Sunday, March 18, 2007

So Long, Library Media Project

For the last ten years, I've been on the project board of the Library Media Project, the successor to the MacArthur Foundation Library Video Project, which some of you long-time public librarians may remember. For those of you who don't remember, here's a brief video history of the project, in which you can see a mustachioed, prescription eyeglass wearing, not completely bald version of yours truly shot at my former employer, The Library of Michigan.

Sadly, the project is coming to an end. The interest in video as a separately curated collection in public libraries seems to have waned, and money is tight in many areas. Mary Kirby and Sue Stephenson, who run the project from a small office in Chicago, have done a valiant job but there simply isn't enough money left in the till from the group's funders and from sales to keep the doors open.

So LMP is having, in effect, a going out of business sale. There are episodes of Nova, American Playhouse, American Short Stories, Civilization, and other classic PBS series, plus some amazing independent films like Atomic Cafe, Best Boy, and The Day After Trinity, all available at ridiculously low prices. There are also copies of the cinema classics collection, curated by Roger Ebert, which include healthy discounts for libraries on purchases of 5 copies or more.

Many of the videos in the original MacArthur grant will not be available on DVD and are no longer being produced in VHS, so this may be your last chance to add some sterling documentaries and special interest video to your collection.

When I was running the Fairfield County Public Library in the 1980s, the MacArthur Project was the only way I could get affordable non-fiction videos with public performance rights into the collection. Seeing the project shut down now, nearly 20 years later, is painful, but I hope you won't miss this opportunity to add something a little more substantial than the latest "let's blow something up" movie to your collection!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating post! It could not have been expressed better.