Sarah Resnick: This is Sarah Resnick, and I’m speaking with Carleton Jackson. Today is May 3rd, 2011 and we’re recording this interview for the IMLS Moving Image Specialists in Libraries project in the Moving Image Preservation Program at New York University. Today we are speaking via Skype. And thank you Carleton for agreeing to do this interview.
Carleton Jackson: You’re welcome.
SR: To get started, tell me a few things about your position, like your job title, and what kind of appointment you have, and where you work.
CJ: As you said, my name is Carleton Jackson. I work at the University of Maryland— that’s in College Park, Maryland, outside the District of Columbia, [and] not [in] Baltimore as a lot of people automatically assume. I’m with the libraries, and I am specifically at a branch library that is within all the libraries, officially known as the Nonprint Services Library, “nonprint” leftover from the old days of 1973 when this place first opened, when if you weren’t print you were non-print. My position is a multiple phase position. I’m generally referred to as the Reference and Collection Management Librarian of Nonprint Media Services, but [this title] has sort of evolved, and lately I’m being referred to as the Media Resources Librarian in Nonprint Media Services. So my main job is pretty clear in that first part. I’m also a subject specialist for Film and Television Studies. And I have coined my own specialty, which [the library has] allowed me to leave on my professional page: a Media and Curriculum Specialist. In other words, I’m the main person that helps faculty work media into their curriculum: I [field] their questions and [explain] what we can do and what’s possible and that sort of thing. I can give you more detail about that if asked.
SR: Yes, of course. I want to ask you a question first though. Did this position exist before you arrived at the library, or is it something that’s evolved since you’ve been there? And, how long have you been there?
CJ: Well, the position exists as a slot, a place. It started as the assistant head, or the Librarian of Nonprint Media Services. There is [also] the Manager [which] is also a librarian position, and [acts as] sort of a “second [media] librarian position.” There are other staff—professional staff—that work here, as well as students and graduate students, etc. So the slot has existed, I believe, since 1973. There have always been two librarians here—[well,] not at the very beginning, but [sometime soon] thereafter. But of course, what [the Nonprint Librarian] does has evolved just as media, and the use of media, has evolved over the years—[the role can adapt to] whatever we need as things change. I would say most of the changes have happened since I came to this slot in 1988. At that time, I was pretty much a reference librarian and assistant to the head [of the department] and acted in his stead when necessary. But [now there are] all these other things [that are part of [our] job responsibilities,] including the online and digital realms. When I first started, we were the only place [on campus] that had audiovisual equipment and everyone had to come to us. [Whereas now] every place on campus is equipped for some sort of media use, and people [tend to] come to us get stuff and go away, or they access it online—[online access] is ubiquitous across campus. So the job’s changed to go along with that.
SR: So this may be a good time to start talking about your primary job duties and responsibilities. Would you go into more detail about that, and even describe a typical day or week in your job?
CJ: In a typical day, anything is possible. Day to day, my main duty is to get materials into the library and make them available to people, and to help people get to and use those materials, either in their research, or in their classroom. Over the years, I think we’ve done a pretty good job at teaching people how to find things. And I have staff and even student workers who help people literally put their hands on materials or find them in the digital realm. I [personally] interact most often with faculty or graduate students. I help them work things out for their classes and book materials, [and they suggest needed] materials for their classes and/or the collections. I spend about four hours a day on a public desk as it were—or on-call—so that people who need a slightly more specialized assistance will have me available. Most people know that I tend to work in the morning, when faculty members come into work. So I get a good wave of activity in the morning, and then I get another wave of activity in the evening as people are departing. In more recent days, most of our interaction with faculty and students tends to be online, whether over chat or email or Skype. But we still have a lot of people who like to come into the facility. So that’s a good part of my day.
And then, a lot of my day is [spent locating] or acquiring materials, and researching materials to possibly acquire, and working the budget as creatively as I can to get as many things [as possible] and to get things fast. “Getting” can mean buying or it can mean licensing access. It can also mean borrowing, or bringing materials in to be here temporarily or on-reserve. Or, between you and me, facilitating the transfer of content from hard [copy] to digital [formats] for temporary use, to push fair use uses, or to add to our permanent or semi-perpetual digital library. That takes a good section of time, that is, the “sit-down” time, away from the public. Since I’m also a subject [librarian], I do classes, I do guides, I go to the departments and often work [with faculty to integrate] materials into [their curricula]. [Frequently,] I will help a department through its accreditation process, making sure it has enough support from the libraries to put on programs, symposia, festivals, etc.
