University, 2) will have multiple viewings and, 3) would not require spending an inordinately large portion of funds available for this purpose.

Enclosed is a copy of the Media Purchase Request Form. Feel free to make additional copies as needed. Submit requests directly to the Department Chair for approval and prioritization. Please note that requests for media equipment and film rentals should not be made on this form. All purchased materials will be housed in the Media Resource Center. You will be notified whether your request has been approved for funding and again when purchased items are available for use. If you have questions, please call me at 438-7452.

VIDEOS USED FOR STUDY

VIDEOS PURCHASED FROM FACULTY REQUESTS:
Climate factor
Textiles from source to consumer
The Hidden Army
Women in defense
Glamour girls of 1943
Great war
Seven wonders of the ancient world
Stand and deliver
Palestinian costumes and embroidery
Quest for fire
Origins of Mexican civilisation
Cities of the ancient Mayas

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Teaching the student with spina bifida
2nd grade science
3rd grade science
5th grade science
Health quarterly
Minimum wages
Curing the economy
Making government work
Total quality management
Total quality management-creating a culture of continuous improvement
Marbury v. Madison
McCulloch v. Maryland
The graduate

VIDEOS PURCHASED BY LIBRARIANS:
Crime and punishments
Campaign spending
National security
School prayer
Right to live
Immigration reform
Affirmative action
Page to stage
The future of media centers
Carmina burana
King Priam
The turn of the screw
Let's make music
John Jacob Niles
Schoo music
Sunny side of life
Public enemy
Dreams and songs
Appalachian journey
The land where the blues began
Cajun country
Jazz parades

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Marian Anderson
If you knew Sousa
Barnum's big top

Kim Lloyd is Media Librarian at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois.
Campus Box 8900
Illinois State University
Normal, IL 61790-8900 Kim@mhsgate.mlb.ilstu.edu
309.438.7452 (voice)
309.438.3676 (fax)

MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship
V2#2
Fall 1994
ISSN 1069-6792
October 1994

This article is copyright (C) 1994 by Kim Lloyd. All Rights Reserved. MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship is copyright (C) 1994 by Lori Widzinski. All commercial use requires permission.

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