August 16th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Something the whole Web 2.0 revolution introduced was the ability for websites to include user-reviews right along side product/company information. Yelp.com is my favorite example, listing a restaurant's address and details, and reviews from diners about their experience. This, perhaps more than most things, changed the nature of how people use the internet (and how companies on the internet use people).
So anyway, this past weekend was one of my library's drop-off days for our annual Friends of the Library book sale. While going through some of the donations on Saturday, I found the movies below - the previous owner added their own review right to the cover.
I don't know if this was for personal use, or staff reviews from a video store, or someone writing reviews for a family member to read, but I love the idea. It's the same as posting reviews on Amazon, Yelp, or in the library catalog, but just in the physical world.
Every once in awhile I'll request a book from another library, or buy an old library book at a used book sale, and stuck inside the front cover will be a review from a newspaper or magazine. I would love it if my library could do this, but the volume of new items just makes this practice unsustainable. Not only would it be helpful for patrons, it would also remind me why I bought the book in the first place.
Of course, since I do most of my selection via RSS feeds, instead of by reading physical journals, I guess it wouldn't work anyway. Sigh.
Tags: donation, donations, dvd, dvds, libraries, Library, movie, movies, patron, patrons, public, review, reviews, user, users
August 11th, 2011 Brian Herzog
On my drive to work this morning, I heard a story on the radio on how people are upset about the holes in Netflix's collection.
I've been hearing this same thing from friends, that more and more often lately the movies they want are just not available through Netflix - either as a DVD or streaming. The story attributes this to the changing contracts concerning entertainment producers and online delivery, and a related story also covered broadband issues.
The main thrust of the story seemed to be just informational - sort of, "this is happening, get used to it."
Sadly, they didn't mention public libraries as a resource for DVDs - we have lots of movies and shows not legally available to borrow elsewhere. I left a quick comment on their story:
As a public librarian, I always encourage people to check out their local library's DVD collection. If they don't have what you want, ask your librarian to order it!
I tried not to be glib, but happily, the holes in a library's collection are usually* due just to selection oversights (of which I am guilty) - which is easily remedied by being responsive patron requests.
At least, for now. Copyright battles are raging, as media companies try every tact they can to protect their revenue streams - including changing existing laws, which could affect first sale doctrine and fair use rights.
I don't have any direct links to these issues, but I would encourage everyone to pay attention to the issues the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is tracking, especially those dealing with Intellectual Property. When a copyright-related bill is making its way through Congress, the EFF details what effects it will have, and what action can be taken to protect access to information.
Another great copyright resource to follow is the Copyfight blog - it's not strictly library issues, but it is all about copyright.
Funny how a short story on the radio can have an impact on your entire day.
*In addition to the movies we missed purchasing, another source of holes in the collection is always theft.
March 26th, 2011 Brian Herzog
I like this question on many levels - but mainly just because I just to use the phrase Library Win.
One afternoon, a patron called to request a movie titled, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. She said she had already requested it through the library, but she got the wrong one - the one she wanted featured Glenn Ford.
It took a little bit of doing on IMDB, but eventually we identified the right one from all the others. And oddly, IMBD had it listed as The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse, instead of spelling out the word "four."
I switched back to the library catalog to locate it, searching on the title with both four/4, and also searching just for Glenn Ford. But from what I could tell, it was nowhere in the consortium.
Next, for librarians in Massachusetts, is to search the statewide Virtual Catalog. I started this search for the title The 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Of the five results for that search, one matched both the production studio and original release date - so even though it didn't list the actors, I was fairly confident it was the right one. I requested it for the patron, and told her that since it is coming from outside our consortium, it might take a week or two before it arrives. She had hoped to get is sooner, but was happy that we could find it at all.
About two hours later, this same patron called back. She said she had been talking to her daughter, who said that version was available on Netflix - so could I please cancel the library request we just placed, and she'll use Netflix because that will probably be faster. No problem, and I canceled her request.
The next morning I had a voicemail from this patron. She said she talked to her daughter again, who said the movie was on long wait in Netflix, so it might take months. In that case, waiting a couple weeks for the library sounded pretty good, so she asked me to rerequest this movie for her.
It always makes me happy when libraries can provide better service than businesses - and really, this is the kind of situation where there will almost always be a Library Win. Businesses tend to cater to the new and the sensational, whereas libraries also retain easy access to older items, classics, and items that may only turn over once a year (or less).
This is another danger of HarperCollins' self-destructing ebook plan - it would effectively eliminate this long-tail service (or at least, put a timer on it that is controlled by the publishers, rather than the needs of our communities).
I constantly hear about the death of libraries, yet it is a movie with an apocalyptic allusion that we can deliver better than those supposedly bringing about our demise.
Tags: dvd, ill, interlibrary loan, libraries, Library, library win, long wait, netflix, public, Reference Question, request
January 13th, 2011 Brian Herzog
Over the last few years, we've noticed a rise in DVD thefts at my library. It seemed to happen in waves - once in awhile, we'd suddenly notice ten or so empty DVD cases on the shelf.
