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Managing Sources

From interlibrary loan requests and dealing with challenges to marketing the library's collection, librarians spend a lot of time managing audio and video sources.

Interlibrary Loan

ALA's RUSA Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States Explanatory Supplement (2016) states, "supplying libraries are encouraged to lend audiovisual material, microformats, serials, and other categories of material that have traditionally been non-circulating."

The history of interlibrary loan of audiovisual materials is interesting and continues to evolve.

Read Interlibrary Loan of Audiovisual Materials: Breaking the Taboo by Avery Hicks.

Intellectual Freedom

A twenty-something is sitting on a couch near the entrance to the library. She's listening to rap music containing profane language that can even be heard even through her earphones.

A fifty-something man is sitting in the computer lab watching an R rated movie. Sexually explicit scenes can be seen from across the room.

A couple of middle school students are playing a violent video game.

A mother is complaining that the audiobook her daughter checked out is filled with profanity.

Library users should have unrestricted access to library resources. However, audio and video materials provide unique challenges for librarians. Although it's important to adhere to national guidelines related to intellectual freedom, library policies and procedures must be in place to ensure that all library users have a positive experience in the library.

Read Freedom to View Document from the American Library Association.
Read Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials from the American Library Association.

Censorship, Challenges, and Reconsideration

Intellectual freedom is defined by the American Library Association as "the freedom to express one's beliefs or ideas through any mode of communication and the right of unrestricted access to all information and ideas regardless of the medium of communication used".

Since libraries were introduced, intellectual freedom and censorship have been a concern. Read the ALA Freedom to View Statement. This statement is often incorporated into the Collection Development policy along with the ALA Library Bill of Rights. Also, read Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials.

Is Exclusion, Censorship?

Librarians who do not embrace nontraditional forms of information are demonstrating a form of censorship. Rather than choosing not to include a particular title, they are excluding an entire format.

Why have you chosen to include or exclude audiobooks, videos, music, or videogames?

Organizations Concerned with Censorship

Many organizations fight censorship. Explore the following organizations and websites. Do you agree with their stands on intellectual freedom? Why or why not? What's your personal stand on censorship?

read!Try It!
Read the Music and Film/Video, Schools, and Video Game section of the National Coalition Against Censorship.
Think about the implications for libraries.

Media Challenges On the Rise

When people think about censorship, books come to mind. However, audiobooks, music, videos, and video games all face challenges.

Read Lesense, Teri S. The next battleground: audiobooks and censorship. Random House. Available through IUPUI.

Dealing with Challenges - Guidelines and Resources

Many organizations have posted guidelines and handbooks related to intellectual freedom on their websites. These materials can be very helpful in learning more about the topic and design your own center policies and guidelines. Explore the following resources:

read!Try It!
Go to the American Library Association's Intellectual Freedom page. Go to ALA's Challenges to Library Materials page. Explore their resources. Think about how they apply to audio and video sources.

Go to the Banned Book Week website.

Reconsideration Policies and Procedures

Libraries are sometimes faced with challenges to the collection materials. For example, a parent might object to the violence in a video game or DVD. Or, a local church group may request that music CDs be removed from the collection. Regardless of how the librarian feels about the individual items being challenged, it's important that the library policy be followed closely. A good policy with clear procedures along with specific attachments such as the Freedom to View Statement is essential. Sometimes a simple conversation with a teacher, parent, or community member will resolve the concern. Many patrons aren't aware of the library's policy or haven't taken the time to view or listen to the materials. In more complicated cases, it's a good idea to contact the state ALA affiliate for assistance. Most states have volunteers who will provide information and support.

Whether it's a book, audio, or video, the procedure should be the same. It’s important that the reconsideration policy and procedure for print materials be reviewed for use with nonprint materials. Both the policy and the form may need to be updated.

Collection Development Policy.A section of this policy should focus on dealing with challenged materials. This statement should reference the Library Bill of Rights, Freedom to Read, and Freedom to View Statements. It should also outline the procedures for reconsideration.

Reconsideration Procedures. A set of procedures should be followed in all cases. All materials related to the case should be kept on file. A standing committee should be available to hear cases. Generally, the complainant completes a form that is reviewed by this committee. The decision of the committee is then communicated by letter to the complainant. Appeals can be made by requesting a hearing by the Board.

