According to a survey by the Online Computer Library Center, more people get DVDs from libraries than from Netflix, and more than Blockbuster and Redbox combined…. These days, borrowing movies from the library is a smart way to save money.
Well, that’s true enough. But the LA Times is a little behind the times if they’re just noticing this trend now. My librarian friends in public libraries, and especially the library clerks I know, working in the trenches, will tell you that DVDs have been their biggest business for years. The demand for DVDs in libraries skyrocketed and it keeps every library staff on the run, trying to keep up.
On the one hand, it’s almost not worth commentary. Libraries have long collected more than just books — audiobooks, VHS tapes, readalong books for kids, LPs, cassettes, CDs. So now it’s DVDs, and they’re more popular than the others put together, but it’s still just format.
On the other hand, there’s piracy. I’m sorry, but when a library patron comes in, rents a dozen DVDs, and then returns them the next day and promptly takes out a dozen more — we all know they’re not watching them, back to back, for the ensuing 24 hours straight. They’re copying them, plain and simple. Possibly just for their own personal use, which is still illegal, but less unethical than the other possibility, which is that they’re selling copies of these movies somewhere. No way to say for sure which it is, of course.
Regardless, the next time you’re in the library, try to give the ladies and gentlemen behind the audiovisual/DVD counter (or just your librarian or library clerk, if you’re at a smaller place) a sympathetic smile. They didn’t plan to take over from Blockbuster, and they probably aren’t entirely jazzed about having to do so, but they’re just trying to give the public what they want and need. Which is all libraries ever try to do, no matter how unappreciated they might sometimes be.