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Libraries: a bigger source of DVDs than Netflix


Once upon a time, libraries were a place for books. A Netflix representative said just that -- "I think of libraries as places for books" -- but that, apparently, is now a minority perspective. 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.

Consumerist reports the survey's numbers: Every day, public libraries loan out 2.1 million DVDs, slightly more than Netflix's 2 million daily rentals.

Does this mean the end for libraries? Will DVDs crowd out books? Will readers abandon libraries' print offerings for filmed entertainment?

Probably not. Under other economic circumstances, the DVD rental figures might be taken as another herald of the death of print culture. But these days, borrowing movies from the library is a smart way to save money.

On her blog The Frugal Diva, Susan Kessler recently wrote, "I live in Los Angeles and the public libraries have provided me with reading material, books on CD, magazines, and fantastic DVDs including Louis Malle documentaries and 'The Simpsons Movie.'"

Librarians are smart to have stocked their shelves with DVDs in addition to books. As Kessler's comment -- and pile of loot, above -- attests, she picks up reading materials with her watching materials.

Which reminds me; I've got some "True Blood" DVDs the library is going to want back sometime soon.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Susan Kessler, the Frugal Diva, with bargain buys and library rentals. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

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The library exists to provide a broad range of material to the public. Libraries were loaning phonograph records shortly after those became available, making it possible for people to listen to many different types of music when they might not have been able to afford concert tickets or even the cost of a record. I recall when libraries would loan films; today some loan musical instruments and even tools. The library isn't now and has never been strictly about books but about information and culture. Think how much people save borrowing movies rather than paying for a seat in a theater.

So if I wanted to check out a Dario Argento horror movie, would I find it in the L.A. Public Library? I doubt it. I'll stick with Netflix.

To answer your question, phoenixandrew, they have a couple of Dario Argento films in the LA public library. . . as for those they don't have, that's what interlibrary loan is for!

You'd be surprised what the library has in stock. Their foreign section is superb, filled with Criterion DVD releases and many other obscure titles. I go every Saturday and am constantly impressed.

Yes, you could find Dawn of the Dead, Two Evil Eyes and others by Dario Argento right at the Los Angeles Public Library, and doubtless at other libraries, too. Why would you think otherwise? Go see.

I just borrowed 2 Stephen King books (actually, a short story collection, and his latest baseball novella) as well as a few videos, all as homework for a project I'm writing.

I'm in Santa Monica, so I use both the SM libraries, and the local branches of the LAPL. I keep a spreadsheet listing all the hours during the week for all the libraries I go to. Then I add their pickup/ due date to my google calendar.

The library rocks!

Libraries 1 - Phoenix Andrew 0.
I found several Dario Argento titles at LAPL.org

Don't forget the free wi-fi!

When my budget was tight I was in the library every week, they might not have netflix's selection but that was part of the fun of it, I would watch movies that I normally never would have if I had free access to all the latest blockbusters.

Its a great institution and has morphed into something even more important today with free internet access, dvds, cds, and something of an afternoon daycare for kids whose parents are working.

Books and magazines, DVDs, CDs, electronic books, free use of computers and internet access, storytimes, teen programs....but please, not daycare for children whose parents are working. We are not babysitters.

too bad the city doesn't seem to think that libraries are so important...i find it very sad that library hours have been cut even more :( I LOVE THE LIBRARY!

I love people like phoenixandrew who think sneering at the library makes them superior.

It actually just shows ignorance. Most large libraries have quite varied collections, and Interlibrary Loan (ILL) gives you access (almost always free) to practically anything available in the US.

I have only once not been able to get an item I requested through ILL--because that item was only published in the UK, about 30 years ago, and is not available at any participating ILL library. In fact, if I were to purchase it, I would have to purchase a UK edition, because it was never available in the US.

Assuming that you can't get anything "good" from the library is an ignorant and snobbish attitude, and shows your lack of awareness.

However, please feel free to keep that attitude. Because if you're using Netflix, it means that you are not at the library checking out the more unusual items--and I don't have to wait for them while you're using them.

Our pathetic library system has about two hundred DVD titles that are in almost unplayable condition. We have not yet discovered DRM e-books because the library administration likes bloated payrolls, pollution caused by cars needlessly going back and forth to the library for every title(s) and of course our valueless time.

unfortunately LAPL makes it very difficult, or impossible, to reserve and send DVD's and CD's to a LA city library that you normally go to. If the DVD/CD you want is in, say Silverlake, and you live in San Pedro, then you would have to drive all the way to Silverlake to borrow the item. At least LA County Libraries allow you to reserve these kind of materials without any difficulties. It's always good to have several libraries (LA City, LA County, local city) at your disposal so that you have many options. Just don't return a borrowed item to the wrong library :)

I rented from both libraries and Netflix. The cost is hardly a concern. Netflix has a vastly larger variety of films than the libraries of LA and San Bernardino Counties combined. Libraries have too many copies of the same titles and become a cheap source to those who don't want spend on renting. This is bad because libaries would be inundated with too many popular DVD that people are no longer interested in. Libraries should stock quality art films so that people be exposed to films other than popular titles. Besides, those who read will always go to a library to read. Readers don't forego reading because libraries now have more and cheaper DVD.

