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Open Letter to American Libraries

I did send this via email to AL, but I figure I might as well include it here:

Dear Editor,

Thank you very much for the feature articles on DVDs and videocassettes as
collection assets in libraries. All of the articles and columns dealing
with the subject were well-written and thoughtful. In fact, my major
complaint is that the November issue should have been larger in order to
deal with quetions/practices of video and DVD collections beyond the
public-services angles of all of the pieces.

Off the top of my head, such issues include:
* the acquisition and technical processing of DVDs and videotapes
* archival and preservation aspects, including migration from analog
cassettes to digital formats
* legal issues, especially with DVDs (which are theoretically covered
under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act)
* use in library programming
* post-MLS programs in archival moving images (such as the programs at

Thank you, though, for whetting my appetite.


(blah blah blah fishcakes, as they say at a certain television criticism site ...)

If the letter sounds obsequious, it's because I was overcompensating: I was actually rather irritated about how much potential content was left out. I realize that it would not be an easy thing to scrap, say, the news or letters section or add 5-10 unscheduled pages, but it seems like the articles just scratched the surface (or to truly belabour the metaphor, never got below the subcutaneous layer).

I suppose that when I saw the cover, I was expecting a 'big picture' overview ... the picture wasn't as big as I thought it could or should be. A shame, that. However, it's probably just the frustrated film preservationist within me.


I see your point--but American Libraries is the magazine of the association/profession, not an in-depth journal. There's a pretty firm limit of 2,000 words for articles, and there's a real issue of overall page limits (when you print 64,000+ copies, each page costs real money).

I think the areas you mention all deserve discussion--but probably in some other journal or e-medium where length is less of an issue. (I don't know what the medium would be; the two feature authors might have some ideas.) AL really can't be the home for that kind of in-depth treatment of a particular topic.

You are right in that my expectations are probably too high. But what irked me wasn't what you call the lack of depth; I consider it a lack of breadth to the subject. None of the articles even mentioned the issues I wrote in my letter. To be far-too-honest and altogether unfair, the treatment of the theme struck me as being full of hype (or at the least, unalloyed optimism), and a little bit of "Okay, how do we deal with this?" would have been a nice touch (IMO).

Perhaps a sidebar of print and electronic resources for dealing with moving image collections would have mollified me. Or, I could just be cranky at having to read 10 years of Library Journal from the 1950s ...