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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 or co-curricular viewing.

For films not already available in the streaming collections the library provides, the preferred format is DVD NTSC Region 1. If a film is not available through existing library streaming collections or in DVD format, other options will be investigated for course support, but not all films are available for the library to acquire.  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).  If you are looking for a specific film, please first check Academic Video Online and Films on Demand. Those databases provide unlimited subscription access; use of the same film in Kanopy may result in additional charges for the library.

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.).  Check your individual terms of service for permitted uses. 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 and check the terms of service for allowed uses.  The site “Can I Stream It” shows multiple options for individual streaming rental and purchase for specific films. 

Also see the library guide to Films and Performance Rights.

Can I use Roku, Chromecast, etc. to view library streaming film collections?

It the particular library streamed service is compatible with a device, you will be able to view library films that way ONLY from off-campus.  Check information on the particular streaming service website for more information.  

These sorts of devices are NOT usable on campus. Dickinson uses secure Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) standard which requires both a username and password to connect.  This prevents some consumer devices (which are designed for home networks requiring only a password/key) from connecting.

Devices that will NOT work on campus: 

  • Amazon Fire stick 
  • Amazon Alexa 
  • Amazon Echo 
  • Amazon Dot 
  • Apple TV 
  • Facebook Portal 
  • Google Chromecast 
  • Google Home 
  • Nvidia Shield TV 
  • Roku (all current models) 

Please note this is not a comprehensive list. 


The library has over 8,000 DVDs, as well as a legacy collection of nearly 5,000 films in VHS format.  Visit the "Find Films" webpage to search for both DVDs and VHS films in the library collection.  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. 

DVD playing devices are available for loan.  Ask at the main library Circulation Desk of contact for more information.

What about Blu-Ray?

The library tries to purchase regular DVD format, because that format is playable in most "smart" classrooms on campus.  If a film is only available in Blu-Ray format, or if a professor specifically requests Blu-Ray format for a course-related film we will accommodate that if possible.  Please note that as of August 2019, these are the only classrooms on campus with Blu-Ray players:

Classrooms with Blu-Ray players that can only play region “A” (North America & Japan):

  • Bosler 208
  • Tome 115
  • Stafford Auditorium
  • A "loaner" region "A" Blu-Ray player may be reserved/borrowed from the Media Center

Classrooms with multi-region Blu-Ray players:

  • Alt House 106
  • Weiss 235
  • A "loaner" mult-region Blu-Ray player is on order by Academic Technology/Media Center Nov. 2019

There are currently no Blu-Ray players available in the Library.