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The MLA Educational Media & Technologies Section: A Twenty-Five Year History


Throughout the rest of the 1970's there were more lively discussions, specifically, concerning a comprehensive "AV-in-Print" data base." HSAG became involved in the AVline project from 1976-1977. By July 8, 1976, Bruce Ardis, Chair of HSAG Ad Hoc Committee on AVline, in a letter to Joseph Leiter, Associate Director of Library Operations at NLM, expressed the dissatisfaction of media professions regarding AVline.

"A more complete media file is needed rather than the present evaluative system which is too small, takes too long to create, and drops a significant percentage of titles recommended for evaluation. We further recommend that AVline make an aggressive attempt to include all media titles in the health sciences on its data base." [fulltext]

In response, Mr. Leiter of NLM did give a variety of reasons for the difficulties with AVline. Among those:

"the preponderance of materials were either out-of-date or very poor," "file difficulties were not due to the evaluation procedure, but...because of the logistics of selection and processing," [and] "reluctance of producers to make material available...." "...NLM is firmly committed to announce media titles that have had an evaluation...." I regret that we cannot at this time give any further consideration to your suggestion that we abandon the peer review system....and invest a considerable manpower and cost in acquiring and cataloging media of little or dubious value." [fulltext]

With audiovisual materials being labeled as "ephemeral" and "of little or dubious value," it doesn't take a stretch of the imagination to understand why our early HSAG felt that a bias existed at the upper most levels of our profession. If NLM considered media to be of "dubious value," the early work on AVline must have reflected the same value. Obviously, the terms chosen to describe our vocation did not reflect the current desire to be politically correct. I would also like to point out that audiovisual/software "evaluation" is no longer an AVline practice at NLM. The author feels that it is possible to assume that producers did not look too kindly upon this policy either.

For more information about AVline, please see the special page devoted to this topic under the Memories section of this web site. -- Editor's note.

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