In general we're pretty relaxed at my library, and try to err on the side of good customer service. However, as the empty cases built up, staff started investigating ways to curtail the thefts.
But the kicker was that, when we ran the numbers, all of the security options we looked at (cameras, dummy cameras, security cases, a DVD jukebox, keeping DVDs behind the desk, etc.) were actually more expensive than just buying replacement DVDs. At least, this was true for the rate of theft we were seeing.
It seems counter-intuitive, and a little aggravating, but this is the route we took. The Circ staff was especially frustrated by the apparent "do nothing" approach, but we reviewed the numbers multiple times over the years, and replacement was always the cheapest option. Well, that combined stepped-up monitoring by staff.
And then something happened that no one expected: a stack of DVDs with a note attached ended up in our bookbox. Apparently, whoever had been stealing them got a conscience (or else, as one popular theory holds, his mother found them*). And then, a week later, a second stack of disks showed up.
We had been saving the empty cases all along, so re-adding them to the collection was easy. Hopefully, this trend will continue, and we'll end up with all of our DVDs back - just a couple years late. And we haven't noticed many missing lately, so the increased staff monitoring also seems to be working.
*Most of the DVDs that were stolen were Adam Sandler/Will Ferrell/American Pie-type movies, which implies the culprit(s) is probably high school boys.
July 27th, 2010 Brian Herzog
One problem with busy days like yesterday is that I am focused just on what's in front of me, and miss out on what's happening elsewhere. After work yesterday I was catching up on news and blogs, and found a few stories I thought were significant and wanted to share (you know, besides that whole leak thing):
An odd conflux of issues yesterday.
June 17th, 2010 Brian Herzog
We had sort of an odd situation in my library a little while ago - the story is a bit long, so please bear with me:
As circ staff were checking returned items back in, they found a DVD case with no disc in it (not unusual). They called and left a message for the patron to check their DVD player and please return the missing disc.
The patron called back after we were closed, left a message that she returned the wrong case, and asked we call her at work the next day.
What? Wrong case?
When our Head of Circulation called her the next day, the work number the patron gave was for a video reproduction company(!). When she finally spoke with the patron, the patron told her that she had the disc and the library's case, and the one she returned (accidentally) was a color photocopy she'd made of the DVD jacket (which it was, and confirmed in that the barcode and other stickers were no longer stickers).
This set off debate amongst the department heads in my library. It seems, clearly, that this patron worked at a video reproduction company that was checking out DVDs from the library and not just ripping the DVDs, but creating reproductions of the cases too - to who knows what end. Even if they're not mass reproducing them for sale, this activity is still illegal.
But, we have no actual proof of DVD copying, just speculation (maybe she just liked the DVD jacket?), and it'd be a major step to accuse a patron of this or to notify the police (or FBI?). So after some debate, we decided the library's role is to:
- make information and materials available to the public, and
- make the public aware of the copyright limitations of library materials
Our logic is that we can't police patrons and force them to follow intellectual property laws, but it is our responsibility to make sure they are informed of those laws.
To do that, we wanted to make a small handout or bookmark that informed patrons of copyright restrictions, but I wasn't sure exactly where to begin. I had bookmarked a Columbus Dispatch article entitled "Copying library CD? You just broke the law" awhile ago because of something I'd heard of going on at another library* and that article mentioned Carrie Russell, a copyright specialist for the American Library Association.
I found her ALA contact information, sent her an email explaining our situation and asking if she had concise wording we could use for a short copyright handout. Her response was hands-down the quickest (next day!) and most helpful reply I've ever gotten from someone at the ALA:
I usually suggest that the library suspend the patron's borrowing privileges when it is clear they are infringing.
You can use language from the CFR to craft a letter. This is the language that libraries should use when lending software, but you can use it for this situation too.
Notice: Warning of Copyright Restrictions The copyright law of the United States (title 17, United States Code) governs the reproduction, distribution, adaptation, public performance, and public display of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in law, nonprofit libraries are authorized to lend, lease, or rent copies of computer programs to patrons on a nonprofit basis and for nonprofit purposes. Any person who makes an unauthorized copy or adaptation of the computer program, or redistributes the loan copy, or publicly performs or displays the computer program, except as permitted by title 17 of the United States Code, may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to fulfill a loan request if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the request would lead to violation of the copyright law. (37 C.F.R. 201.24)
Hope this helps.
Some of us liked the idea of suspending the patron's borrowing privileges (at least temporarily), but we decided against that as a first step. From the wording Carrie sent, I created the following copyright notice brochure (changing references to "computer programs" to be inclusive of all library material). These bookmarks are kept at the Circ Desk and given to those patrons we suspect need the information most.
Feel free to edit and use this for your own library, and let me know if you can recommend any improvements. I was going for "fewer words = more likely to be read" but didn't quite get there.
*Another long story, for another time. In the meantime, here's a Video Pirates clip
that's worth watching.
Tags: burn, burnning, cd, cds, copy, copying, copyright, dvd, dvds, intellectual freedom, intellectual property, law, legal, libraries, Library, notice, public, rip, ripping, scan, scanning, warning