People, Tuesday, 30th January 2007
recently published top 10 list of the most popular films on DVD loan from
Clare County Library has revealed a fondness for eclectic, arthouse movies
amongst Clare movie buffs. Gerry Quinn talks to Executive Librarian, Carrie
Stafford, about how the scheme came about.
SINCE the introduction of a film collection at the Clare County Library’s
Ennis branch last May, there have been approximately 5,000 recorded loans.
That’s a lot of movies.
In recent years it has become the policy of many libraries to expand their
services, by providing music and film to their borrowers as well as offering
internet access. Clare County Library makes available free internet access
at each of its 16 branches and three years ago introduced a CD music loaning
scheme at their Ennis branch.
This service has proven enormously popular and now that movies are becoming
available to borrow, it seems likely that library membership will be on
This expansion from solely providing a book borrowing service to fresh
and modern initiatives reflects the changing nature of society as Executive
explains. “People with literacy difficulties mightn’t have
used libraries before. But now we have DVDs, CDs and internet access.
Almost half the borrowers who access the film collection are non-nationals
and we see it as a social inclusion measure as well as providing a service
for those who may not have previously used the print or book service.”
Speaking about the new film collection, Stafford says, “This scheme
is providing something that people were looking for. The service is only
available at the Ennis branch at the moment but we will have films in
Scarriff soon and we hope to have them in Shannon later on in the year.
We started initially in May of last year with about 200 DVDs and we have
been adding to it all along.
“We’ve been very pleased with the response but I suppose the
service has been a victim of its own success because anytime you go there,
there are very few films to choose from, such is its popularity.”
When Stafford set up the service she employed the talents of a West Clare
man to get the programme off the ground. “We were very lucky in
that Dr. Harvey O’Brien, who is from Kilrush and a lecturer at the
centre for film studies at UCD, had published a book on film. He was a
great person to get on board and he’s got an amazing knowledge.
We drew up a list of maybe 200 - those that would be recognised as groundbreaking
in their particular genres,” she says.
But one of the teething problems encountered was the issue of censorship.
“We have to get a list together before we actually order the DVDs.
Then we submit that list to the film censors. They then get back to us
and advise us if they have been censored. If not, they advise what certification
they’ve been given.”
Almost eight months after the start-up of this welcome initiative, the
staff at the De Valera Library at Harmony Row in Ennis have published
a Top 10 On Loan list of their most popular movies.
Foreign or non-Hollywood productions feature prominently on the listing.
At the top of the chart sits Once Upon a Time in China, directed by Huang
Feihong. Described in the Virgin Film Guide as “a virtual non-stop
festival of kung-fu display”, the film tell the story of a Chinese
folk hero Wong Fei-Wong and his fight against foreign forces. Hong Kong-based
superstar Jet Li plays the lead part in this acclaimed motion picture.
A second Hong Kong production, the thriller, A Bullet in the Head, is
also amongst the most popular films borrowed. City of God, a Portuguese
film set in Brazil, made it to number three. Filmed in the slums of Rio
De Janeiro, this violent but striking movie is the true story of a young
man who grew up on the city’s mean streets.
Europa, Europa, a German production, set during the Nazi period, was also
a popular choice and holds the number six spot.
The remaining movies on the top 10 list were all produced in the US. Three
Kings, an anti-war film starring George Clooney, was the second most popular
choice of library users during the second half of last year. The 2004
remake of the thriller The Manchurian Candidate, originally produced in
1962, reached number four and Woody Allen’s comedy Husbands and
Wives reached number five. Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven represented
the Western genre in the top 10 while dramas Magnolia, starring Tom Cruise
and Julianne Moore, and the Todd Solondz-directed Happiness complete the
And there’s more to come. According to Stafford, “We have
about 500 films in the branch at the moment but we got in a couple of
hundred new ones over the last few weeks and we are processing and cataloguing
them at the moment.”
So keep the popcorn popping because Clare County Library won’t be
running short of DVD offerings any time soon.
Membership of Clare County Library is €5 per year for adults. Children
and secondary school students are free. Family membership costs €10.
Eight items allowed at a time, including one DVD per person.