Did you know that the Saskatoon Public Library loans movies and TV shows on DVDs? Part of me thinks the place needs to advertise itself a whole lot better. I frequently run into people who have no idea free movies are there for the borrowing. It’s fiddly work for an employee to add a card into the database but it’s all made easier when the patron who wants the card carries ample ID. I have no idea how people can get anything done when they wander around so “incognito.” What if they were in some terrible accident that knocked them out or, worse, killed them outright? CSI-Saskatoon doesn’t exist. Nobody’s going to eyeball their shoelaces and know that only one store in the world stocks those shoes and it just happens to be in town and just happens to keep detailed records about buyers…
But I digress. Library cards are free for everyone. There’s no good reason not to have one. Everyone local should stop at a branch and get one this summer if they don’t have one yet and use the library as much as possible or else some politician will try to declare it a derelict operation better left unfunded and succeed. Libraries are still valuable sources of information and not everyone can afford their own computers or internet or want to. Not everyone wants to own books, movies, or music either so it’s nice to have a place to come to borrow some for a while and return them and get different ones. It’s still a terrific system. There are all kinds of programs going on every day, too, like story time or board game days or activities aimed at seniors. We’re also getting into the video games, kids, so now’s a good time to sign up!
Not only are the cards free, but they’ll work in every city/regional library in the province. Stop in any public library and you can sign up for a card useable in Regina, Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Prince Albert and all surrounding areas. People who officially reside in other provinces but are living here short term for work can also apply for a temporary card that will let them borrow a limited number of items per library visit but give them an all access pass to our internet resources 24/7. We also offer single visit cards for travelers who are merely stopping by to check email or whatever.
So, onto the actual question. When libraries buy materials like DVDs, we’ll add stickers to the cases indicating the rating level the product itself advertises on the back of the box somewhere. The symbols are always on the back, but sometimes very small and hard to read. If you look and you still can’t find one, then the item is considered Not Rated. The bulk of the collection falls under Not Rated and General. This will be stuff anyone can borrow; kids, teens or adults. Most informational DVDs fall here, as do TV shows from earlier decades and anything specifically aimed at children. Canada’s rating system differs a little from the States sometimes, though, and something that might have an American rating that limits the viewing audience might wind up with an NR sticker here. (This often happens to films produced by non-English companies. They might not be intended for children but no group in Canada has rated it so the NR sticker is what we have to use.)
It’s been a while since I bothered to watch it but I think the CSI television series gets a 14A rating. This means it’s not intended for viewing by people younger than 14. That’s different than PG, which is going to be stuff that kids can watch if their parents or other adults are going to be in the room with them. There might be the odd episode or season given 18A which means no one younger than 18 should be watching it. We put the rating on the item and set up the item in the database with a code that will check the birthday listed on the card against the rating listed for the item. A card-carrying 12-year-old will be automatically blocked from borrowing anything with a 14 or 18A rating. Libraries don’t police whole families though. If a parent borrows it, who knows if they’ll let their kids watch it. We are only bound by law not to loan it to the kid directly.
Funnily enough, there’s a loophole no one really noticed until recently. For the past few years we’ve had a collection called “Hot Titles.” These are popular items that people can’t request or renew but can take out for a week if they’re smart enough to grab them as soon as they see them. The database coding for the DVDs in that collection never got written to take ratings into consideration. A parent came forward recently to complain about a movie the library loaned their child although it wasn’t age appropriate. I don’t know how that slipped by everyone. That’s the trouble with the obvious sometimes, though.