Reconsideration Form. The form should be flexible enough to be used with all library materials. Forms often include statements such as "have you read the work" or "cite specific pages". These could be adapted. For example, have you read, listened to, or viewed, the entire work? Or, cite specific pages or segments. You may also need to modify passages that refer to "literary critics" or other literature oriented statements.

Explore examples of challenged materials policies and forms from the ALA's Challenged Books page. Pick one to evaluate. Does it do a good job of addressing issues that would be important if an audio or video were challenged?

Controversy and Censorship

Many movies have caused controversy. "Family-Edited" films are the newest censorship and copyright controversy. Some organizations such as ClearPlay are creating edited versions of feature films for rental or sale. Many directors and producers are upset that the profanity, violence, and sex from their films are being cut to create "G" rated versions of their films. Is this a copyright issue, censorship issue, or both? Where do you stand?

Promote Intellectual Freedom

One way to fight censorship is through education. Many of the Intellectual Freedom manuals contain sections on promotion. For example, each September Freedom to Read is celebrated with Banned Book week. Extend the activities to audio and video materials. Try some of the following activities:

Video and Audio Checkout

Some libraries require children and teens and/or parents to complete permission slips to check out audio, video, or video game items. Does your local school or public libraries have this requirement? Some examples are found below. Do you think this is necessary? Why or why not?

Go to Permission to View Film / Video (PDF) from ReadWriteThink for examples of a permission slip.


Some schools and libraries have policies related to video viewing. For example, a school may require parental permission to view a movie containing anything but a "G" rating. Some schools send home permission slips that only need to be returned if permission is denied.

When video viewing is a part of the lesson tied to standards, alternative learning experiences must be designed for students who do not participate in the activity. For example, students might read a book and write a summary.

When designing a permission slip, consider including information about how the audio or video contributes to the learning environment. Ideas can be found below:

read!Try It!
Watch a historical fiction movie. Do you think it would be appropriate for middle school or high school students? Why or why not? What standards might it address? Why would a teacher choose to use a video rather than other resources to teach this content? If you were designing a permission form to send to parents, what information would you provide about the content of the film as well as the content of the curriculum?

Housing and Circulating


How are your library's audio and video programs made accessible to your users? Where are they located, how are they stored, and are any restrictions made for their use?

Housing the Collection

Once your materials have been processed, you need to consider access. Make the materials accessible while weighing issues such as durability and security. The media collection should be placed in a prominent area where it can be seen from the front door to encourage browsing and easy access. Both users and staff must be able to access material easily. As you select shelving, keep in mind that you should provide adequate space for five


The placement of media has always been a controversy. It generally comes down to whether or not to intershelve books with audio, video, and other nonprint items.

A dynamic collection should be easily browsed and retrieved by users. Reasons for intershelving include providing all subject materials together saving time in only looking in one area for a single topic. It also eliminates the need for "special" areas. On the other hand, the size of objects can be a problem with intershelving and some people prefer browsing by media. For example, someone might come looking for a video to watch or an audiobook to play in the car. It often comes down to the history of your library. Is there a compelling reason to change from the practice currently being used?

Some libraries integrate their nonfiction audiobook and video titles with their print collection. Fiction videos are then housed together or by genre such as musical, comedy, and action/adventure.


If theft is a problem, use a dummy or empty container. Store the actual item in a separate jacket at circulation desk. Ask yourself the following questions:

Circulating the Collection

Before circulating items, you need to review your procedures for handling audio and video items.

Consider the following questions:

Once the collection is in place, it's time to think about maintenance, preservation, and de-selection.

read!Try It!
Read Hill, Nanci Milone (Jan/Feb 2015). Putting the customer back in customer service. Public Libraries, 54(1), 24-28. Available through IUPUI.
Notice the emphasis that is placed on innovative customer services practices. Think about how these apply to audio and video collections.

Preserving the Collection

Preservation has become an important consideration in maintaining effective technology-rich collections. Films, audiotapes, and videotapes produced more than a few years ago are already showing signs of wear. Many old films and television programs are lost forever because people weren't aware of the importance of preservation. While digital technology won't experience the same problems as film and tape technology, other preservation issues exist. For example when a website goes down, is the information lost forever? Without standards for digital archiving older documents may be exist, but they may not be able to be retrieved. Could you open an old VisiCalc spreadsheet created on an old TRS80 computer? Probably not.

Whether you're concerned about developing an archival collection or just want to maintain your current holding, explore the following links pages to learn more about this important area of media librarianship.

