CARLISLE — The video rental chain store is vanishing, but Bosler Memorial Library is working to make it easier for residents to rent DVDs of recently released movies instead of joining a waiting list.
Cate Mellen, the library’s adult programming coordinator, said people can now rent new, popular DVDs for three days for $2. If a patron keeps the DVD longer than the three-day period, the person will be fined $2 each day it’s late — the same penalty for borrowing other DVDs.
The program, called Fast Track Films, started in March, but wasn’t publicized until the end of the month because Mellen said they wanted to ensure the system worked.
The program is now up and running and library visitors can choose from the titles sitting on the shelf in the lobby. There are no reserves and no renewing, Mellen said.
Since its inception about a month ago, the library has rented out more than 60 of the brand new DVDs, with a third of those in the last week after publicizing the program internally, Mellen said.
“So far we’ve had a pretty good response to the program,” she said. “There are some people that will put their name on the list for all the movies as they are released but then they might get frustrated and not want to wait the six months, so they will go and rent somewhere else or they’ll do Netflix or buy themselves a copy. This way we’ve had a lot of people that say they really appreciate this because they don’t have to wait but they can still support the library instead of paying some larger company.”
These new movies will also be available in the regular collection, so they will still be available on the waiting list.
Mellen said she hopes the library’s new program will give residents another option to Redbox, Netflix and Amazon Prime for getting movies.
“We’re not taking anything away from people who want to do it the traditional way by waiting sometimes six months for a title to come in,” Mellen said. “But this is just an additional opportunity for people. There’s no video store in town anymore, except those Redbox (kiosks) ... It was really to meet increased demands because even before the video stores closed, we were seeing more and more people were using the library for DVDs. But we didn’t have an increase in funding, so this allows us to meet that demand.”
The movies that are available through the program include “American Hustle,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” “Frozen,” “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity.” When new movies are released, which are mostly on Tuesdays, the library could add the movie to the Fast Track collection.
However, Mellen said the library will look at a number of factors before designating a DVD for the program, and the number of copies for each film in the program varies.
“We basically decide which titles are going to go in the Fast Track collection by looking at the box office returns for the movie when it was released,” she said. “Also, when we get the Library of Congress data for a film and we order it, it goes into the catalog right at that time but it’s still on order. As soon as it goes into the catalog, people can start putting requests on it, so sometimes by the time it’s released, it’s got 100 holds on it, so we’ll look at that list as well. If it’s something that has 50 or more holds on it, but we hadn’t thought to buy one because of the returns, we’ll buy another one.”
Even though the library is mostly a place where items can be borrowed free of cost, Mellen said she doesn’t see a problem with having an option to pay for something that is in high demand. Some libraries in other counties in the state charge its users to borrow any DVD for a week, instead of just the new releases — and some for all movies released in the past six months, Mellen said.
The future is not certain for the Fast Track program, however Mellen said they will judge whether it continues or if it gets canceled. She said because libraries are having harder and harder times with funding, the Fast Track will also help add some money back into the budget so it can continue to offer new and updated services.
“The money goes back into our operating costs,” she said. “So far (it’s just for the general fund) but as we gauge how successful the program is, they might decide to earmark it toward something specific like sustaining itself, so we’ll see how it goes.”