Clarke, Business Librarian
Located in the
basement of Carrier Library, the media center, operated by Media Resources,
is a treasure trove of material
available to the JMU community. The media center is home to
most of the non-print resources owned by Carrier Library.
Here you can find videos, DVDs, interactive CDs, 16mm films,
slides, some audio tapes, and other non-print sources. This
article is a summary of a discussion with Jeff Clark, director of
Media Resources. Jeff discusses the challenges of a non-print collection, unique resources available, other services provided to the JMU community,
what's new and the one of the
best kept secrets
in the center.
In the media center of Media Resources, students, faculty and
staff can check out movies and watch them on equipment housed in the center, at home, or in classrooms with the
necessary equipment. With books, use is straight-forward, but collecting non-print materials can be more complicated. Format questions arise--e.g., do we buy on videotape or DVD?
If we go with DVD are we limiting how many people can use a program due to a lack of players in classrooms? What if the
format is replaced with better technology? How much money or space should still be allocated to a filmstrip collection, if any? When should we "retire" an almost defunct collection format
altogether? All these types of issues are a regular concern for Jeff and the Media Resources staff.
Resolving format matters is tricky. Traditionally, media
resources centers are conservative in their embrace of new
formats for two reasons. First, a format can be replaced very quickly if something better comes along (pity those who
invested in BETA recorders). Second, is access.
Librarians don't worry much that our users won't be able to read our books. In media centers, if a commitment is made
to a successful new format like DVDs then a commitment must also be made to DVD players. Quality and preservation are also concerns. Some 16mm films are best viewed as films so as not to lose specific details of the work--unless their
availability on the market disappears, and a good enough quality format such as DVD can begin to replace films. Preservation issues are also different in this environment. Books can be repaired and many times, easily replaced. Videotape loses quality both upon repair and with repeated playbacks, and
replacement can be expensive or impractical.
While new technology always creates challenges, it also is
exciting to see where these formats can take library collections. One unique item in
the Media Resources collection that demonstrates the potential of a new format is
The Red Planet
Mars, an interactive DVD that provides a "tour" of Mars. This DVD takes
data from some 700 maps with computer enhanced features, including 3-D images. The program comes with a pair of 3-D glasses and is usable on either a home DVD video player or a DVD drive in a computer. Playing the disc through a computer adds interactivity with a web site designed for enhancing this DVD.
Two questions often asked about the media collection
-- why are the loan periods so short and the overdue fines so
stiff and why do so many video programs cost so much to buy or replace?
The answers are sometimes surprising to users. Many program items in the media
collection are heavily used for classes and individual
study, and unlike books, these resources are most often needed
specific dates. Loan periods are short to keep titles available to as many users as possible when they need
them and high overdue fines encourage cooperation. Special producers of educational programming, especially in
video, often charge much more than do the "home video" vendors that serve the public with feature films and "do-it-yourself" type videos.
Educational titles often average $100-200 each, and some vendors, such as those serving business
disciplines, often charge $500-600 for a half-hour program! No one wants to face the "sticker shock" of having to pay for a lost or damaged program with costs like these, so the staff
encourage in-center viewing on available equipment and short loan periods.
Jeff and his staff also face the challenge of copyright in
the non-print world. While most library users wouldn't consider
standing over a copy machine to copy a 200 page book, the ease of copying a VHS recording or a CD makes it inexpensive and fast to do. Further, while there is no one monitoring what happens at a library copy machine, the folks in media resources often
facilitate copying. This means they must be on their guard to ensure the copyright holders rights are not
violated while also trying to make sure that requester is not significantly inconvenienced.
The purview of Media Resources outside the media center
extends campus-wide to support the work of the faculty in
technology classrooms located all over JMU. These classrooms
give faculty many opportunities to use computers, video and
other formats in the classroom on a regular basis. Demand for
these classrooms on the west (or main) campus is high and
availability limited. To fill this gap, MR offers a portable equipment loan service in Spotswood Hall that
supplies notebook computers and data projectors, DVD and VCR players or other equipment to support teaching needs in many formats. Instruction on how to use the equipment is also available from the MR staff. In all the technology classrooms, technical staff work closely with Computing Support and others to make their features and use as consistent as possible across campus. For the first time this year, the
MR staff will be supporting similar technology classrooms located on the east
(CISAT) campus also.
Theft is always a concern in a facility open to the entire JMU
campus. In the MR center and the technology classrooms, losing one piece of equipment can set the center back hundreds and even thousands of dollars. This translates to funds being directed to
replacing items instead of new purchases. A sophisticated alarm system has been installed in the center
that detects motion when the center is closed, and alarms prevent removal of equipment from
viewing carrels when the center is open. The equipment in the east campus technology classrooms is also
secured. Faculty using these classrooms work with staff to use best practices to keep the rooms open only to responsible users.
One of the best kept secrets in the media center is the
screening room. This room can be scheduled by faculty to
show a video or film to a class, but is also available for student use when the room is empty. A good use of this room is to practice Power Point® presentations, or to view and discuss class assigned programs more conveniently than doing so at a small viewing carrel.
E-mail comments and questions to:
Media Resources has been redesigning its website to be more
useful and better integrated with the Library's new web
presence. Also coming this semester will be an online index to
the sound effects CDs owned by both Media Resources and the Music Library. This index will be available on the web and easy to use for students, faculty and staff looking to add effects to their multimedia projects.
If you have questions about Media Resources, the technology
classrooms, or about the services the staff can provide, please contact
Jeff Clark or visit the Media Resources web
Copyright © 2000.
All rights reserved.