Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries (2018 Revision)

These guidelines were prepared by members of the Guidelines for Media Resources for Academic Libraries in Higher Education Task Force of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL).

They have been revised and supersede the guidelines developed and published by the ACRL Media Resources Committee in 1999, 2006, and 2012.


The task force is established to, following the procedures for the review of Standards found in the ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures Chapter 14: (1) review the GMRAL (2012), (2) review challenges and opportunities brought by media resources and technologies in higher education, (3) recommend community college, college and university libraries the guidelines that represent the best practice to i) develop media collections, services and programs relevant to the library user communities and ii) weave the libraries’ media resources and technologies into the fabric of faculty and students’ teaching, learning and research experience, (4) recommend needed changes to existing guidelines, (5) produce a draft document incorporating these changes, (6) seek comments and input from stakeholder communities and the general ACRL membership, and (7) incorporate, as appropriate, those recommendations into the final draft.


Evolving technology used in teaching, learning, research, and scholarship has created new challenges and opportunities for the stewardship of media collections and services in academic libraries at community college, college, and university libraries.

Moving images, sound recordings, and still images are critically important in teaching, learning, research, and scholarship and academic librarians are working closely to establish cross-institution collaborations with other departments on campus to support faculty and student information needs. Within the current and likely future climate of shrinking budgets and increased focus on digital collections, collaborations will enable libraries to improve access and engage in mission-driven cooperative projects. In some institutions, librarians have become true partners in the delivery of instruction, working with faculty, technologists, and instructional developers to create new learning communities.

Most academic libraries collect physical and streaming media, and these materials are as vital and diverse as any print or text-based academic collection. An academic library media operation may encompass a variety of activities, such as scheduling and managing the delivery of audiovisual equipment to classrooms, operating distance education television studios, offering instructional development and the production of audiovisual materials, and supporting multimedia production. However, this document will address only the core issues related to collecting, maintaining and making accessible media resources and their attendant services.

The earlier versions of the guidelines could not have anticipated the rapid growth and the prevalence of digital media today. The previous versions (1999, 2006, 2012) were written in language that has admirably withstood the test of time, and much of the introductory information and many of the assumptions of the present document draw heavily from the original document. However, there are new areas and variations that need to be addressed. In recent years, rapid changes in scholarly communication have taken place. While electronic publications have increased in number, publications on paper and in other media formats have continued, making it a continuing necessity for librarians to store, provide, and interpret information in multiple formats. As different kinds of scholarly communication continue to increase on the web, libraries will be expected to discern the legitimacy of these innovative approaches and their impact in the greater research community.

Media resources can now be delivered online, within social networks, through streaming media servers, digital satellite systems, and a host of rapidly developing technologies and platforms. Our users are accessing library materials through the most portable of handheld devices through a variety of enticing interfaces. In the past, media librarians were able to focus on a narrow array of formats. Today we must widen the scope of our collection development activities, considering all emerging and evolving digital formats and multimedia, along with analog formats, as they develop.

The media marketplace is complex and evolving rapidly. Media librarians should be advocates for viable new media technologies, expanding their knowledge base to include copyright concerns, licensing issues, and a wide array of digital delivery formats and options. While supporting existing formats, media librarians must assess whether rapidly evolving new formats meet the present and future content and programmatic needs of their institution. We must move more quickly than in the past to incorporate new formats and platforms into our collections to meet new and emerging instructional and informational expectations and needs.

Networked information is a reality, and many digital library initiatives are offering media resources. At the same time, we must be sensitive to the needs of our users and to the pace of institutional change. With resources increasingly being stored in the cloud rather than in a tangible format, librarians must employ acquisition strategies that improve both immediate and long-term access to users. We must also consider the implications contractual agreements have on our ability to use resources in research and scholarship currently and over time. This change can only be done within a context of collaborative relationships involving media personnel, library administrators, computing service personnel, and the users of our media resource collections. We must also communicate effectively with media distributors, streaming media services and independent filmmakers to represent our institutional and user needs.