If you're specifically interested in learning about preservation, please take the Preservation class.

Read Enis, Matt (June 2016). Please rewind. Library Journal, 45-47. Available through IUPUI.

Owens, Trevor (September 26, 2012). Yes, the Library of Congress have video games: an interview with David Gibson. The Signal.

Riismandel, Paul (January 2015). The Video Preservation Conundrum. Streaming Media Magazine, 12. Available through IUPUI.

Maintaining the Collection

Maintaining a vital audio and video collection requires ongoing attention.

CD and DVD Issues

If you circulate lots of DVDs, you might consider a professional level video cleaning machine. Generally, CDs and DVDs are very durable. Handle discs by their edge and center hole only. Clean them with a soft, clean, lint free cloth. Water or disc cleaner can also be used. Wipe out from the center to the edge.

Weeding the Collection

Deselecting audio and video materials is an important part of collection development.

The skills used to weed a book collection are similar to a media collection. However keep in mind that media collections often require special equipment. When the equipment is no longer available, it's difficult to justify keeping the media.

General Weeding Materials

Marketing Audio and Video Materials

Awareness is a key issue for libraries. In a PewResearchCenter survey, 62% of respondents were aware that their public library carried digital audiobooks (Rainee, 2016). However, in another study 79% of adults did not have "much awareness" of Khan Academy video learning materials (Horrigan, 2016).

Marketing is an important element of audio and video collection management.

Activities are often tied to using materials more effectively. For example, you can advertise your collect with posters, brochures, and good signage. Simple things like well-labeled shelves, colored icons for each media type, and shelf label recommendation such as "science fiction lovers must see" can promote the collection. Also, be sure that users clearly understand the checkout procedure and how to use the item.

Provide instructions on new technologies detailing operation of equipment or handling of materials. Bulletin boards and poster with generic messages about caring for DVDs are also useful in promoting the idea of audio and video use.

The library's website is the key to digital audio and video use. However, it's important to provide signs, handouts, and other materials that direct users to the website.

Read Ford, Deborah B. (November 2015). Get those audiobooks moving. School Library Journal, 20. Available through IUPUI.

Marketing the Collection

Promote your video collection by placing some items face-out so the video/audio jackets can be seen. Create shelf labels highlighting audio or video selections such as "if you liked... you've love..."

Also consider a bulletin board or display to highlight genres and attract attention. You might even set up a preview station to highlight a genre. Imagine a "how-to" instructional video display featuring your favorite titles along with an exercise mat, plant potting tools, or cooking supplies. How about a Native American center with audio and video along with a native rug, pot, books, and other materials? Consider a "jazz" area featuring music along with the book Bud, Not Buddy and the Ken Burns's Jazz DVD and CD series. Also remember holidays and specific topics of interest. Many centers rotate displays each month.

Some movies such as X-Men are based on popular comic books. You can create an fun display with costumes, videos, and comic books. Be sure to include drawing books. You can make other connections between books and movies. For example, display all the science fiction books and their matching movies such as The Lord of the Rings. The same can be done with children's books such as The Night of the Twister.

Some movies such as The FugitiveThe Day of the Jackal, and The Bourne series are remade and updated. Some patrons may want to watch the original and remake side by side. This would make a fun display.

Incorporate movies into programs. Go to Movie Licensing USA for ideas.

Integrated Marketing

Remember to incorporate audio and video materials into the regular library promotion plan. In other words when you organize Banned Book week activities, be sure to integrate audio and videos. Add media to your "new book" lists. When making a subject area guide be sure to incorporate a variety of media. If you're creating a pathfinder web page, be sure to incorporate sites with audio and video features.

Consider creating video, audiobook, video game, or music clubs along side your book clubs.

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Go to the Guys Listen: Videos. Use them for inspiration for promoting audio and video materials in the library.

Newsletters, websites, and public service announcements are three great ways to get the message out.

Add a section to your website highlighting audio and video materials. For instance, examine New Books & Movies from the University of New Hampshire.

Format Marketing

Many centers focus on promotion of specific formats such as the DVD movie or audiobook collection. For example, you might design a series of activities for National Audiobook Month in June. The Audio Publishers Association promotes this campaign.

Join a national Audio Book Club. Every other week, you get the beginning of an audio book to try. Listen first, decide if you like it. You can purchase the entire book online using the link in each day's email.

