College will no longer maintain VCRs


Gunter Kleist

Old School on the shelves

Citing evolving technology and obsolescence, the Information and Technology Services Department has recently decided to stop supporting the VCRs among the classrooms and Stearns Cinema on campus.

Professors and students that were signed up to use the VCR in Stearns Cinema were sent an email from the IT department stating that the player is broken and the college will no longer fix broken VCR machines. However, the decision could be problematic because many professors still rely on using VCRs and the library has a large collection of VHS tapes.

According to Robert Gervais, the Coordinator of Instructional Technology, this isn’t a written policy but more of a “best practices” evolution.“VCR technology is over 30 years old and it doesn’t make sense to invest in outdated technology,” said Gervais. “DVDs have been the standard media for over 15 years…”

Gervais points out there is an escape hatch of sorts for faculty and staff still relying on the VHS format, and his department is willing to convert any tapes to DVDs for faculty. According to Gervais six or seven faculty members have already taken advantage of this offer.

The library itself has racks of VHS holdings, including may documentaries and films; however, Raymond Brior, the technical services librarian, asserts the new policy won’t be affecting the library that badly since it has only bought one VHS tape since 2007.

Conversion, however, is not a sure thing. Some of the tapes can’t be converted to DVDs because of copyright protection problems, says Brior, who notes that some of those documentaries could cost up to $400 to replace, if needed.

According to Faculty Librarian Joe Farara, the library has already decided to make a transition because of the newer technology. It is willing to order DVDs upon faculty request but the long-term strategy is to use streaming video services. The college has been looking at options and plans to run a pilot during spring semester.

“As for our VHS collection,” says Farara, “it will begin to disappear after we finish our reference collection project.”