The increasing availability of large-scale patron driven acquisition (PDA) and evidence-based acquisition streaming services constitutes a foundational shift as to how media resources are selected, cataloged and accessed. Few, if any, institutions have successfully identified a sustainable approach to funding PDA models, which would seem to boundlessly grow along with increasing content availability and user awareness and engagement. Institutions of all types need improved selection features, usage data, and controls within streaming platforms in order to provide for equitable and reliable access. Additionally, vendors should take steps to support institutions in preventing duplicate licensing across streaming platforms.

The goal of these “Guidelines for Media Resources for Academic Libraries” is to present key issues that academic libraries should consider and address in developing media collections, services and programs. These guidelines represent best practice in weaving the libraries’ media resources and technologies into the fabric of faculty and students’ teaching, learning and research experience. Although the guidelines are not a practitioner’s manual or proscriptive doctrine, we hope that they will be helpful to librarians, library administrators, faculty, and media personnel at all levels of the organization who want to improve access to media resource collections and services.


A set of assumptions first prefaced the guidelines in the 1999 edition. We agree that this is a good way to address the similarities between print and media collections. Rather than dwelling on the similarities between print and media collections, we have covered those points in the assumptions. In the guidelines themselves, we have focused on the differences. Furthermore, research and experience over the past 40 years have taught us that some practices are more effective than others in building useful collections and meeting our users’ needs for media-related services. These needs are evolving and the guidelines reflect this knowledge. The recommended guidelines represent best practices for an academic library media program. Collectively, they describe a model media resources program. In this document, “media resources program” refers to all aspects of media resource collections and services in the library.

Assumptions of a Model Media Resources Program

Assumption 1: All academic libraries will collect media resources. Some academic libraries exclude some or all media formats from their collections. However, ACRL standards for academic libraries specify that the library shall provide collections that incorporate resources in a variety of formats. If only one media collection exists on a college or university campus, that collection and its attendant services should be part of the library. The library and its trained staff is uniquely qualified to provide the best access to that collection, both physical and bibliographic. The library is also the most qualified to build planned collections, responsive to both immediate and anticipated programmatic needs. If another administrative unit on campus also collects media, it is assumed that the library will coordinate its efforts with that unit.

Assumption 2: All media resources will be cataloged in accordance with current national standards and practices, including full subject access and classification. Some academic libraries exclude media resources from the online catalog or provide only minimal-level cataloging. Many academic libraries do not classify media resources. These practices could contribute to inadequate access to media collections, especially those in open stacks. Some media materials require more timely cataloging and, thus, should be eligible for rush cataloging and processing.

Assumption 3: All academic libraries will provide adequate funding for media services and collections; “adequate funding” is determined by the library’s goals and objectives for media services and collections. ACRL standards provide evaluative measures for the adequacy of the budget. These measures should be applied to funding for media collections and services.

Assumption 4: The principles of collection management that apply to print and other library collections also apply to media resources. Media collections require policies and procedures for purchase, leasing, renting, deselection, resource sharing, conversion, accessibility for people with disabilities, and licensing.

Assumption 5: The principles of collection preservation that apply to print and other library collections also apply to media resources. The library program for conservation and preservation should encompass both archival and access media collections. Archival collections contain unique or rare materials and should be preserved, with required playback equipment, for as long as possible. Access collections including materials needed for immediate use will increasingly become web-based as the production of physical playback units continues to decrease, rendering physical collections increasingly archival in nature. Media formats and the supporting technology can be susceptible to obsolescence more rapidly than print and other library collections.

Assumption 6: The principles of library service that apply to other library services also apply to media services. Reference and instruction programs should include locating and using appropriate media resources for instruction, research. and scholarship.