SR: So you really have your work cut out for you then.
CJ: My whole department helps [in this area], but I’m sort of the lead on that. But actually, what’s [also] fun is that I have a budding group of clientele who are making films. There’s a whole new group of folks whose PhD dissertations are almost semi-required to have an audiovisual component to them. So we get a lot of activity in that area. I think I’ve [described all my duties]; well, ask me more …
SR: Let’s move on to what type of moving image material you actually work with in the collection. Video? Film? Digital materials?
CJ: Let me just say one final thing to wrap up that previous point. Being on faculty here, a lot of my time is spent like those faculty members who teach: [participating in] university and library governance and other professional and creative services. In my area, I do a little less publishing, and a little more talking and [running] workshops. And a lot of that [takes place] off-campus or with faculty members. For better or for worse, it does take up a lot of our time.
SR: You’re on additional committees within the library then?
CJ: Yes, on national, local, and on-campus levels.
To answer your question about what we’ve got … well, we have everything. The collection was born in 1973 and we started with the formats of that time. It began as an all-videocassette collection , and at that time the video format of choice was ¾-inch, otherwise known as U-Matic. Shortly thereafter [we started collecting] audiocassettes of spoken-word [poetry, drama and interviews]. In those days [we also had] the Music Library, which [started acquiring] dance materials and then theater materials, and [eventually] became the Performing Arts Library. The [Music Library] collections were generally [comprised of] audio formats, starting with the [vinyl] record and eventually moving to CD, but bypassing audiocassettes completely—the library did not think it was an archival format, or a collection format. [The Music Library] bypassed audiocassettes [for collecting music], but we did use audiocassettes for all of our [other audio] acquisitions; mainly spoken word and drama, those types of things. Music materials on [audio formats] remain in what is now the Performing Arts Library.
[Elsewhere on campus] the audiovisual format of choice was 16mm film. [Eventually,] [the libraries] [assumed] the role of housing departmental film collections, while also developing one of our own. [Faculty members] found it much easier to have their 16mm films with us, [in so far as] they could come in and look at a film, either on their own, or with their students, since we have the equipment and facilities to do so. And we’ve been open from eight in the morning until ten at night [for as long as I can remember]. Even now our facilities contain players [for] every format— from 16mm to ¾-inch cassettes— for spur of the moment use.
We also have CDs and laser discs, which was our prime format in between the days of VHS and DVD. If available, [a title on] videodisc was preferred over VHS. And we have loose formats that were short-lived, like Betamax. But generally speaking we’ve gone through the main wave. We’ve bypassed Blu-ray completely. And although we don’t have much that’s born-digital yet, we have things that are shared-digital, both on CD and in digital file formats.
SR: And is there a commitment within your department to upkeep equipment and to buy legacy equipment if necessary?
CJ: Our commitment is to keep and to acquire [legacy equipment]. We’ve done such a good job of [this], that we have things in storage that we can swap out: videodisc and ¾-inch [U-Matic players], although the collection is getting smaller. And we have quite a few VHS [-DVD combination] machines left too. Simultaneously we’re migrating materials where [permissible] or buying new copies if the items are commercially available. But if they’re not commercially available, we do our thing to make those films available for people.
SR: Do you have any sense of the quantity of moving image media that can be found in your library?
CJ: Yeah, we tend to say between 30 and 50 thousand [items], depending on how we’re counting. We try to keep our homepage description up-to-date, but it changes so [frequently] that I’ve gotten to the point of maybe updating it just twice a semester. As all the departments move on to DVD, they have given up their [departmental] VHS materials, their laser discs. And as we find unique titles or variations that we don’t have, we’ll add them to the collection or we’ll stash the others for [someone] down the road. So we’re always “scanning” [our collections, looking for unique items]. If we ask our catalog how many things we have in certain categories, we come up with all sorts of interesting information depending on which format we search for. We have so many things that are part of large series that [our count] is sort of off, because our catalog only tells us titles and it tends not to tell us variations of editions. So we have to do a little compiling on our own to get a sense of it. Other than accompanying parts of print things that go with videos, and a small reference collection of things that are in print, our entire collection is some sort of [hard copy] audiovisual format or accessed online. So we tend to say 40,000 [items], even though if we were to sit around and count everything it would be closer to 50,000. We’re not an archive collection per se, even though we have and work with other collections that are audiovisual archives ….
