ILS Measures on use of VHS in the Classroom

Bates is attempting to manage the effects of the demise of the VHS format. The new projection and switching equipment that is available for classroom use no longer can translate the low resolution image, and many devices no longer have the inputs required for VHS projection. This is a summary of where we are right now, and how we plan to manage this transition for the foreseeable future.

1. Classrooms that have working VHS capability will continue to have this until the VHS player fails, or until a major upgrade in the classroom technology is needed to keep the room in use. VCRs are still available in many campus classrooms. The up-to-date information on the capabilities of each classroom is recorded in the room attributes, which are visible at by clicking on the room number. Look for the notation “vcr.” These are all multi-region VCRs. We will update this information whenever the status of the equipment changes, but it is subject to change without notice if the equipment fails.

2. ILS staff will attempt to keep a working VHS player in at least a couple of large rooms for as long as we can, including Olin 105, Pettengill G65, and Pettigrew 301 (Filene), and Carnegie 204. These rooms are used regularly for movie projection and we will try to keep them working. We will do the same for Pettengill G54, Pettigrew 200, and Carnegie 113. If this means moving a VCR from a less-used room, we will do that. We have data in our systems on the frequency of use of each piece of equipment in the classrooms.

3. The library currently owns about 7,000 VHS tapes. We have an ongoing project to replace them when a commercial DVD or Blu-Ray becomes available. Last year we replaced about 700 tapes. If you request to put a VHS tape on reserve for classroom use, we will check for availability of a commercial DVD and purchase it. If you know of a DVD replacement, please let us know.

4. If a commercial DVD is not available for purchase and the item is needed in a room without a VCR, the library will follow the new (2012) Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, issued by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), and make a preservation copy of the tape in DVD format. The DVD will become the circulating or use copy, and will be available for use only by students, faculty and staff members. We have developed a form for you to use to request reformatting of a VHS tape for classroom use, which you’ll find at: This will be a first-come, first-served service, and cannot be rushed, as transfer of a 3-hour tape to DVD takes . . . 3 hours to copy . . . plus additional time to process and make available.

5. The library will regularly review these preservation copies to see if a commercial DVD is available, and will purchase the DVD as soon as it is available. In some cases a commercial streaming service may become available, and we will consider this option as well.

6. The library will continue to provide both DVD and VHS projection capabilities in its viewing rooms in Ladd Library. Individuals or small groups may use any of these rooms by signing up at the Audio/Video desk on the ground floor of the library.

The ARL guidelines are an interpretation of the provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, section 108c) that allow a library to make copies of materials in its collection in a new format if the “machine or device necessary to render perceptible a work stored in that format is no longer manufactured or is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.” This applies to library property only. VHS tapes that are your own or your department’s property cannot be handled in this way, although the Digital Media Studios in Pettigrew will continue to make its equipment available to you as an individual for you to reformat your own tapes for your own research use.

We hope that these steps will continue to support your work in teaching Bates students. If you have particular circumstances that require our attention, please feel free to contact Scott Tiner, Chris Schiff or Brenda Reynolds, who are working together to make these processes work.

Gene Wiemers – July 2014