Assumption 7: Media formats, delivery, and access mechanisms will continue to evolve and shift at a pace that exceeds print resources. Such shifts necessitate evolving material and equipment budgets, and may be best served by developing partnerships with other information technology units within libraries, across campuses and between institutions


Given the stated assumptions, the specific guidelines for media resource collections and services will assist academic libraries in strengthening their media resources programs. The ACRL Guide to Policies and Procedures Chapter 14: Standards, Guidelines, and Frameworks states:

Guidelines consist of procedures that will prove useful in meeting the standards. In order for a document to be classified as a guideline it must:

1. Be specific to programs, service, or staffing.

2. Identify a framework for developing policies and procedures.

3. Define qualitative criteria; generally exclude quantitative criteria.

4. Identify factors contributing to effectiveness.

5. Incorporate benchmarks by which programs, services and staffing may be assessed.


1.0 Librarians should develop a mission statement for the media resources program based upon the mission statement of the library.

Commentary: A clear, unambiguous statement of the role of the media resources program is essential for planning and evaluation regardless of the organizational structure of the library. Whether or not there is a separate media department within the library, a mission statement is essential to an effective media program. This statement should apply to media resources regardless of source or platform of delivery (whether physical, web-based or published on social networks). The statement should be periodically revised to reflect changing and emerging resources.


2.0 The responsibilities and functions of the media resources program should be clearly defined within the organizational structure of the library. The administration of the library should assign responsibility for the media resources program to librarians.

Commentary: To develop an effective media resources program, librarians should be responsible for planning collections and services, with sufficient additional staff to support the program. Librarians assigned these responsibilities should have adequate knowledge of physical and electronic media formats, licensing and copyright issues, accessibility issues, and other specialized issues prevalent in media collections. They should also be able to clearly articulate the unique and varied uses of media resources in instruction, learning, research and scholarship.

2.1 The librarian(s) responsible for the media resources program should take a proactive role within the institution, beyond the library, working cooperatively and collaboratively with personnel in other media-related units on campus.

Commentary: Most colleges and universities have more than one unit delivering media services. Librarians should actively promote the library’s collections and services among these units and plan cooperative ventures with them as appropriate.


3.0 Librarians responsible for the media resources program should have a graduate degree from an ALA-accredited program in library/information science or equivalent degree or experience.

Commentary: Librarians working with media resources should demonstrate experience and knowledge of technology and expertise in media content and use. A comprehensive understanding of educational media licensing, copyright law, fair use, the Face-to-Face Teaching Exemption, the TEACH Act, and evolving developments regarding copyright and circumvention technology (17 U.S.C. § 1201) is essential for providing library patrons with guidance in the use of media resources.

3.1 Librarians responsible for the media resources program should belong to and participate in media-related professional associations and other professional development activities. The library should fund continuing education and conference attendance.

Commentary: Because of the issues inherent to collecting and delivering media resources, participation in professional organizations and professional development activities is essential. Participation in conferences affords important opportunities to share ideas with other media librarians, attend relevant meetings, and visit with media vendors to explore the latest products, technologies, and services and advocate for distribution models and features that meet our institutional needs.

3.2 Staff working with media resources should have specialized media training and technical expertise.

Commentary: The necessary support staff and their expertise will vary according to the program at each library. However, the skills and responsibilities of the staff should be defined clearly and be updated regularly. Library support staff working with media should also be encouraged to participate in media-related professional associations and professional development activities. The total number of librarians and other staff will vary according to the program at each library.


4.0 The media resources mission statement and collection development policy should inform and direct the budgetary resources allocated to media collections and services and be part of the library planning process.

Commentary: The media resources mission statement and annual objectives form the basis for the program budget. Stable and consistent funding for acquisitions based on an approved collection development policy is necessary for effective service.

4.1 An ample and stable budget for the acquisition of media resources should be based either on a percentage of the total library acquisitions budget or on a formula related to collection use as measured by circulation statistics and electronic resources and streaming media usage statistics.

Commentary: Basing the media resources materials budget on a percentage of the acquisitions budget assures that large academic libraries allocate a reasonable amount of funding to building media resources collections whether in physical or electronic format. Using classroom and individual circulation statistics to determine funding levels for the purchase of media resources assures that a high-use collection will be able to meet the demand for new titles, additional copies of popular titles, and replacement of worn materials. Vendor statistics will also need to be gathered to monitor electronic resources usage. Materials budgets should also be large and flexible enough to support the exploration of new media formats along with physical formats, with additional consideration for annual licensing/hosting costs to support streaming and online resources. Material and equipment budgets for media support may need to fluctuate more frequently than standard print budgets given the ever-evolving availability of formats and access mechanisms.

4.2 Media equipment and adequate bandwidth is essential to providing reliable access to media resources. The library should establish an ample and stable budget for the maintenance and purchase of media equipment.

Commentary: The addition and replacement of equipment should be formally planned and documented. Libraries cannot provide access to media resources without sufficient and well-maintained equipment. The level of funding should be based upon the life expectancy for equipment and in-house use of the collection. A budget plan for media equipment should include the repair and replacement of worn equipment, the need to provide upgrades to existing equipment, and the purchase of additional equipment as user demand increases. The plan should also anticipate the adoption of new technologies and the need to expand support for new kinds of equipment and technology Equipment maintenance and replacement have a major impact on the longevity of collections.

User Services

5.0 The media resources program should provide a variety of services that support and expand the streaming and physical media resources collections.

Commentary: It is expected that libraries will provide circulation and other typical collection services for media collections. Access to media resources may also require a distribution system, group viewing facilities, bookings/reserve capabilities, video streaming and software, hardware, and other equipment required for playback, production, and editing individually and in groups.

5.1 Media resources should be accessible through resource sharing in accordance with the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States.

Commentary: Many libraries treat media resources as special collections and prohibit their interlibrary loan or consortial borrowing. Though some collections are consistently needed in-house for curricular support, library users benefit from the inclusion of media collections in resource-sharing programs. However, there should be sensible consideration for preservation of at-risk, rare, and scarcely held media resources. All physical media formats are susceptible to damage and may be cost prohibitive to replace based on higher education institutional pricing structures. Moreover, physical media items are increasingly out of print as content providers shift to non-physical, “streaming only” distribution models. Streaming media is an unlikely candidate for interlibrary loan as licenses dealing with streaming media often preclude the ability to loan that content. Libraries must use reasonable discretion when deciding whether or not to participate in interlibrary lending and set policies that will promote a preserved, accessible, and well-balanced collection.

5.2 Specialized media-related reference services, in conjunction with appropriate print and electronic reference sources, should be available to assist the students, faculty, and staff in meeting their instructional, informational, and research needs.

Commentary: Users may need specialized assistance in identifying and accessing relevant media resources for use in teaching, learning, and research.

5.3 The necessary equipment to access media resources should be available and maintained to provide ready access to collections.

Commentary: Media collections cannot be used without the necessary playback equipment. While some media collections circulate outside the library, many do not or portions of the collection do not. For circulating collections, users increasingly do not own or have other access to playback equipment. Therefore, every effort must be made to provide and maintain playback equipment to support all collected formats.

5.4 Authentication of users should be easy and seamless, with help available if there are problems.

Commentary: Many resources are available digitally and license agreements make them available only to users from a certain institution. Remote authentication of these users should not be so difficult that it deters use. Library staff should either know how to help or know where to refer users for help.

5.5 Library instruction programs should include the use of media resources for research, along with relevant copyright considerations for education and scholarship.

Commentary: Locating and using media resources is a critical component of library instruction. Library instruction should include visual literacy and comprehensive digital/media literacy. Understanding the legal, contractual and ethical issues pertaining to the use of media resources in instruction, research and scholarship is an integral component of digital/media literacy in higher education.

5.6 Librarians and staff working with media resources should offer assistance to educators who want to integrate the use of media resources into their courses, either as a part of classroom instruction or as supplemental study in the library.