SR: That was my next question.
CJ: We have things that might be considered archival because they’re so old and we’re treating them specially. But we treat them specially, small s, whereas other places in our [library] treat those collections as “Special” with a capital S.
SR: So there are moving image materials scattered throughout these Special Collections?
CJ: In this case, scattered is not so much the word—they’re actually quite coordinated throughout collections because in our own building. Aside from what’s here, we have the National Broadcasting Archives, which is sort of but not exactly what it sounds like—it has relationships with [National Public Radio, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting , and local public TV broadcasters, and many of their materials are archived here, though not necessarily everything in the [U.S]. We have [materials from] local stations, like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting in Edinburgh. We have materials from National Public Radio (NPR), along with our local Maryland public television [station] WMPT, and in DC WETA. We have an NPR oral history project. Then we have the Library of American Broadcasting, which [contains] more print than audiovisual materials, and was mostly collected during the 50s: it includes early radio transcription discs, radio commercials. It’s one of [the library’s] high-use [audiovisual] collections that [falls outside of our domain.] [As part of the Music Library], we also have the International Piano Archives. And we have our own digital library [collection], which evolved out of commercially available items—we call it “Films at UM.” A lot of people think [the name] looks a little bit like Films for the Humanities and Sciences when we put our logo out. It’s comprised of materials that were in our hard collection [including titles] that FMG has subsequently lost the license [to sell as hard copies]—they’re generally high-use materials, or materials that were only available at a certain time, and they [have] become higher-use [since being] available digitally. And then there’s the University Archives. And we have a digital repository as well for [archiving audiovisual materials] from faculty members.
SR: And is there a central conservation or preservation department within your library?
CJ: There is. Our libraries played with [initiating] a very concerted effort in audiovisual [preservation], but with the economic issues of the last few years, we have not gone as far as we wanted. At one point, they appointed an official audiovisual archivist at University of Maryland Libraries, and eventually she was—as people all want to eat and eat well—raided by the National Archives, which, in case you’re not aware, the National Archives II is at College Park Maryland—it’s actually on our property, just two miles down the road from us, and includes most of their audiovisual materials. Which makes this area an attraction for audiovisual content [researchers]. But that also means NARA has an attraction for our audiovisual staff. And so our [former audiovisual] archivist is now with them, and the economics dictated that we would hold off on hiring [someone in] that position again.
[When we did have a specialist however,] the library was thinking of hiring an audiovisual engineer and overseeing an on-site audiovisual [preservation and] recovery center, which in fact still physically exists—the equipment and the room and all that is there, but nobody is currently working with it except on an individual basis; there’s no concerted effort. And in that facility we can handle every format: 16mm, 1-inch video, etc. We gave our 2-inch video deck to the Library of Congress because we rarely have materials in that format. And I’m not a technical person, so I may not be describing it perfectly, but I know that with our equipment we can access, clean and repair every format since 16mm.
SR: Okay, so if you were to have an issue with a particular item, would there be any one right now in the library to take care of it? And, sorry, I’m just going to come back to something else. I was looking at your homepage on the website today …
CJ: It’s a really ugly homepage, but …
SR: … And of course your brief bio and responsibilities. And it says that in fact you are responsible, or that one of your job responsibilities, is preserving audiovisual resources. So what’s your relationship to preservation within the library? And what would happen now if something were to go wrong?
CJ: It’s literally—I figure out if there’s a problem and do something about it.
