Apr. 1st, 2007

xiphias: (Default)
Libraries have a limited amount of money and space, and have to figure out what, exactly, their mission is in order to figure out how to do it.

One question that public libraries have to ask themselves is if they are places for people to get information and education, or entertainment. And, of course, the answer is "both", but, when you have a limited budget, you have to prioritize. So you end up with questions like, "How much money should we spend on DVDs of popular Hollywood releases?"

The library one town north of us, in Wakefield, has an interesting compromise answer. DVDs which they feel will be classics, or have useful educational value, or are otherwise more useful for the "information and education" mission are dealt with normally as normal circulating media.

However, the Wakefield Friends of the Library set up seed money for a pure entertainment collection. And those are rental DVDs. One buck a week per DVD. And the money gets plowed back into the fund to buy more pure entertainment DVDs. The library has them as part of their collection, catalogs them, and has a space for them, but the "rental/entertainment" budget is separate from the rest of the library's budget.

Over time, if it becomes clear that some of those movies are actually classics with genuine cultural value -- whatever that means to whomever is making the decision -- the movies could be moved from the rental collection into the general collection.

Like all compromises, it's not perfect -- I think that a Platonic ideal free public lending library would be able to lend all materials for free, rather than having some genres of some media be rented -- but it's not bad. It works pretty well.

Which is why Lis and I just watched Hoodwinked, a movie that we'd kind of intended to maybe see in the theaters, but never got around to. It's a (fairly badly) computer-animated movie about what REALLY happened in the Red Riding Hood story, with a frog doing Nick Charles from the Thin Man movies as the detective. (With Asta. As his stenographer.)

Well, it was definitely worth a dollar, anyway. I mean, I tend to rate movies, in my own head, on a scale from "worth first-run prices, including parking and popcorn" -- and very few movies rate that -- down to "I want my 89 minutes back, and I want someone to pay me for pain and suffering."

This movie was probably worth "second run/matinée". So "one dollar rental" was a bargain. Definitely worth it at that price.

And it wouldn't have really been worth it for the library to dip into their REAL budget for something like that, but, as they have a "rental cheesy entertainment DVD" budget, it was a good thing.

Sometime this week, I'll have to get around to watching "Kung Fu Hustle" and the Ang Lee "The Hulk". They may be good, they may be bad -- but they also will be only a dollar. For that price, I'll risk it.

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