Commentary: Librarians and staff working with media resources should actively promote use of media in teaching by offering services to faculty in locating local media resources for a new or revised course, suggesting ways in which these materials might be used, locating resources available at other libraries or for purchase, and generally assisting in the use of these materials. Instructors may need assistance in incorporating media resources into their teaching and developing course content, including producing clips and stills, as well as how to establish links or embed streaming video in Course Management Systems (CMS). Media personnel should be included on collaborative teams developing new courses.


6.0 The media resources program should make available an organized collection of materials in accessible formats, both in terms of availability and in terms of accessibility for patrons with visual and/or auditory impairments.

Commentary: Libraries should make available media content in formats accessible to the broadest possible spectrum of end users. Libraries should also pursue formats and licensing options that allow patrons to remotely access materials when possible. Access to online resources through library catalog records provides patrons with an easier search path for subscription-based services. Libraries should negotiate licensing options, keeping in mind that a license contract supersedes fair use. Libraries should consider whether a video is captioned as a selection criterion when pursuing purchase. Libraries that caption or audio describe media in response to user needs should make those captioned versions available to independent distributors and filmmakers whenever possible to reduce duplicate efforts and expenses to caption or audio describe media.

6.1 The library should have a written collection development policy statement to serve as the basis for selection and acquisition of media resources.

Commentary: The library’s overall collection development policy may include media resources, but a specific policy is needed to establish priorities and guide selections. Selection decisions are different from format to format. These differences must be described in the collection development and selection policies.

6.2 The selection of media resources materials should be the shared responsibility of librarians specifically charged with building the media resources collection, the subject selectors, and those responsible for university archival collections.

Commentary: The selection of media resources is different from the selection of print materials. Media selection requires the use of specialized review sources and may include previewing of materials under consideration or purchasing on approval. Media selectors need special training and skills. However, subject selectors provide necessary content expertise when considering more specialized media resources. Close collaboration between subject and format specialists is key in developing appropriate selection criteria and budgets for media acquisitions.

6.3 Consortial acquisitions policies should be considered when selecting media items. Commentary: Many institutions are now part of consortia that make recommendations concerning purchases of all items. These consortial policies should include media and ways to share media, taking into account licensing, copyright and accessibility issues. Media should not be treated differently than print items in regards to sharing.

6.4 Media should receive thoughtful attention regarding selection, acquisition, and access regardless of what format the content is in.

Commentary: With capabilities for streaming audio and video, the use of digital media increases with improvements to bandwidth and technological infrastructure. Increasingly, users expect digital or remote access to all media resources. Institutions should provide all the necessary equipment and connectivity to ensure access to multiple media formats on multiple platforms and devices.

6.5 The media resources reference collection should include a wide selection of standard works and specialized reference tools in all formats.

Commentary: Print tools are inadequate to address the informational and technical resource needs of media personnel. Adequate funding is necessary to maintain an up-to-date collection of print and online tools and training materials to support the reference needs of media personnel.

6.6 Locally produced media should be subject to the same collection guidelines as commercially produced resources.

Commentary: Locally produced media materials constitute the intellectual output of an academic institution or region and should be included in collection development guidelines with an eye to ensuring continued access and preservation over time.


7.0 The media resources program should provide adequate space and security for housing collections and the technical infrastructure to allow for playback and/or migration of all collected formats.

Commentary: Open and closed stack models have trade-offs related to access, preservation, and security. Due to their size and lack of theft deterrent device options, media resources present challenges to security causing many libraries to house the collection in closed stacks, often resulting in less flexibility for growth. Stack models should reflect institutional needs and services. Therefore, space allocation planning is essential in ensuring room for future acquisitions. For materials use, libraries should provide playback systems for multiple formats and worldwide standards. Access to online collections should be available both on and off campus through a wide variety of computer and handheld devices.

7.1 Media resources should be available in a variety of playback situations, including a mixture of individual, small group, and large group viewing facilities.

Commentary: While many information sources are designed to be used individually, many media resources are designed to be used in group settings. Libraries should accommodate both individual and group use models.

