It’s autumn, and that means I have new funds to buy DVDs at the library. I look forward to this time, mainly because I no longer buy any DVDs for my personal collection. (Netflix has made that kind of redundant.) But at the library? I have a good chunk of change to devote to the collection each year, and that makes me happy. When I first came on board, the film collection was sort of just languishing there. They had money set aside for it, but no one was really guiding the collection. The result was a very fragmented array of films. Library staff would ask film professors what movies they wanted, and so the collection was like an overview of the various niche classes being taught at the university. I’m not saying that’s not important–it’s vital that at a small university library such as mine, we focus on supporting the curriculum. But at the same time, I also have strong feelings that such a support be given the proper setting. Students should be able to view the classics–have a variety of films to choose from to give context to the other films they’re watching in class. At least, that’s the general approach I’ve taken as I’ve been adding to the collection the past three years. The first year, I added the essentials in American cinema. The next, I went with foreign films. The next, I went on to flesh out some of the genres and other movies I’d missed. This year . . . I’m cleaning house.
We have something like 350 or more VHS tapes. 350. Yikes. I’ve been wanting to get rid of ’em since I got here, but I didn’t want to clean everything out until there was something to put in its place. Now that I’ve fleshed out the DVDs a bit, the VHS can start to go. Not that I’m just tossing them–I’m getting rid of the ones that haven’t checked out in years and years, but I’m replacing the ones I can that have checked out a fair bit, exchanging them for their DVD counterparts. It feels odd, replacing old materials with a format that’s already dated, but at least DVDs will play in Bluray players. (You have to realize that not many people out in rural Maine have made the switch to Bluray yet. Some of them haven’t even switched to DVD.)
Of course, there are some VHS that just don’t exist in DVD format yet, so . . . I’m going to have to hold on to some of them for a while longer, it seems. I’m certainly not going to toss them just because they’re in a dated format. Not yet, at least. But there comes a day when really old formats have to go. Such is life. We don’t have LPs or 8 Tracks or even any audio cassettes in the collection now. One day, the same will be true of VHS.