Saturday, May 26, 2007

Audiovisual and Public Libraries

While I wasn't expecting to find books with encouraging titles like Audiovisual Bonanza: A History of the Public Library's Alternative Media Niche or, even better, Audiovisual Departments, Public Libraries and the 21st Century (though I certainly would love to find books like that, especially if they included a comprehensive annotated bibliography), I am a little surprised by the utter paucity of titles available expressively concentrated on audiovisual materials in public libraries. Of course, it's now dawning on me that my search criteria has been entirely wrong...and that what I really need to be searching under is "Nonprint Media Services" or something similar.

In any case, I created my own independent study course through the GSLIS program I'm currently wading through at Dominican University in hopes of immersing myself in the history of and possible futures for audiovisual materials/departments in public libraries. While Dominican offers a healthy smattering of courses covering librarian fundamentals, its course catalog ventures little further. No course I've taken, no book or article assigned, has discussed or even mentioned, however fleetingly, matters pertaining to the audiovisual. Nor, for that matter, do many GSLIS schools. I spent a few hours roughly a month ago hungrily browsing through the ALA's list of Accredited Master's Programs in Library and Information Studies in hopes of finding a professor I could contact or a syllabus I could use as a template. In the end, I came across only one course that bluntly offered what I was looking for. The GSLIS program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offered a class titled, simply enough, Audio Visual Services In Libraries which was, I'm sad to say, discovered in their Historical Course Catalog, which "includes courses no longer taught as well as all courses numbered under the system used through summer 2004." That dog don't hunt. The description for this now defunct class read:

Designed to acquaint students with the nonprint media responsibilities of libraries; includes the evaluation, selection, and acquisition of software and hardware, the utilization of media in various types of libraries (by individuals and groups, in formal and informal programs), and the administration of integrated media collections (films, recorded sound, video, and exhibits).

Nothing too sexy, but what I wouldn't give to have seen the reading list!

My own initial questions regarding audiovisual services in public libraries, as flimsy as they may be, are asked in hopes of finding a more promising path and ultimately gleaning something far more substantial:

-What's the history of audiovisual materials in public libraries?

-What public libraries are known for having great audiovisual departments/collections? What makes them great? How did they that way?

There are other questions, equally inadequate, but it's a start nonetheless.

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