Bibliographic Access and Cataloging

8.0 Media resources should be made discoverable through the same retrieval mechanisms available for other library materials.

Commentary: Library catalogs should represent the holdings of the library regardless of format, including bibliographic record, holdings, and URL maintenance. Media resources may be unique information sources—-oral/visual histories, classroom observations, simulations, clinical diagnostic techniques, webinars, podcasts, course lectures, and conference proceedings. These materials could be overlooked without proper bibliographic access in library catalogs and/or other means of discovery as used for the rest of the library’s collections.

8.1 Media resources should be cataloged in accordance with current national standards and practices, including full subject access, description, classification, and system and accessibility requirements.

Commentary: Following national standards for cataloging media resources upholds the quality of library catalogs, enhances bibliographic retrieval, and provides necessary information to users about subject content and technical and/or equipment requirements. Bibliographic access points should incorporate subjects, alternate titles, subtitles, translations of titles, series, and persons or bodies responsible for the performance or the primary content of the media resource. When the content requires subject expertise, subject assignment should be made in consultation with appropriate subject specialists. Full cataloging provides the user with optimum retrieval opportunities. Including subtitle, caption, and audio description information in bibliographic records enables awareness of accessibility features.

8.2 Media resources should be cataloged in a timely fashion, with sufficient support for catalogers, equipment, training and bandwidth to ensure that these resources are not backlogged.

Commentary: Generally, media resources have more complex cataloging routines and lengthy bibliographic descriptions than most print resources. They may require viewing in order to complete the cataloging process. They may also have physical characteristics that require unique processing and packaging. Therefore, media resources take more time to catalog and process. Trained professional catalogers with media expertise require access to appropriate cataloging and indexing tools, playback equipment in all formats represented in the collection, and Internet connectivity with sufficient bandwidth. When purchasing streaming media packages, libraries should consider whether MARC records are reasonably affordable in a nationally recognized standard bibliographic format to enable adequate and timely access to these resources without the need for creating hundreds of individual bibliographic records by specialized cataloging experts.

8.3 Summary statements in bibliographic records should supply users with important information about the content and purpose of media resources.

Commentary: Summary statements and/or contents notes should provide the user with descriptive information about the content of media resources and their intended use. This assists the users in determining whether the resource is likely to meet their needs. When the content requires subject expertise, the summary should be written with the assistance of appropriate subject specialists.


9.0 Media items should be systematically vetted for replacement or migration to new formats, while preserving unique, out of print, and scarcely-held items.

Commentary: Worn and damaged materials represent a hazard to playback equipment, particularly audio and videotape, which can shed magnetic particles clogging playback mechanisms and should be handled carefully by library staff with media expertise. Optical disc formats should be cleaned appropriately as necessary to assure proper function and limit damage to the item. A budgetary allocation, apposite to collection use, is necessary to assure timely replacement, preservation or migration of media resources. Libraries should make use of the provisions in Section 108 of U.S. Copyright Law to preserve at-risk materials in a timely fashion and consider documenting their collective efforts, such as for VHS, in the Section 108 Due Diligence Project. Legacy formats of works that are scarcely held, out of print, or unique items should always be vetted before removal and offered to appropriate institutions for preservation and storage.

9.1 Libraries should maintain equipment for playback and transfer of legacy formats, in order to preserve access to content that is jeopardized by changing technologies.

Commentary: As playback equipment becomes obsolete and unavailable, the library should have a plan for preserving content of legacy media. Libraries need access to equipment for the purpose of digitizing analog formats and reformatting obsolete digital media formats. All applicable copyright laws and licensing agreements should be considered when reformatting - see (17 U.S.C. § 108).

9.2 Media resource collections require specialized storage and handling.

Commentary: All media collections require storage in a facility that maintains a constant, normal room temperature with low humidity. The storage area should not be exposed to direct sunlight. For archival collections, a fire suppression system may be desirable to guarantee safe preservation. Media items should be stored in appropriate containers, in the appropriate position for the specific format in question. Library staff should be trained in the appropriate storage and handling of a variety of legacy media formats.

