What challenges does your library face? Managing multimedia collections

Today’s guest post comes to us from Leo Ma, ILN Ambassador to Hong Kong. Leo shares with us the challenge of managing a collection with shrinking use, something that may affect any subset of our collections. Thanks for the contribution Leo!

JULAC - image provided by the author

JULAC – image provided by the author

Multimedia Collection: Dying, Surviving or Developing?

Do you have any idea how the multimedia collection in your library is being used? A very common response is that the collection is less and less popular among library users. The most extreme comment that I ever heard is probably the one saying that the multimedia collection is dying!

Being a multimedia librarian, I have to say that this perception is certainly alarming to our profession. In April last year, all eight government-funded academic libraries in Hong Kong (in short JULAC Libraries) conducted a survey on the usage of their AV collections in the past five years from 2009/2000 to 2013/2014. The result indicated that the usage reached the top in 2010/2011 and has been decreasing ever since then. In just four years, the usage was decreased by more than 42%! We also discussed the possible futures regarding the provision of multimedia service in response to this very challenging situation and came up with a list of actionables including:

  • Shift the existing old media formats such as audio-cassettes, laser disc, video-cassettes, etc. to online format
  • Purchase online media resources as the prefer option
  • Provide users with state-of-the-art multimedia technology including both hardware and software to support multimedia production
  • Repurpose multimedia provision from collection driven to service driven by setting up multimedia production lab
  • Collaborate with local TV broadcasting agencies to digitize their programmes

If you are interested in the above discussion, please click here for more details. The list above is by no mean exhaustive in response to the challenges of providing multimedia collection and service today. You may come up with your own list of actionables to fit your local context. Here are the questions for you: Is the multimedia collection of your library dying, surviving or developing? Do you see any opportunities in meeting these challenges?

Leo F.H. Ma is Head of New Asia College Ch’ien Mu Library & United College Wu Chung Multimedia Library. He is also the ILN Ambassador of Hong Kong. 

Are there areas in your collections that are used less than others? What, if anything, can you do about that? How do you know when to promote an underused collection, and when to start reducing the resources allocated to it, or consider reducing the collection? We’d love to hear about how you deal with these challenges, and other challenges that you face. You can discuss with your ILN partner or join in the wider conversation here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook using #interlibnet.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2016B and tagged , , , , , .


  1. In present scenario the multimedia material has become part and parcel of Library system. The proper organization of such material and it’s technical processing have some critical issues for example it’s classification is difficult if the material contained mor interdisciplinary topics. it creates issue of it’s location in stack. If the library has a computerized system then keywords system can make it easier. It’s maintains is another issue based on it’s type of storage device or media. Copyright issues are also critical,if the multimedia material is issued for its use at home,it can be copied and the rule can be violated. The advance technology have both benefits and drawbacks.

  2. Thanks Abdulmajid for sharing the challenges in his library. l am sure we can always learn from each other in managing the multimedia collection. A very good starting point is to engage in professional activities and dialogue such as the IFLA Audiovisual and Multimedia Section (http://www.ifla.org/avms). They have developed the Guidelines for Audiovisual and Multimedia Materials in Libraries and other Institutions (http://archive.ifla.org/VII/s35/pubs/avm-guidelines04.htm) which is still a very useful reference though it is not very up-to-date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *