Duelling DVD due dates

I am having what is rapidly becoming an argument with TPL managers over due dates for multi-feature DVD sets. I mean things like entire television seasons or 10-DVD Glenn Gould retrospectives. (I’m not talking about something like a feature film with a second DVD of extras and so on. I mean more than one feature in a single package.)

‘Glenn Gould on Television: The Complete CBC Broadcasts 1954–1977’

I maintain what is actually true: In practice, you cannot watch everything contained in one of these sets in a single week. Yet the library acts dumb as a mule and assigns seven-day loan periods to every standalone DVD, no matter what it might contain or how many discs are in the package.

Shall we look at In Treatment?

  • Season 1: 1,290 min. (21½ hours)
  • Season 2: 870 min. (17½ hours)
  • Season 3: 840 min. (14 hours)

To enjoy the full series and return these items on the seventh day, you’d have to watch two to five hours a night for six nights straight. (Did you pick up the discs after work? Then you’ve got five nights.) For Season 3, we managed it, but only by doing absolutely nothing else and gobbling dinner Simpsons-style with the show playing.

My suggestion is straightforward: DVD series (as we could call them) get three-week loan periods. What does the library say?

  • We used to break up sets like these into individual discs, but people had to wait forever for them (and sometimes got them out of order). (Since we don’t do this anymore, why are we talking about it?)

  • If we did what you asked, people would have to wait ever so long for their holds to be filled. (Yeah, and their patience would be rewarded by actually being able to finish them.)

This is a library system that lends 70-minute compact discs, 30-page children’s books, and pedometers for three full weeks. The library already distinguishes DVDs from language-learning DVDs, which indeed get three-week loan periods. If you’re a fast reader, you can borrow a Best Bet and burn through it in a week.

But if you’re a normal person attempting to watch exactly what the library lends you, not only will the library not give you enough time to do so but will ding you a buck a day for returning the item late.

Which is worse, then? Terrible, awful, burdensome waiting periods or having 90% of library patrons frustrated and dissatisfied because it isn’t humanly possible to watch a full TV series in less than a week?

Why can’t the library survey users of these DVD sets and ask them the following?

  • Do you usually/always/sometimes fail to finish everything in the DVD set before you have to return it?

  • Do you return DVD sets late because it’s more important to you to finish the contents than to pay a fine?

  • Which would you be willing to accept – waiting longer on hold for an item but having three weeks to watch it, or getting it sooner but having to watch the whole thing in a single week?

Aren’t those really the issues? And don’t we already know the answers?

Exceptions that prove the rule

I gave up on Call Me Fitz and Spartacus in under five minutes each. Those went right back.

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