9.3 Media collections and services should have a defined preservation plan.

Commentary: Media librarians should work with the Preservation Department, if available, to define a preservation plan. Information is widely available from National Film Preservation Board and other organizations.

Background on Audiovisual/Media Resources Guidelines

The 2018 “Guidelines for Media Resources for Academic Libraries in Higher Education” are the sixth set of guidelines for audiovisual materials or media resources adopted by ACRL. The Audio-Visual Committee of ACRL published the first “Guidelines for Audio-Visual Services in Academic Libraries” as a 24-page monograph in 1968 (reprinted in 1969). The purpose of the guidelines was “to supply basic assistance to those academic libraries that will assume all or a major portion of an audiovisual program” (p. iv). Since few academic libraries had audiovisual collections at that time, the authors emphasized the demonstrated effectiveness of using audiovisual materials in instruction and provided practical suggestions for developing and maintaining these collections. Early audiovisual collections in academic libraries typically included 16mm films, slides, reel-to-reel audio recordings, and phonograph records.

Nearly 20 years later, the authors of the 1987 “Guidelines for Audiovisual Services in Academic Libraries” noted the extraordinary technological changes that had occurred since the adoption of the 1968 guidelines. By 1987 it was no longer necessary to convince librarians that audiovisual materials are valuable resources for instruction. The forward to the 1987 guidelines noted the potential of audiovisual materials to support research, as well as instruction. The authors of this revision had seen the advent of new formats, such as VHS videocassettes, audiocassettes, laserdiscs, and audio compact discs, which had brought audiovisual materials into a majority of academic libraries. The emerging issues in 1987 were related to adopting new formats and providing equipment and technical support for them. Although CD-ROMs were becoming popular in academic libraries, they were text-only at this time and not a concern to media librarians; multimedia CD-ROMs made their debut around 1990.

The years between 1987 and 1999 marked a revolution in media resource collections and services. During this time media librarians grappled with a major technological development, the introduction of multimedia CD-ROMs. Until the early 1990s, media resource collections, both analog (magnetic tape and phonograph records) and digital (optical discs), were played on a single-use machine. Multimedia CD-ROMs introduced interactive media to the mix. Users required an expensive computer, equipped with a CD-ROM drive, a sound card, and a video card to use most software. Just as media librarians were beginning to grapple with questions regarding where these materials fit into library collections, the Web changed everything. CD-ROM development began to wane as users increasingly expected online access. Despite the tremendous technological barriers to multimedia delivery via the Web, commercial and academic forces worked to bring networked digital multimedia to classrooms and desktops through anywhere, anytime access.

Developing the 2018 Guidelines

The first edition of the “Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries” was approved in 1968, and revised in 1987, 1999, 2006, and 2012. Since the ACRL Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries Task Force that produced the 2012 version was no longer in existence, a new task force was appointed in May 2017. The task force reviewed the 2012 version of the guidelines online to decide whether they should be continued without change, revised, or totally rewritten. It was agreed that the format of earlier editions was still valid, so the task force decided to revise the guidelines.

A draft document was posted on ACRL Insider, with a notice in C&RL News. The Task Force hosted an open forum for discussion Saturday, February 10 at the 2018 ALA Midwinter Conference in Denver. The draft was circulated through Video Round Table communications channels, including the VideoLib, VideoNews, and VRT@ala listservs, as well as the Illinois Association of College & Research Libraries. Commentary was also solicited individually from nationally renowned video librarians and recognized experts in the field of media librarianship who have held leadership roles, published or taught, managed media collections and/or services, presented at conferences, or made other noteworthy contributions.

All comments and suggestions were reviewed by the Task Force through a virtual meeting and a final draft was produced and approved by the Task Force.

