Hi Jared,
I worked at Donnell Media Center, The New York Public Library, for 15 years. 
Our open vhs/dvd access collection went from being closed shelf to open shelf, 
sometime in the 90's, and our fears were never realized to the extent that we 
had feared. 3 big differences, however, between what we did at a public library 
and yours, an academic library that appears to be open to the public as 
well. The vhs/discs were on shelf, organized into broad categories that 
certainly aided both patrons' serendipitous finds and pages shelving (and 
clerks and librarians, we all did it together) but 1.) they were in kwikcase 
cases http://www.gresscoltd.com/kwikcase/demo/, and 2.) they were barcoded and 
3.) they had a what we called targets (big and square shaped; I could find out 
for you if interested). Very similar to tattle tape. 
It was a bold move, but 10 years ago, we took the vhs out of their kwikcases, 
and had them sitting naked on the shelves. Our concerns of theft were not 
realized. Yes, a couple went missing, but nothing to set our hair ablaze. Now 
mind you, these were all titles in print. We were ever mindful of OP and rare 
titles. Also, vhs had already fallen out of favor as a medium. That helped as 
We had a PPR reserve collection of vhs and dvds (they may still, though I know 
it was heavily and painfully weeded, another story altogether)  that went 
woefully unused, due to its inaccessibility and the hoops through which we made 
patrons jump (primarily needing to make arrangements to borrow it in advance; 
we went from 7 days to 3, but it was still 3 too many). You cannot say enough 
about the browsing effect and instant accessibility. It benefits both the 
patron and the collection (and by extension, the director of that/those 
collections). I think keeping it (closed access collections) inaccessible hurt 
circulation stats and ate up a lot of real estate. Now, frankly, I think 
putting certain titles on the open shelves BUT thrown (maybe not even all) in 
lucite cases might be advisable, but for the most part, if the items can 
theoretically be replaced (the real definition of a library v. archive), then 
it should be done. But safeguards do need to
 be taken, and are only prudent. Otherwise, you will look irresponsible, and it 
will be you, not the administration, who will be blamed ultimately. 
So, to sum up. A case for every dvd, and only for certain vhs. (Or just keep 
those behind the desk, or for on-site consultation only. That's reasonable, 
too, as we all know. OPs should always be protected, and those not available on 

Elizabeth McMahon
Formerly of Donnell Media Center
The New York Public Library

> From: "Seay, Jared Alexander" <se...@cofc.edu>
>To: videolib@lists.berkeley.edu 
>Sent: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 11:18 AM
>Subject: [Videolib] Plea from a Media Collection Decimation Zone
>Media Collections Colleagues,
>I send this out at least in part as a plea for support – moral support at the 
>very least.  Last week from out of the blue my library director announced that 
>we were to move our media collection (about 4000 VHS videos and DVDs) from the 
>media room (with closed stacks) downstairs to open stacks around the 
>circulation desk.  Although some of the titles known to be heavily used by 
>faculty for teaching are to be put “behind the desk” in a limited teaching 
>collection,  most of the titles are to be placed in an “outer ring” of 
>shelving around the circulation desk open to patrons and the public.  
>Though we had been told that we would be investigating and planning for such a 
>potential move sometime in the new year, this directive came without warning 
>and certainly without any significant planning or forethought.   The titles 
>are to be put on open shelving.  There are no locked cases involved and none 
>of the titles are tattle-taped.   In the media room patrons had to check-out 
>titles even if they wanted to view them in the media room.  We could track 
>circulation statistics as well as maintain a high level of security.  As of 
>the beginning of 2012, no such control will be in place.  In short, the entire 
>collection will be unsecure and exposed to whomever deans pull a title off the 
>shelf - to view or otherwise.
>I have expressed my deep concerns, but the answer I have gotten back is that 
>we “will put things out on the shelves and monitor the shrinkage.”  Not the 
>most effective way to manage the collection I have noted. Seems akin to 
>putting pamphlets on a display that says “take one.”  Seems to me this gets to 
>the basic issue of what a library media collection is for, and how should it 
>be used and managed?  
>For the record, my concerns have been echoed by other collages including 
>several higher up my chain of command.  But, top level administration is 
>un-swayed by such arguments, though I intend to continue to make them even as 
>I am compelled to move the collection.  I suspect there are backroom politics 
>involving space issues ownership (of the media room) that I will not go into 
>here.  My biggest concern, apart from the sheer suddenness of it all, is the 
>future security and integrity of the collection.  To go from a closed room 
>(with check-out viewing only) to completely open stacks with no security 
>control virtually overnight is not a good thing in my opinion.  I fear that my 
>circulating collection is about to be decimated and devalued at the very 
>I suppose that in my shock at what I have been asked to do, I need some input 
>from those on this list.  My big question to my media colleagues on this list 
>is this:  Does anyone out there have their media collection on completely open 
>stacks with no security?    I’ll take any input (advisory or consoling) I can 
>Thanks in advance and happy holidays.
>Jared Alexander Seay                               
>Reference Librarian 
>Head, Media Collections 
>Addlestone Library 
>College of Charleston
>Charleston SC 29424
>Main Office:           843-953-1428       blogs.cofc.edu/seayj/
>Media Collections: 843-953-8040       blogs.cofc.edu/media collections
>Addlestone Report:    blogs.cofc.edu/addlestonereport
>Reference Services:  blogs.cofc.edu/refblog
>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 
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 

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