Guide to Video Acquisitions in Libraries: Issues and Best Practices

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the author

Have you suddenly found yourself responsible for acquiring video for your institution? Being an effective video acquisitions librarian requires special knowledge of the intricacies of the field. Video collections are just different than their traditional print-based counterparts:

  • Physical formats— analog and digital, VHS tapes and DVDs, streaming and downloadable files. . . what do you need and how do you get it?
  • Vendors and suppliers—how do you find them? what do they have?
  • Licensing and copyright—how can materials be used? are there limits on use?

Patron demand has driven the growth of many video collections in all kinds of libraries. This guide provides basic best practices supported by review and selection tools, a glossary of video formats, and an annotated short list of vendors.

Purpose and Scope

Chapter 1: Video Acquisitions
The Unique Nature of Video Acquisitions
Differing Philosophies
The Acquisitions Process

Chapter 2: Physical Formats
Rapidly Changing Marketplace for New Technologies
Playback Equipment in the Library and the Home Market
Marketplace Controls
Impact of Circulation and Support Policies

Chapter 3: Production and Vendor Issues
Prevalence of the Small Independents
Adhering to Approval Plans or Contracts
Adoption Rates of New Formats and Technologies


  • Pricing Schemes: Educational vs. Home Market
  • Serial Replacement Issues
  • Copy Quality Differences
  • Out-of-Print Video

Chapter 4: Licensing and Copyright Issues
Public Performance Rights
Reformatting Options
Licensing for Distributing Digital Video
Fair Use and Copyright Law

Chapter 5: Streaming and Downloadable Video
Limited Number of Vendors
Mass-Market Titles vs. Educational Titles
Compatibility Issues and Proprietary Formats
Pricing Schemes
Converting Physical Formats to Digital Files
Purchase vs. Leasing: Needs of Different Libraries

Chapter 6: Video Acquisitions into the Future
User-Created Content





A. Review and Selection Tools
B. Glossary of Video Formats
C. Annotated Short List of Video Vendors



Mary S. Laskowski

Mary S. Laskowski is Head of Information Processing and Management at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 1999 to 2006 she was Media and Reserve Librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and from 1998 to 1999 she was Instructional Library Media Specialist for the Valders Area School District. She received a Master's of Library and Information Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1998 and a Bachelor of Arts, English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1997.