Sometimes I do go to the library and take out a CD but only when I get lazy and forget to drop my Netflix CD in the mail. That's when there happens to be a gap in the time when I wont be able to have a fresh CD ready to watch.Off to the library I go.Only one thing is missing, The selection. Netflix offers classics that out runs the library by a mile. Another note. Last week,I returned my CD but dropped it in the return box (Not over due)only to find out that it was not checked in by them. They told me that I had to pay a fine.I then told them that I did returned it and then asked how much it would cost me if nothing showed-up.The person said that they would do a trace of thirty days and if it was still not found then I would have to pay $45.00 + ten dollars (finding fee)$55.00 total.So I went stright to the CD shelf and found it and handed it to her and told her to please strighten this out now and scan it. She did. Form now on, I go in and make sure that it is properly checked in.I'm not going to pay for a used CD that I could get on-line for five bucks and pay Fifty-five just because someone did not do thier job right.

the only problem with our local libraries in Los Angeles is the scummy skanky and filthy dirty smelly homeless that hang out in the library and outside of the library. The homeless in their urine soaked and defecated in clothes they wear all the time and sit near us and we have to use the same chairs after they sit in them.

ha!ha! take that Netflix! it's good not to give so much power to one corporation. and i could'nt think of better competition than a public library. people should'nt always have to pay for everything. would Christ think of nothing but profit? NO WAY.
everybody needs to stop thinking only of the profit margin on everything. people who only think about money end up ruining themselves and others.
in these times of economic trouble, it's good that someone offers free entertainment. public parks are free. sometimes movies should be free. who cares if you catch up on every new release? relax, slow down. go see what the libary has. books are good for you and i suppose movies could be too. i learned everything i know from books. i love lending libraries and so did Ben Franklin (who seems to be popular again all of a sudden).
stop thinking only of profit and maybe we can all conduct some real business here and start making this country truly rich. besides, being too greedy only hurts the economy which, believe it our not, connects us all no matter how rich and powerful you THINK you are.

I think libraries have demonstrated the greatest of shortcomings of the DVDs and CDs - the "scratch". I have given up on DVDs from libraries as there are often scratched and usually degrade to un-viewable during the play period. Public use of those disks are hard on the polycarbonate shell. I stopped using the library to get disks because they are always stopping somewhere late in the moving leading to great frustration.

The NYC library system has a plenty of DVDs, but trying to check one out can be a very long and arduous process.

Their new online catalog/reserve system is full of bugs and unreliable. I have a DVD in their hold queue that's been there for over six months.

You may wait months for a DVD using the NYC library system or you can wait days using Netflix. The choice is yours.

My public library in Michigan not only has a vast DVD library, everything from movies, TV, educational etc. but they also ship between branches very fast, and they have professional scratch cleaning things and take care of any scratches that are reported to cause playback problems. They even have Blue Ray (though I don't).

The reporter makes it sound as though DVDs are something new to libraries. We began lending VHS in the early 1980's. When DVDs were introduced in the 1990's we added that format to our collections.

It's all economics, plus the fact that some libraries have video collections not found on Netflix, that people flock to the library to rent videos.

I joined Netflix because they offered the obscure Criterion classics that I couldn’t rent from the local stores. I dumped Netflix when I discovered that I could get all of those titles and more from my wonderful public library. Not every library has the same selection, but the one in my neighborhood (Memorial) is fantastic! By the way, you can also find a lot of free treasures online at pbs.org.

There is one thing about LAPL’s DVD collection, though, that gives me pause. Personally, I love edgy horror flicks, but I’m an adult. It makes me a little uncomfortable that these DVDs are so indiscriminately available to kids. I just don’t think it’s a great idea for a seven-year-old to be able to check out a copy of “The Hills Have Eyes” without running it by their parents first...

College students can also take advantage of their school libraries. I think they'd be very surprised to see the breadth of films stocked by their libraries. Even if you just live near a college/university but you're not a student with borrowing privileges, you could walk right in, pick out a DVD, find a screening room, and enjoy a free film.

First of all, I cannot believe that people are whining that the public library is not as good as NETFLIX. It's free, ok? Free. Sneer all you want, but the libraries have a pretty impressive collection especially considering that all of it is free to the public. And as for e-books, not sure if they have that but even so that's nothing to complain over - they at least have an online library for audiobooks in addition to the in-library audiobook collection. Besides, e-books barely started getting big anyway. How much of the public is really carrying around Nooks and Kindles? Had the library budget been preserved rather than slashed drastically, I'm sure that would have been the next step anyhow. Maybe rather than complaining, you people should be advocating for the restoration of the library funds and services.

ok seriously, netflix is $10 a month. If the library wanted to compete, it should compete with iBooks and have digital rentals of books. I spend way more on books than on renting movies.

I did not know that libraries also have DVDs you can rent out. Their rental fee might be cheaper too compared to NetFlix, Blockbuster. I will check out my local library soon and start with their DVD collection.


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