CJ: But the doing something about it can involve me, or it can involve sending the item out, or taking it to the people who have a little more responsibility in that area … and then we’ll assess and go from there. We certainly have relationships with companies that can transfer or treat materials. We have a couple of people in-house who can work with issues of vinegar syndrome and all of that, and some technicians too. But we do not push or offer our service outside of the libraries in that realm, even though there are people on campus who would love to access an on-campus service to help with their personal audiovisual materials in the various departments. Funny, the other librarian Alan Rough who is the manager of libraries, we sort of joke that he’s delivery and I’m content. That’s pretty much true with respect to your question. We have a preservation department in our libraries, and generally if we need some assistance we have a person on our staff who offers the first analysis—the first person to triage and look at what’s needed and what we need to do. If it’s something that I can just buy in a new format, then I’ll do so—that’s our rule of thumb. If it’s not available and we need to do something about it, then this person will evaluate it, and then it will go to our technical person to see if it’s something within his or her skill-level to repair, and if not we’ll send it out. Sometimes we have a budget for that; sometimes [I/we] have to find a grant. If it’s an expensive proposition, we collaborate with our own people in Special Collections.
SR: So you would say generally that within the library, preservation for audiovisual materials is a least part of the conversation, right?
CJ: Yes, it’s part of the conversation, though we sometimes have to remind people. Our head is into it, but sometimes the rest of the [University of Maryland Libraries] world, the people who have the budgets and things, [need reminding on] how important media is. But it’s not a tough discussion with those people. But they may have a tough discussion with the people above them on the administrative level. So part of my job is actually public relations—with our own [library] people.
SR: Right, and actually that was the next question that I have. You know, one of the ways that libraries can typically advocate for the importance of materials is to show that they’re actually being used and that they’re considered valuable by the patrons and the public and the larger public. So I was wondering if your library does any kind of outreach or public relations to engage the [larger community]. Do you make your collections known to a larger public, or do you have online streaming, stuff like that? I don’t know, maybe that’s less applicable to you in an academic library?
CJ: We don’t go out of our way to find folks that are not affiliated with the university to advertise our materials, unless there’s some quid pro quo factor. Or if we just find some group out there that really needs what we only have. So when things are really “special,” then certainly we will treat the folks who need them with respect and reverence and try to help them. I bet up at NYU you find this all the time. We’re always finding filmmakers or distributors have the rights to a film that they have no master of or it’s been destroyed or burned in a fire or something. And we have it, and they come begging and hoping that we would be nice enough to help them out and make a copy for them again. And if what they [say] is true, then we will certainly help them. We’ve had relationships where the original rights holder has paid us money to send something out and have it reformatted onto DVD. Or we’ll share the cost with them, and then we each have [a copy]: the rights holder will have the original or something close to it back, and we will have a set that we can use, and we’ll have a signature somewhere that allows us to put it up on our digital library or available for use or whatever. We’ve not been lucky enough … Every now and then, some university will actually get the rights for a “holy grail video" [i.e. a video that is rare and difficult to find and/or acquire] and actually get to distribute it. What is it …? Bringham Young has somehow got the rights to distribute the Italian film We All Loved Each Other So Much [C'eravamo tanto amati] (1975) as an educational copy through Amazon. But uh, that’s really intriguing there. Someone knew somebody somewhere. I would love to find the rights to Antonio Das Mortes (1969) or one of these other films that people are always looking for that haven’t been around except for on 16mm in the past.
SR: So, this might be a good time to move on and talk a little bit about what kind of training you had and what prepared you to work in this position.
CJ: Interesting you should ask that question, because I get it all that time. In our building is our library school, and we have those students who would love to know what “track” you go through to get to be the type of librarian I am, or something like it. And I sort of carved it out over the years, but now, with the help of you guys [at NYU] and Howard [Besser], and Gary [Handman] and other folks who taught the classes related to library education, we’re trying to make it more formal. Mine was just sort of luck. At one time I was trying to be a more outgoing person, and as an undergraduate I ended up in various programs that forced me to be outgoing, like theatre. So it was essentially just being a person who was interested [in performance and media]. And I kept piling on classes and applying for jobs as a regular librarian in those areas which [allowed] me to learn more about this. Probably the thing that was most important, which no longer exists as much now, was the advent of the librarian that specialized in serving undergraduate programs, for both instruction and being able to teach people how to do research. I think it went from [being called] library instruction to bibliographic instruction to user education—it was a good background for being this type of librarian, in that you studied what to do with lots of people at one time. Which often meant looking at visual content to help teach—film or video, slide-tape productions, PowerPoint. And this prepared me to work with visual content in a collection [context] as well. I was personally interested in film from the get-go, but other people who [work in this field] have worked their way from presentation philosophies to media. Learning about media and [its place in] the bibliographic chain of publication was certainly important. Learning about documentary—my particular thing is documentary film—and all the [resources] that teach people about documentary research and visual culture, certainly worked into that. But once I was a librarian, I just networked with people who did what I wanted to do until I found more and more people who did it full-time. And then I tried to work to become one of those who had collections.
