New program makes library film collection more accessible to students

From seasons of M*A*S*H to Goldie Hawn’s Overboard, students can now browse for videos in the Odegaard Undergraduate Library Media Center on their own instead of making specific requests each time they want to rent a film.

The center has moved 2,000 of the library’s 30,000 DVDs to public racks in the Media Center, where visitors can peruse videos as they would in a traditional rental store.

With circulation, the number of films on the shelves at any given time does not represent the total relocated collection. However, the videos that are available represent major producers, such as MGM Pictures and Paramount Pictures.

“People have been asking for it for a while,” said student library employee Cecilia Jezek, “It’s finally something we ... got funding for.”

While the change means busy times for Media Center employees, who are adjusting to the new system, and increased traffic from the public, most workers are excited about the project.

“As it works out, I think it’s going to be a really positive thing,” Jezek said. “It gives people more access to the collection.”

The center is working to increase the number of videos on display, but special locking cases to secure each video from theft and machines to unlock the devices when the films are checked out are all costs that have to be considered.

With increased access comes the issue of theft, and the library will be closely monitoring the collection’s statistics in the coming months.

“If it becomes an issue, we may have to re-evaluate the collection, but I hope we won’t have to do that,” said John Vallier, head of distributed media services.

The project was one of eight proposals to receive funding from the Library Excellence Award this year. A committee conducted the competitive selection process that distributed a collective $25,000 of private funds.

“The excellence awards are for innovative projects and services,” said Cyndi Asmus, director for advancement of the UW Libraries. “The committee has to look through all the applications and make the difficult choices of the most important things to fund in a given year.”

Students using the new system certainly seem to find the service helpful, even though the funding can’t make everything available for perusing.

“I think it’s a lot more convenient, although I’m not sure the selection is as good as when you’re searching online,” said senior Michael Donovan as he browsed the new racks of films.

The Media Center has noticed increased use of its materials since the development and looks forward to future expansion of the program.

“It actually increases the amount of people that come here,” said student library employee Edward Seid. “There’s no longer a barrier that separates the patrons from the DVDs.”

Reach Arts Editor Lexie Krell at


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