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Waidner-Spahr Library

Collections Guidelines: Films

Library Film Acquisitions Policy

The library acquires documentaries, feature films, and TV series which are required viewing in specific courses, at the request of faculty. Liaison librarians also select a small number of films which are likely to be of wide interest to the Dickinson community for curricular, co-curricular, or recreational viewing.

The preferred format is DVD NTSC Region 1, but if not available, other options will be investigated for course support.  For non-English films the library will attempt to find a version with English subtitles, but this may not be possible.  Labels on the DVD case and notes in the catalog record will indicate if a film requires an international DVD player, and if it lacks English subtitles.

The Library purchases performance rights for many (though not all) individual documentaries in the DVD collection.  If a library DVD has performance rights, it will be noted in the full catalog record for the film. Feature films purchased by the library rarely come with performance rights.  See Copyright & Scholarly Communication: Films and Performance Rights for more information.

How Do I Request a Film?

Please allow 2 weeks for the library to acquire U.S. films, and 6-10 weeks for non-English films.

Faculty may request specific films for course use by contacting their liaison librarian.
Please provide the following information (web links forwarded to us often do not work):

  • film title, title in English if applicable, director, year released
  • any special version requests (e.g., director's cut)
  • for non-English films, is a version without English subtitles acceptable, if we cannot find a version with English subtitles?
  • the course(s) for which the film will be used
  • date the film is needed

We may be able to borrow a copy from another library or the vendor if you want to preview a film before making a purchase recommendation. If the library already has a film, faculty can place it on reserve and "book" it for a specific class showing date using the online form on the Faculty Reserves Services page.

Representatives of official Dickinson administrative units, groups or clubs may request that the library acquire documentary films for co-curricular showings by contacting a liaison librarian or emailing Please provide: film title, English title if applicable, director, film release date, intended use of the film, and when it is needed. Note that the library cannot guarantee that we will be able to obtain a film for co-curricular showings.

What about Streamed Films?

The library provides access to several large streaming video collections for current Dickinson students, faculty and staff (login may be required, even on campus). 

The library cannot provide access to streamed content that is only made available to the individual consumer market (e.g., iTunes, NetFlix, Hulu, VuDu, etc.).  In some cases the library may be able to acquire a DVD version of the film, but individuals desiring access to the streamed version may need to rent, purchase or subscribe directly through the online service.  The site “Can I Stream It” shows multiple options for individual streaming rental and purchase for specific films. 


The library has a legacy collection of nearly 5,000 films in VHS format, although many of these titles are also available on DVD and/or in one of our streaming collections.  If the library only has a film on VHS that is needed for course use, faculty may contact their liaison librarian and request that a DVD version be acquired, if possible.