SR: Did you work as a librarian elsewhere before this position?
CJ: Yes, I came through the undergraduate instruction [specialty], and ... let’s see, what did I start as? Well, of course I started out, among other things, being a subject librarian for topics that … where audiovisual stuff was the primary text. So even though I was a selector for African American studies and Art and Business in the past, as I’ve moved into being a selector for Performing Arts—dance, theater, television, radio, film—I also learned more about those materials since they are primarily audiovisual. I became a coordinator for library instruction, and sort of worked my way up until I managed to get into a collection that was all audiovisual and then go from there. Also, for ten years I worked as a public librarian in the audiovisual collections in Baltimore’s Enoch Pratt Free Library, [at the same time that I worked here].
SR: Today, do you continue your professional development in any way? Do you attend conferences, symposia? How do you keep up-to-date with what’s changing in the field of media preservation and [media] content?
CJ: Well, all of the above. I do all the things that have the word “library” somehow connected to them. The American Library Association, for instance—I was a founding member of Video Roundtable. And I have worked with other groups in ALA that have something to do with media. Recently I’ve done more in those groups that are not library groups [per se], but that are responsible for either creating or evaluating media. My fun stuff now is in groups like the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the International Documentary Association. I was a judge this last year for IDA for the long-form and some of the short-form documentary categories. Of course, a lot of people were judges since it was all done online. I never was sure if there were 12 judges or 2000 judges, because they never actually told me—we did it remotely and online. But I’ve also worked with festivals and those sorts of things in person, and I’ve worked for the last few years here in the DC area with their Silverdocs documentary film festival. I go through the festival circuit—actually tomorrow and Thursday I am a judge for a local student film festival that is happening—and the more I can see what people are doing, the more I feel like I understand what works and what doesn’t and all of that. Of course, the next realm I think I need training in—because more and more people are asking questions about it—is [hands-on filmmaking]. In the same way that to know whether a book is good, it doesn’t hurt to know how to write, to understand if a film is good, it doesn’t hurt to know how to make one. So, that’s my next realm of learning—how to [make a film] start to finish.
SR: Wow. Are you planning on taking any classes or is there a project that you are going to assume on your own time?
CJ: Classes if I can, but we now have such a large pool of filmmakers in this area who have offered to let me piggyback on the process with them. We have Macs in our libraries, although we do not [yet] take any responsibility for training people to use them. The Macs have iMovie, Final Cut and all that stuff. And I just acquired a computer at home which has the Windows programs, like Sony Vegas MovieMaker, and all that. So I can see both sides—enough, anyway, to have a good conversation with people about what they’re doing, as well as being able to help our users when they’re trying to negotiate [the use of editing software]. But there are other departments with people that are more skilled [in this area], so when [users have questions that we can’t handle], we send them [elsewhere]. Still [I aim to be conversant around] the conceptual framework [of film production] and to [enter into discussion with] people who are making films.
At the same time, we’re finally getting our Film Studies program back on campus, and now I’m trying to learn the vocabulary of academic film studies. [In the early 1990s, our Radio, Television & Film Department was cut due to funding.] I am still working on this, making sure I always have the word discourse or whatever other words seem to be hot in the film studies circuit. I need to make sure that I understand what those words are and that I can [understand and] work them into a [scholarly] conversation. We just had a symposium on cinema and history. I worked behind the scenes and attended just like any other student or observer and found it really exciting. It takes a lot of reading and hearing these things before it starts to … the vocabulary and the academic way of dealing with those things start to sink in, but I feel like a librarian has to know how to talk that talk. And then, when you’re talking to the [production professionals], you also need to talk of MPEGs and compressions and things that have numbers and then a dot and then another number—a general knowledge of all that seems to be important for our position.
SR: So, would you feel comfortable talking about any challenges that you face in your position? If there are any ….
CJ: Well, there are always challenges. The big challenge is marketing. You can try to have a service, but you always need to get money to do it, so you’re always sort of marketing or begging to try to do it. But it’s a chicken and egg thing to get money to do it, because sometimes you have to show them you can do it [first], and you have a methodology to work with and that there’s a need. I was talking with someone else in a meeting this morning and I was saying that marketing and public relations for our own staff and administrators is almost as important as marketing the service outward to our primary users. And trying to get the things to market to our primary users involves a lot of marketing evangelism with our holders of money. We’ve been doing an interesting workaround, going directly to the university departments to get them excited about something that they will then ask the library for. That way, I can then respond to that request and know something about it. So that’s [been our approach with this new] film studies program. We’ve convinced the department that we could support the program, and then they created it, and now they’re asking the libraries for support. We already have some but we can use more and need more money for it. So now we have to market to our own deans to see if they’ll then support it. What was your question?
SR: Oh, yeah, I was just asking if you face any challenges in your position. But maybe on the flip side we can talk about some of your accomplishments and maybe more specifically the kind of impact that you have on the library.
CJ: Well, any of my accomplishments are really those of the whole department in various ways. We have tried a couple of pilot projects [prompted by the fantasy of waving a magic wand to yield whatever we wanted.] For instance, what if we tried to implement a video reserves and educational management system like Blackboard or Sky? When would they launch? And: Could we do it? And if we could, what would work and what would be problem areas? And could we find rights to some things to cover our assets or would we push fair use? [How can we apply] what we’ve learned [regarding] copyright, [particularly from the experiences of other libraries], in a way that would prevent us from being sued. We participate in everything we can. We’ve participated with the DMCA hearings and we write and talk to vendors. It’s not like New York where you have lots of vendors, but they’re not very far away; we have a few down here in DC. I meet with them very informally and together we may mutually arrive at [an understanding] without signing away our rights, or doing something that would have Pat Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi coming after us and saying, “No, no, no. Don’t sign here, use all your rights when you’ve got them.” And we agree. But there are also people saying that if we can negotiate to confirm those rights and we can push through the legal system, then should do it that way. So one accomplishment, [maybe], is balancing the area between rights and licensing … to be able to do the best with what we can for our users without hurting the profession in any sort of way.
SR: That’s a lot to balance.
CJ: Yes, it’s a lot to balance. Another accomplishment is that we’ve been able to get this Film Studies department going again on campus, which we think will then promote more use of audiovisual stuff, which will then promote more people using audiovisual [material academically]. We think we’re a pretty decent role model for other [librarian] folks, other universities. We seem to have [library] people coming to see what we do and talk to us all the time, or we’re asked to go to them to talk or to do a Skype or teleconference. So we feel we have recognition, which again makes our administrators happy and then they’ll maybe give us some money because of it. And we start that process again.
SR: In your opinion, what leads to the creation of positions such as your own in libraries?
CJ: Oh, okay. Well I don’t know if there are a lot of positions like mine being created, which is sort of sad. But there are a lot of hybrid positions that are coming out. It seems like in positions that are being created now, somewhere along the line the word digital or metadata or copyright gets added to the job description, along with media. The librarian may be primarily responsible for something, but as s/he gets more involved in metadata and digital and rights and licensing, s/he learns more about the media package and how important that is. I think very few people are starting off with an all audiovisual collection or center anymore. I met with vendor [representatives] recently who said their company really likes the concept of the [audiovisual] center, the [multimedia] commons area, and really wants to support people who are doing that. But they realized that a lot of places are decentralizing these commons. We thought it was interesting that information systems vendors wanted to come out of their way to help support libraries like us because the head really thinks it’s important and it’s a bad idea for these centers to disappear. [Of course, we agree.] These days the online world cannot be denied and shouldn’t be, but we also understand that integrating a media center into your services creates a situation where people can get together and actually use materials in a collaborative space. [That means] they’re actually together and doing things as a group and seeing materials and talking and not just being on email or chat—this is still really, really important. No university, other than the University of Phoenix, should be totally online. It should be an option, a point of access, but not a center of the learning universe.
SR: At the beginning of that response you said that you didn’t think that many positions like yours are being created, and do you have any sense of why that might be?
CJ: Why they’re not being created?
