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Hunter McDaniel

Sounds like this is just an idea someone came up with and hasn't really gone very far. It makes sense in principle, to the extent that libraries have it in their mission to distribute DVDs in the first place.

However, I think both NF and the library would need a fair amount of process and IT development to make a service like this work. Key questions that would have to be addressed might be:
a) How much of the NF catalog would be available to library patrons? Most likely they would want to focus on educational and classic titles, not new releases.
b) How would NF price this service? My assumption is that it would be per-rental with some fixed due date and, horror of horrors - late fees.
c) Given that the library has a fixed budget, how would the service be rationed among people who wanted to use it?
d) How would missing/broken discs be paid for? I believe this is the hardest problem, since some patrons would try to keep discs while claiming they were lost in the mail.


I think it could work a lot like libraries already do. Instead of having, say, 300 purchased disks on-site, they'd have a NetFlix library account that allows 30 out at a time. So if you want to get a disk from the library, you have to wait till someone else returns one, just like you do today. And if someone keeps a disk too long, NetFlix doesn't care; the library would be the one to levy a late fee. I'm sure they could handle broken/lost disks in a similar way.

Such functionality would require enhancements to the NetFlix systems though. Request would need to come through a special library interface, then forwarded on to NetFlix for fulfillment.

Walter Underwood

I know of two libraries that already do this, the Vernon Free Library (Vermont) and the Exeter Public Library (Rhode Island). It sounds like a good way for a library to extend their collection size. In some sense, it is just another kind of inter-library loan, so it might not be difficult to integrate with the library database.




The question remains, why provide this free? They should charge at least a couple bucks.

Hunter McDaniel

It's a public library. Do you know of any libraries that charge you for every book checked out?

The real question is, why should libraries stock videos in the first place? Charging a fee would only make that question more acute. But given that libraries ARE providing DVDs for their patrons, they should do so as efficiently as possible.


I know of libraries that charge a fee to get DVDs. The demand for books is different. The library would quickly be swamped with people requesting movies, even if they left out new releases and popcorn movies. The reason I am suggesting a fee is to protect against theft and improve the service. Unless they handle distribution through branches, they're going to have people claiming they got lost in the mail. It's not going to be more efficient at all. They would need a large supply of DVDs, or very limited selection, to avoid having a huge bottle-neck from a glut of requests.

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