Butler Media Research Collection


1. History and Overview of the Collection

The Butler Media Research Collection was established in 1996 under the stewardship of the Librarian for Butler Media, Film Studies & Performing Arts. The collection is comprised of commercially-released moving image content in available formats. The collection directly supports the research and curricular needs of Columbia University and includes feature films, documentaries, animated films, performance adaptations, television programming, and video art. The collection spans the history of filmmaking, from early to contemporary cinema, and represents American and international cinema. The collection is also strong in American television programming. 

The main selector for the collection is the Librarian for Butler Media, Film Studies & Performing Arts with contributions from subject selectors as appropriate. The collection represents an evolution of moving image formats. The videocassette tapes are located in the Libraries’ shared off-site storage facility (ReCAP). The collection numbers more than 10,000 items. The majority of the collection is housed in Butler Library and is comprised of other formats, primarily DVDs and Blu-ray discs. ReCAP’s film vault also houses a collection of 16mm and 35mm film prints. 

2. Academic Departments and Programs Supported

The Butler Media Research Collection supports most schools and programs at Columbia University. The School of Social Work maintains an independent media collection. The Butler Media Research Collection provides primary support to the Film and Media Studies program within the School of the Arts. With the establishment of the Butler Media Research Collection, the campus experienced a significant increase in the number of courses with a film component. 

a. Undergraduate

Columbia College (CC) and General Studies (GS) support undergraduate majors in film and media studies. The collection broadly supports the research and curricular needs of all other degree programs. 

b. Graduate and Professional Schools

Columbia University supports several graduate degrees with a focus on film through the School of the Arts, School of Journalism, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The collection broadly supports the research and curricular needs of all other degree programs. 

c. Interdisciplinary Studies

Film studies and related courses are offered through the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALAC), Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African studies (MESAAS), Department of French and Romance Philology, Department of Italian, Department of German, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Department of History, and Department of Anthropology. 

d. Course Reserves 

Films required for course screenings or review are requested and ordered through reserves or forwarded to the media librarian or appropriate subject specialist for purchase. 

3. Selection Guidelines

a. Print 

Not applicable. 

b. Digital Collections 

Columbia University Libraries has adopted the policy of licensing streaming video content for the Columbia community and in support of course reserves. Streaming video is acquired through database purchase or subscription. Individual titles are licensed only if requested for course reserves. 

Streaming video collections represent a wide range of moving image content, including silent film, feature films, world cinema, news programs, newsreels, recorded performance, and a substantial collection of documentaries. Select databases include: Silent Film Online, World Cinema Video Collection, PBS Collection, Theatre in Video, Opera in Video, Dance in Video, Caribbean Studies in Video: the Banyan Archive, Ethnographic Video Online, Docuseek2 Collection, The March of Time, Digital Theatre Plus: the Best of British Theatre in Your Classroom, Routledge Performance Archive, and others. 

c. Media

There is no approval plan for media; all titles are firm ordered through various distributors. Faculty and students can request titles for purchase. The majority of titles added annually are proactively collected. 

d. Languages Collected 

Films are collected in all available languages. 

e. Chronological Focus 

The chronological focus for the content of the Butler Media Research Collection includes films produced from the earliest days of cinema, the silent era, through the Golden Age of Hollywood, global cinema, and contemporary cinema in all genres. 

f. Geographical Focus 

The geographical focus is American and international. 

g. Imprint Dates Collected 

The main focus of collecting is current. Rare or unique materials from any period may be considered. 

4. Distinctive and Special Collections

Not applicable.

5. Collection Strategies

a. Consortia and Collaborative Collecting with Other Institutions 

The videocassette collection numbering more than 10,000 items is located at ReCAP. South Asian DVDs are located in ReCAP. The Butler Media Research Collection in DVD and Blu-ray formats are located on campus in Butler Library. The Movie Place (purchased) and Kim’s Video (gift) collections remain partially unprocessed at ReCAP.       

b. Location Decisions and Selection for ReCAP 

The videocassette collection numbering more than 10,000 items is located at ReCAP. South Asian DVDs are located in ReCAP. The Butler Media Research Collection in DVD and Blu-ray formats are located on campus in Butler Library. The Movie Place (purchased) and Kim’s Video (gift) collections remain partially unprocessed at ReCAP.    

c. Deaccessioning

Titles are deaccessioned in cases where the physical copy is no longer playable and beyond repair. 

d. Preservation

DVD preservation copies can be made from commercially-released videocassettes that are no longer in distribution in DVD format. 

contact information


NANCY FRIEDLAND

Librarian for Butler Media, Film Studies, & Performing Arts
  • Humanities & History
(212) 854-7402
Butler Library - 309 Butler Library

Related subject policies and references:

Gifts-In-Kind Policy

Columbia University Libraries Preservation Policy

Last updated: January 2019