CJ: Because the people who are creating [the positions] are not on the ground with the people who are using these materials. I think when they do [spend time on the ground,] they realize that they need a specialist.. The Association of College and Research Libraries provides “Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries,” and I think they’re about to update those again. So that will be the fourth revision of that. But each time so far, ACRL has recommended that there be some way to centralize materials and skills and all of that, even though they may not all be in the same room. There must be a way that patrons can access them and get to the experts in that area. So it’s not just having every subject librarian buy some videos in every department—it needs to be a more concentrated effort than that to work well. And I think there will be places that specialize in that, and who will emerge as leaders in that area. If a university wants media available for classroom and student use, you must have something to make available, and you must have ways for people to use the materials. And as materials become more interactive, especially if we include social media uses, those collections with media and those classrooms that can access media, will be more important, I think. So, we’re back to public relations again. I consider myself a media evangelist and I’m always promoting media to everyone—from the librarian across the hall, who has a print collection, to the governing bodies on campus, and to national associations.
I also [run] occasional workshops for American Film Institute (AFI), teaching filmmakers what they need to know about the education market. This way, when I’m talking to distributors down the line [about licensing materials for specific uses], and they say, “Oh, I can’t go back and talk to my filmmakers, they don’t know anything about this and they wouldn’t agree to what you’re asking,” I can reply in return, “Hey, these people on your list knew about this when their films and they’re ready to sign off and all that—just ask them.”
SR: Okay, I just have one final question, which is related to what we’ve just been talking about. Do you have any sense of what needs to be changed about the status of moving image preservation specialists in libraries? Do you feel like it needs to be more important, more valued? I don’t know if you can speak generally to the larger library culture … if you want to.
CJ: I can. And this will go against something that I just said. I think every person who works for the libraries is a moving image specialist because they should always be considering media. They may not have the specialized skill-set, but they should always be thinking about AV materials. And whenever they go to a department and talk about what’s in the library’s collection, they also should say, and we have this in audiovisual materials. And if we have things for a while and they’re starting to disappear, and the department turns around and says, for example, “Wow, the America series is no longer available, but it’s still a core text in my class, what are you going to do about it?” Then every librarian who is a subject specialist has to be prepared to think about it and go to the dean and say, you can’t let this go away, or you must get us the rights to change this to DVD or digitize it before we [lose it from the collection]. Because we can’t take the chance that it’s not available for research or teaching down the road. So you have to think about items even when they’re still available, to make sure that they stay that way.
That means media should be part of what every librarian does as well as the training received in library school—assuming that you think what’s taught in library school is actually important to what you do on a day-to-day basis. It should be. Some people wonder if it is relevant or if it’s just a hoop. But even if it’s a hoop, media needs to be part of the [MLIS curriculum]. So more of us who are media librarians need to be involved with instruction. And even those professors in anthropology or landscape architecture, for example, should be thinking about media materials as well. It should be ubiquitous even beyond the library skills providers. I think every person in library school should have to learn how to make a film.
CJ: Matter of fact, I think everybody should learn how to make a film. The New School in New York, requires every student learn how to make a film. It’s being considered … just like professional writing was something that everybody had to learn how to do. They take a class.
SR: Right, they just had a conference about the changing realm of academic publishing, that it’s now including media materials on par with written materials. They seem to emphasize that there; it’s interesting. Okay, well do you have any final thoughts? That was my last question for you.
CJ: Did we talk about copyright and things like that? But I think that’s a category that everybody has to learn about.
SR: If you want to talk about any of the difficulties that you face because of copyright …..
CJ: Well, you have to know enough to have a conversation, but to be librarian you don’t need to know as much as to be a lawyer. But it’s important to be familiar with the issues and familiar with what’s going on outside of your own university. And of course, being in the network with other folks all the time, it’s still really important. I mean it’s true for any profession, but it’s true for us definitely.
SR: Yeah, actually, I’m curious … Is copyright part of library school instruction today? I don’t actually know….
CJ: It is, at least in our program here on campus. There are one or two classes that feature it, although they’re not 100 percent about it. Not every class … I mean, the class may address media, but not every class is just about media, it’s about other things as well. But, it’s in there and should be.
SR: Yes, it’s here in NYU’s [Moving Image Preservation and Archiving] program as well. Okay, well thank you very much for agreeing to participate in this interview.
CJ: Oh, you’re welcome!