In one of his first major acts as Senator at Large, Timothy Lewis pushed for the SGA funding of Bear DVDs to be cut, which means that the $500 that annually funded the program can now be used for other student concerns.
Bear DVDs are the movies and shows in Tarver Library’s DVD section that have a bear paw on the spine, signifying that they were bought with SGA funds for the student body since 2007. These DVDs made up 7 percent of the total collection, according to Tarver’s records, .
“We’re just trying to make the most of our money,” Lewis said on behalf of the Academic Affairs Committee. He said that the money being spent on the program could be more effective elsewhere, especially since the majority of the Bear DVDs aren’t being used very much.
The program originally started when Akeem Anderson was president of SGA in 2007.
“Pre-Netflix, pre-Hulu, students were interested,” said Theresa Rhodes, the associate director for Public Services & Collections at Tarver Library, “so it was a way for providing some recreational entertainment.”
Even now, the whole DVD section sees a lot of use. Rhodes said that this year was the first in six or seven years where DVDs weren’t the most popular item to check out.
“They are still heavily used, especially on Saturdays. Our circulation staff will see students tumble out of bed, 1 p.m., 2 p.m., come in, check out an armload of DVDs and go back to their dorm,” she said.
The movies are also used for long distance trips like Pilgrimage to Penfield or, in some cases, the ride to away games. Rhodes said that, on multiple occasions, the women’s basketball team checked out “Scandal” to watch on the way.
However, Lewis said that many of the Bear DVDs in particular aren’t being used.
“87 percent of them — which is 278 (Bear) DVDs — have been checked out three or less times this year, and 62 percent of that has been checked out one or zero times,” Lewis said, reading off from Tarver’s Bear DVD circulation records.
There were, however, those DVDs that were checked out over and over again. According to Tarver’s records, the top Bear DVDs that Mercer students have sought out in 2014-2015 so far are “Frozen,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Bridesmaids” and “Limitless.”
In the wake of this legislation, the question remains if anything will change, as far as those DVD offerings and access for students.
Tarver Library and SGA both said that nothing will be different moving forward. The Bear DVDs will stay on the shelves, and new DVDs will be added to the general collection.
“I’ve got great support staff in the library that are monitoring awards,” said Rhodes. “Oscars that have come out, what was nominated, so that we make sure that we get some of those critical titles.”
Students can also suggest titles directly to the library by emailing Rhodes through a request form found on the website, or they can contact SGA with their ideas.
There are also other options for movie-watchers on the horizon. Beth Hammond, Dean of Libraries, said that, just like options have evolved in the past few years – from VHS to DVD to Netflix – they will continue to change. She said that it’s hard to know the nature of those options, but that ultimately, they will do their best to serve Mercer students.
“We’re here to serve students, primarily,” Hammond said. “Their student academic success, their satisfaction with Mercer is foremost. This Bear DVD program was a great partnership, but like a lot of things, has run its course. It’s time for us to move on to something else.”