Think about ways to promote a particular genre such as the documentary. Go to Top Documentary Films for lots of resources and film ideas.

Donations and Grants

Besides marketing your program's services, you might also seek out donations and grants.

Funding is an increasing concern. Some people go to the community to request assistance with particular sections of the collection.

Look for donations of expensive items such as DVD series and abridged audiobooks. Once someone has watched a long series, they may not be interested in keeping it. Remind people that these types of donations are tax-deductible. For instance, The Big Bang Theory and Doctor Who television series aren't available on many of the popular streaming services, but they are available on DVD. Ask for a donation.



“Collection evaluation is the process of systematically gathering data and using it to learn about the quality or value of your collection. This data can come from your catalog and circulation records, interlibrary loan requests, expert recommendations, or comparisons to other libraries. You do not need special software to do an evaluation, just some time and clear definitions of your goals.” (Kohn, 2015, xiii)

Karen Kohn notes that "an evaluation can tell you about whether your library collections is of sufficient size, quality, or usefulness… your patron’s stories and impressions can complement the numerical data by demonstrating the impact of the library on individuals” (Kohn, 2015, 8).

Generally, collection evaluation methods are either collection-centered or user-centered. A collection-centered focus examines the audio and video collection itself to determine whether it contains adequate sources to serve the library population. A user-centered evaluation focuses on whether the library has what the users want.

A number of methods can be used for collection evaluation. These are the same approaches used with other areas of the library collection. Benchmarking or usage statistics are useful when weeding the collection or reporting on library use. List-checking and citation analysis help determine how well the collection supports the library program.

Evaluating Planning

Kohn (2015, 24) suggests the following questions before beginning a collection evaluation project.

Return on Investment (ROI)

Subscription-based collections can be expensive. It's important to consider the Return on Investment (ROI).

Read Jones, Mary Ann (2015). Putting Your Patron in the Driver’s Seat: Assessing
the Value of On-Demand Streaming Video. Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship, 27(4),
268-269, Available through IUPUI.

As audio, video, and other technologies become a larger part of the collection, evaluation becomes more important. Revisions may need to be made in the collection development policy, selection practices, or center management to reflect changing needs. For example, at what point will a majority of your library users prefer streaming to DVDs? Or, what types of materials will support changing state standards? What grade would you give your library?

Collection evaluation can be focused on the collection or the clients. Explore the following three areas:

Collection Mapping

Collection mapping helps librarians review the strengths and weaknesses of the entire collection through a graphical representation. Used mainly in school libraries for print collection, maps can also be made of specific collections such as the video or audio collection. The idea is to look at the quality, quantity, and condition of the collection. It can also be compared to state and national collection standards.

If you look critically you may also be able to identify bias in your selection practices. For example, if your public library music collection is full of country music but the hip hop section is clearly the most used, you may have some personal bias.

The library collection can be divided into three segments: basic collection serving a variety of needs, general emphasis collections to support courses of instruction, and specific emphasis areas to support units of instruction. Consider new purchases in emphasis areas. For example, the curriculum standards might place an emphasis on a particular physical science area. Do you have audio and video materials available to address these standards?

After getting to know your collection, you can develop a plan to enhance weak areas of the collection and promote strong areas. For example, you might find that the state reading standards focus on the need for fluency in reading. You might increase the number of audiobooks for the primary grades to support this standard.

Circulation Statistics

Most libraries collect statistics about center use and particularly circulation.When considering circulation statistics, it’s important to think about how items are being used. In other words, when a book is checked out it is normally read by one person. Or possibly two if a parent reads to a child. Videos are often viewed by an entire family, group, or class. A person may listen to a music CD a dozen times before returning it.

Be careful when drawing conclusions from circulation statistics. Once an interesting statistic is identified, it's important to look at the data carefully. When looking at circulation statistics, librarians often underestimate the importance of their audio and video collections. Consider ways to incorporate data other than traditional circulation into collection use data.

User Survey

Before making changes in the program, you need to know your audience. What are the needs and interests of your users? How are they evolving? What patterns can be seen in circulation statistics and requests? Consider where audio and video fit into the overall scope of your collection.

Consider a patron survey. Use the following questions to get started developing your questionnaire.


Kohn, Karen C. (2015). Collection Evaluation in Academic Libraries: A Practical Guide for Librarians. Rowman & Littlefield.

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