Another Readers Advisory

These readers advisories are from another class assignment we had to do in Collection Development, and my cool group chose to develop a collection of travel DVDs for a hypothetical public library in a small town with an active foreign exchange student program. It was nice, because I got to write-up Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, which is my favorite show ever that is not The Golden Girls, anything Jim Henson, MST3K, or originally aired on BBC. (That sentence originally just read “…originally aired on BBC” but then I thought of like a million of my favorite shows. It is wishful thinking because I have been writing my ding dang masters paper for so long that I haven’t gotten to hang out and watch TV and do craft projects in like foreverrrrr, wahhhhhh.)

Globe Trekker – Middle East (2003)

This two-disc set from the travel company responsible for Lonely Planet travel guides provides a great survey of Middle Eastern geography and culture. Several hosts travel through Jordan, Beirut, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait, Dubai, Oman, Israel, and the Sinai, all the while letting viewers in on the local customs, cuisine, entertainment, transportation, and other cultural signifiers they encounter. Globe Trekker episodes have a more intimate feel than many travel series; professional footage is mixed with hand-held clips, and the guides are often talking over their shoulder or shot from eye-level, making it feel as though you are lucky enough to be their travelling companion, rather than a viewer at home. A selection that highlights the beauty in the culture and scenery of Middle Eastern countries seemed particularly important in today’s political climate, so we were happy to find a resource which depicts the beautiful parts of the Middle East without glossing over aspects of the turbulent reality, such as battle torn Kuwait. This set is available for about thirty dollars, and Globe Trekker provides great complimentary content –such as guides to lodging and cuisine–on their website.

Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations (1995-2010)

Although our collection will primarily focus on world travel, it seemed pertinent to include a selection that provides a unique look at the United States. Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations was a program that aired on PBS from 1995 through 2010; the hosts traveled across America, visiting 39 states, in the name of viewing “outsider art” or “folk art”. This is art created because an individual felt the drive to create, (for example, a landscape of concrete dinosaurs in the backyard) in spite of a lack of formal or traditional training. Often overlooked, outsider art can provide a unique glimpse into pockets of distinctly local, charming, and often strange American culture, and the show does an excellent job of exploring these uncharted waters while maintaining an informed, yet humorous and off-the-cuff tone. We considered obtaining a DVD entitled Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations – Eastern Weaseling, because several episodes are devoted to outsider art in North Carolina. DVDs are available through the program’s website (http://www.rarevisionsroadtrip.com/) and at the low cost of $19.95 it was very tempting. However, this DVD has been tabled for the time being. The program’s niche appeal is both a strength and a weakness, and we elected to choose a DVD with broader appeal and geographic range to represent North America. In the meantime, we will recommend patrons take advantage of the opportunity to stream episodes for free via the Kansas City Public Television website.

The National Parks – America’s Best Idea (2009)

Emmy award-winning Ken Burns’ 2009 The National Parks is a six-disc set that tours America’s national parks and brings viewers into their stunningly beautiful scenery, while telling the story of the history of the parks’ inception, creation, the work that goes into maintaining their pristine beauty, and the environmental and cultural preservation they represent. Burns’ signature style mixes historical photographs with beautiful contemporary footage to weave a compellingly told and illustrated narrative across the coastal United States and into Alaska and Hawaii. This set is a good fit for the collection, since it covers a lot of North American geography, it is the work of a renowned director with excellent reviews, it is aesthetically and educationally robust, and it is affordably priced online at less than sixty dollars, bringing costs down to less than ten dollars per disc. Breaking up the set so patrons can borrow the discs individually will broaden the circulation options, and we will also let patrons know that portions of the series may be viewed for free online via the PBS website.

Globe Trekker – Ultimate Australia (2011)

This two-disc Globe Trekker title is an update to 2004’s Globe Trekker – Australia. This DVD set repurposes footage from a previous trip down under while adding new sights and scenes, including the famous “big red rock” Uluru, traditional Aboriginal rituals, historical Port Alfred Prison, and wildlife all over the island and its coasts. Contemporary city life is also visited, via a rousing bachelorette (or “hen”) party and the annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney. As always, Globe Trekker provides an excellent range of topics and locations while making the viewer feel as if he or she is right on sight with the host, and maintaining tone and content that is relevant to viewers of all ages. At about thirty dollars for two discs, this set is also within the price range of our collection budget. Complementary content is also available through the Globe Trekker website.

…price, relevancy, and covering all of the globe were our main considerations. (The portions above only represent my contributions to the project.) What’s that you say? You *declined* to purchase your FAVORITE show for the library’s collection? Yes, yes I did, for the purposes of this project I’m sorry to say I did. Partly, this is because we had to decide on two resources (out of a list of twelve total) that didn’t make the cut. This was the most difficult part of the assignment! As you can see though, we decided The National Parks was a better fit for our population for the first round of collecting. If this was a real scenario, instead of just an exercise for class, I would advocate for Rare Visions to be purchased at the next possible juncture, because it is just that awesome. You should watch an episode or two! As Lavar Burton says, you don’t have to take my word for it…

And, let’s end on this lovely note:

“She said can we get married at The Straaaaaaaaaaand?”

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