Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


More On DVDs In The Library

There's been a recent flurry of entertainment press coverage attempting to answer the question of why people aren't going to the movies anymore. There's no real consensus, just a host of reasons: movies kind of stink lately, movies are expensive, movies are competing for leisure time market share with video games, the Internet, and most importantly, a host of affordable & convenient alternative services such as TiVo, video on demand, and DVDs by mail services like Netflix.

Today's entry on the subject, courtesy of the NY Times Movie section, covers each of the reasons in some detail, but the experiences of Brian Goble should have particular resonance for libraries:

But what could well have the greatest impact on theater attendance is the growing interest in digital home entertainment centers, which deliver something much closer to a movie-style experience than conventional television sets.


Mr. Goble rarely watches video-on-demand ("The quality is poor," he said.) Instead he has an account with Netflix and orders his movies online. When the Nicholas Cage movie National Treasure was released last November, for instance, he added it to his Netflix list so he would be sent a copy when it came out on DVD.

If libraries are making multiple copies of popular DVDs available to their patrons (mine is, through a nifty Grab & Go program -- patrons are limited to two G&G DVDs per visit, the lending period is 3 days, and no holds are allowed. You see it at your branch, you grab it, and you go. Hence the name!) as soon as they're released, and if they're allowing patrons to put holds on slightly less popular DVDs and other items as soon as a record is available in their OPAC, and if they're providing this service for free, then aren't we providing a similar service to Netflix?

Let's see:

    Netflix has a queue, or holds list, just like a library.
    Netflix makes multiple copies of its items available, just like a library.
    Netflix allows users to place holds on items before they become available, just like a library.

The resemblances do end -- most libraries don't offer postage-paid returns for their items, and most libraries can't possibly offer the hundreds of copies of the most popular DVD titles that Netflix provides -- but shouldn't libraries be doing a better job of marketing the ways in which our services, which our patrons have already paid for with their tax dollars, resemble more expensive services?

Shouldn't we be doing more to make it easy for our users to manage their queues of desired materials from home?

Shouldn't we be doing more to enhance the depth & breadth of such a popular collection?

What are you doing at your library with DVDs? For more ideas, read Liz's excellent post on how libraries can use TV shows on DVD to reach patrons.


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