A final document was sent to the ACRL Standards Committee on March 28, 2018, for approval. The Standards Committee approved the revision in April 2018 and the ACRL Board of Directors approved on June 25, 2018.

Members of the Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries Task Force responsible for the preparation of this 2018 edition of the guidelines were:

Chair, Gisèle Geneviève Tanasse, University of California, Berkeley;

Jodi Hoover, University of Maryland, Baltimore County;

Mary S. Konkel, College of DuPage;

Laroi Lawton, Bronx Community College;

Steven Milewski, University of Tennessee, Knoxville;


Web Resources (Accessed March 19, 2018)

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ACRL— ACRL Guidelines for Academic Librarians Without Faculty Status. Revised October 21, 2011.

ACRL— Standards for Distance Learning Library Services. Revised June 2016.

ACRL— Guidelines for Instruction Programs in Academic Libraries. Revised October 2011.

ACRL— Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries. Revised October 14, 2011

ACRL— Guidelines for University Library Services to Undergraduate Students. Revised October 2013.

ACRL— ACRL Standards for Faculty Status for Academic Librarians. Revised October 2011.

ACRL— Standards for Libraries in Higher Education. Revised February 2018.

ALA — Access for Children and Young Adults to Nonprint Materials, July 7, 2006.

ALA— Copyright for Libraries: Videos/Movies. Last updated December 4, 2017.

ALA— Distance Education and the TEACH Act, January 13, 2018.

ALA— Digital Millennium Copyright Act .December 26, 2017.

ALA— Library Disaster Preparedness & Response. Last updated October 20, 2017.

ALA — Questions and Answers on Access to Digital Information, Services and Networks. Revised January 2010.

ALA-RUSA —Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States. Revised January 11, 2016

ALA-VRT— Professional Resources for Media Librarians. November 29, 2006.

Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA)— General Resources.

Connecting to Collections Care Online Community, Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation — Caring for Audiovisual Material.

IFLA— Current IFLA Standards (including conceptual models, digital format codes, rules for resource description, and guidelines). Last updated October 27, 2017.— How to Recover Compact Discs and Other Related Media After a Major Flood.

Legal Information Institute— U.S. Code: Title 17-Copyrights.

National Archives— Motion Picture Film Guidance: Emergency Preparation, Response, and Recovery. Last updated April 27, 2017.

National Film Preservation Board, Library of Congress— Resources.

Online Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC)— Online Resources for AV Catalogers.

U.S. Copyright Office § 108. Limitations on Exclusive Rights: Reproductions by Libraries and Archives.   

U.S. Copyright § 1201. Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems.

United States Copyright Office. Circular 21. Reproduction of Copyrighted Works by Educators and Librarians. See Chapter D. Reproduction by Libraries and Archives.  


Audiovisual Policies in ARL Libraries. SPEC Kit 162. Office of Management Studies, Association of Research Libraries, 1990. Documents compiled and SPEC flyer by Kristine Brancolini.

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Brancolini, Kristine, and Rick E. Provine. Video Collections and Multimedia in ARL Libraries. Office of Management Services, Association of Research Libraries, 1997.

Farrelly, Deg. “Streaming Video.” Rethinking Collection Development and Management, edited by Becky Albitz, Christine Avery, and Diane Zabel. Libraries Unlimited, 2014, pp. 215-229.

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Intner, Sheila, and Edward Swanson (contributing editor). Subject Access to Films and Videos, Second edition. Libraries Unlimited, 2011.

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Schopflin, Katharine. Handbook for Media Librarians. Facet Publications, 2008.

Van Bogart, John W. C. Magnetic Tape Storage and Handling: A Guide for Libraries and Archives. The Commission on Preservation and Access, 1995.

Video Collection Development in Multi-type Libraries: A Handbook, 2nd edition, edited by Gary Handman. Greenwood Press, 2002.

Weber, Mary Beth and Fay Angela Austin. Describing Electronic, Digital, & Other Media Using AACR2 and RDA: A How-To-Do-It Manual and CD-ROM for Librarians. Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2011.