Library DVD and video rentals started being free on July 22. Has it changed the way things work?
Incredibly. You wouldn't believe it. I went to get an obscure Bette Davis movie, All This and Heaven, Too, for myself the other day. It wasn't there. That's not happened before. People are taking chances. They're watching videos they never would have picked before when they had to pay.
Has it changed the way you and the staff operate?
Well, I used to hesitate to recommend movies. I was worried people would waste their money, wouldn't like my choices. Now I just say, "Here, take this and watch it. Just remember to bring it back on time." We're pushing a lot harder, and people are willing to broaden their horizons more.
How many VHS tapes and DVDs does the system circulate?
Throughout the system, there are 14,747 titles. DVDs are 6,046 of those, which includes children's DVDs.
So you are still doing VHS?
Yes, some of the VHS tapes are older and it's hard to find those movies anywhere else—a lot of movies are just not available on DVD yet. The African Queen, for example, with screenplay by James Agee and John Huston, was not available on DVD and stopped being available on VHS. So, if you broke it, it was gone. We finally found a copy that had been legally printed in Japan.
The tapes and DVDs are only at the downtown library, not the branches?
Yes. Still, we can send a DVD or VHS to any branch if a person requests it. To find out what we have online, you go to knoxlib.org and click "DVD" on the search box. The newest are listed first, or you can type a title or an actor to search—anything you want.
What movies are you personally watching?
I'm on a Bette Davis kick and I've watched them all up to 1940. Last week I watched The Letter. It's terrific.