Brief Overview of the Collection
Levels of selection (comprehensive, research, instructional support, basic information; for a description of these levels, see the general policy statement.
Type of materials included and excluded: Critical and theoretical studies, filmographies, screenplays, exhibition catalogs and reference sources are all actively acquired. These include journals, monographs and series, in print and online. The collection excludes popular compilations (One Hundred Films You Must See Before You Die), as well as most materials on practical technique and “how to” books. Unrevised dissertations available online through the Library’s subscription to Proquest Digital Theses and Dissertations are also excluded.
Films are acquired to support the research and teaching needs of faculty and students in Cinema and Media Studies and related disciplines. Where possible, the CMS bibliographer will acquire “cinematic” titles needed for teaching in the Core or other non-CMS courses, and for faculty and student research across the curriculum.
Since visual media studies is a broadly multidisciplinary undertaking, selectors from across the Library contribute to the strengthening of the film collection. Non-cinematic films (documentaries, ethnographic film, etc.) are generally acquired by the relevant subject or area studies bibliographer.
The film collection is supplemented by several strong campus collections, the University of Film Studies Center, the Center for East Asian Studies' Film Library, the South Asia Outreach Library, and the D’Angelo Law Library’s collection of recreational film on legal themes.
Physical formats included and excluded: All formats are considered. For film, the U.S. NTSC standard is the preferred. The Library purchases films in PAL (European) and rarely, in SECAM (Asian) standards when titles are not available in NTSC. 16 mm prints are considered out of scope for the collection. The library has the capability to play back all DVD standards, VHS, and laser discs. The library is not able to support the use of ¾ video, or beta.
dates collected: Emphasis is
given to the acquisition of current titles, but appropriate earlier imprints
are acquired, when possible, to fill gaps or support new areas of research and
teaching. Rare titles, especially early periodicals, are selected in
collaboration with the Head of Rare Books.
Languages: Titles are chosen for their importance regardless of language, but English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish are preferred. English translations of important works are purchased selectively; French, German or Italian translations of works originally published in languages likely to be less familiar to patrons are also considered selectively. Books, microfilm sets and films published in Eastern Europe, China, Korea and Japan, South Asia, the Middle East and Africa are acquired by the relevant bibliographer.
range: The emphasis is on
titles published in Western Europe, North America and Latin America. Materials
from Africa are acquired on a selective basis, in coordination with the
selector for African Studies.
Chronological span: Titles covering the late 19th-century to the present are collected.
Related University of Chicago collections:
The Special Collections Research Center collects original documentation on motion pictures and the motion picture industry, including archival film and various kinds of memorabilia. Doc Films, celebrating its sixty-ninth anniversary in 2009, is the oldest continuously running student film society in the country. Its archives are also held by SCRC.
The Gerald Mast Film Archive at the University of Chicago Film Studies Center significantly augments the Library’s collection, and its holdings influence our collection development decisions.
Cooperative arrangements and related collections
Other libraries in Chicago that complement the University of Chicago’s film collections include the Video Databank at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (performance art) and Northwestern University’s Marjorie I. Mitchell Multimedia Center, to which students have access. The Chicago Public Library offers hundreds of downloadable, recreational videos to library card holders.