Library movie policy

To the Editor:

In response to several recent letters regarding the Shelter Island Public Library’s circulation policies, I’d like to share some facts about how the library selects and circulates materials, as well as clear up a few misconceptions from the recent letters.

The mission of the Shelter Island Public Library is to “provide state-of-the art resources and services to meet the current and evolving needs of the community.” The library’s staff and board of trustees work to “ensure a focus on materials, services, programs, events, and activities that promote education, information, entertainment, and the arts for the benefit of all segments of the community.” 

With that in mind, the library works diligently to make available classic, popular and current materials in a variety of formats including periodicals, newspapers, books, audio books, downloadable items, videos, CDs, DVDs and more. Materials are selected based on professional standards and media reviews as well as community usage patterns and patron requests.

On average, the library purchases only six to eight DVDs per month for adults and fewer than that for children and young adults. These purchases are not typically all new releases; they may include classic movies, older releases, cable and public television series, as well as replacements for lost or damaged material.

The library adheres to industry standards and does not circulate newly-released movies before the production companies’ “street dates,” just as we would not place a new book on the shelf before its official publication date. Most new items, which require routine receiving, processing and cataloging, actually take from 7 to 10 days to get into circulation once they are delivered to the library. This is a common practice found in many libraries that work with a small staff.

Also, as many of your readers know, the library utilizes interlibrary loan privileges with Suffolk County libraries. This means that if an item is not available at the Shelter Island Public Library, it can be requested from a neighboring library. These interlibrary loan privileges are available for many items, but the majority of libraries do not loan either new books or new movies for the first six months of owning the item. In this case, we will purchase the item if there is patron demand and that item meets our selection requirements.

I hope this information corrects any misunderstandings about certain circulation and selection practices and provides information regarding the number of new DVDs that the library actually places into circulation. As always, I am happy to discuss this with any member of the community — my door is always open.