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Indiana University Bloomington

Black Film Center/Archive College of Arts and Sciences

Collection Development Policy

Collection: Media
Special Collection Library: Black Film Center/Archive

ACRL Guidelines for Media Resources in Academic Libraries



The Black Film Center/Archive (BFC/A), is a repository of films and related materials by and about African Americans, the peoples of Africa, and the African diaspora. Included are films which have substantial participation by black people as writers, actors, producers, directors, musicians, and consultants, as well as those which depict some aspect of the black experience.

The purpose of the BFC/A is to support the instructional and research needs of Indiana University faculty, students, researchers, and the general public in an academic environment as well as, on-site visitors. The media collection includes materials in nine audiovisual formats: audiocassettes, 3/4" (U-matic) videocassettes, Beta videocassettes 1/2" VHS videocassettes, DVDs, 8mm, 16mm and 35mm film prints, and laser videodisc. However, only three of these formats are currently being purchased: 1/2" VHS videocassettes, 3/4" (U-Matic) and 16mm film prints.

Media includes, but is not limited to, collections of spoken word audiocassettes, both educational videorecordings and feature films by independent black filmmakers, and a donation of various 16mm film prints by major motion picture studios such as MGM/United Artists, Paramount and Warner Brothers. Popular feature films, such as one might expect to find in a video rental store, are purchased upon the request of an instructor to support classroom instruction or by the director for archival preservation and research. Instructional materials, defined as meeting the narrow objectives of one particular course, are excluded. These materials are often an integral part of classroom instruction, analogous to laboratory materials, and should be purchased by the department. The audiocassette collection excludes music.


  • Languages:
    • Video and Film Print: English and any other language with English subtitles. The purchase of foreign language productions without subtitles shall be avoided but not excluded and housed with the video collection.
    • Audio: English language materials predominate, but no language is excluded.
  • Chronology: Priority is given to documentary programs produced within the past ten years. Older programs will be purchased only when they are classic titles or when it has been determined that no more recent production offers the save level of coverage--in terms of content or quality. There are no chronological guidelines for the purchase of feature films.
  • Geography:
    • Video and Film Print. Although the collection includes materials produced throughout the world, most must be obtained through United States distributors due to compatibility problems. Programs must be in the NTSC standard; however, the BFC/A can and does support programs in PAL and SECAM standard provided the existing viewing equipment is in excellent working condition.
    • Audio: Materials from any country can be purchased, but materials produced in the United States predominate, due to availability.


  • Inclusions: Videocassettes in the 1/2" VHS format (NTSC/PAL/SECAM), 3/4" (U-Matic) videocassettes, and Beta videocassettes; 8mm, 35mm, and 16mm film prints, laserdisc, DVDs (multi region), and audiocassettes.


Videorecordings purchased on the BFC/A's general operating expense and foundation accounts are housed in the BFC/A facility, along with other videorecordings.

Videorecordings donated to the BFC/A are housed in the BFC/A, along with other videorecordings.

8mm, 35mm and 16mm film prints donated and purchased on the BFC/A's general operating expense and foundation accounts are housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF) on the Bloomington campus.


The video library of the Main Library located in the Undergraduate Section houses a large collection of audiocassettes, 3/4" (U-Matic) videocassettes, 1/2" VHS videocassettes, DVDs and laser videodiscs. Videos, DVDs and laserdiscs are accessible to both students and faculty. The main library partakes in interlibrary loan. The Main Library also has a large collection of 16mm educational films that are available for viewing by faculty, students, and the general public.

The Archive of African American Music and Culture houses a small collection of 1/2" VHS videocassettes related to early and contemporary African American music as well as a collection of music audiocassette.

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction has a collection of erotic/pornographic films that constitutes a unique resource for research. However, access is restricted.


With the direct approval from the Director of BFC/A, the archivist selects video and audio for purchase from a number of sources: reviews, previews (television broadcasts, film festivals, film markets), catalogs and faculty. The archivist will purchase any faculty request that falls within the collection development policy and for which adequate funds exist. If the archivist does not purchase the title on the BFC/A's general operating or foundation account, s/he will explore rental sources and other library fund managers who may be willing to purchase the title. Once an item has been determined to fall within the collection parameters, it is evaluated according to the following specific criteria:

  • Subject matter
  • Accuracy/authoritativeness
  • Timeliness of information
  • Level of treatment (analytical vs. descriptive)
  • Technical quality
  • Aesthetic appeal
  • Relative cost

The archivist makes every effort to assure acquisition of the best audio and video materials available. S/he relies on critical reviews for most selections. However, the archivist may request a preview copy from the distributor when: 1) the title has not been reviewed; or 2) the evaluations of two or more reviewers conflict.

All final purchases are subject to approval by the Director or Acting Director of BFC/A, who reserve the right to purchase and return to a distributor materials that do not meet expectations with regard to content or quality.


FILMS: Films are purchased on DVDs. The BFC/A does purchase DVDs from around the world and has equipment to play any region DVD. Classrooms on campus, with the exception of the BFC/A's classroom, do not support multi region DVD formats.

The film collection supports courses in Film Studies as well as a variety of other disciplines. Therefore, the collection includes the works of recognized directors and significant individual titles from the perspective of film scholarship. However, it also includes films that may never be recognized for their excellence but they contribute to teaching in other disciplines, such as history, sociology, anthropology, and English. Many foreign films in the collection are used by courses with interdisciplinary subjects. The film collection reflects these various uses.

Selection of titles is made on the basis of reviews, faculty and director recommendations. As the collection reflects the research interests of the faculty as well as their instructional needs, some filmmakers and some genres are collected more comprehensively than others. The archivist gives priority to films being taught in classes; faculty are encouraged to submit their course syllabi to ensure that films being taught are available in the library's collection.

Popular, current release videorecordings of feature films are purchased only upon the recommendation of the director and faculty, with the assurance that they will be used for research.



Policies & Procedures