Saturday, July 03, 2004

Muse-brary? Lib-seum? Holy Mass Media, Batman!

The Museum of Television and Radio is a treasure trove of bleary-eyed viewing pleasure for the boob-tube addicted. While termed a "museum," MTR could just as rightfully be called a library. And as a library, it faces some of the same challenges as its more traditional, paper-based brethren:

  • Collections are incomplete. Some of the true gems of television history were never saved.
  • Computer systems are inadequate. Users report the systems at MTR are slow and finicky, particularly when show titles are involved.
  • Access to outside resources is problematic. Patrons of MTR don't have access to the Internet, so tools like IMDB are not available to researchers. And the MTR site itself does not offer its catalog online.
  • Access is restricted by time and resources. Inquiries for information are only fielded between 4:00 p.m. and 5:45 p.m.
  • Copyright is a big issue. The museum has many items in its collection that are no longer shown on television because of the high cost of music royalties.
  • People need people. When research gets hairy, museum curators, not-so-distant cousins of librarians, are frequently called on to intervene, oftentimes with great success.

The Museum of Television and Radio is located at 25 West 52nd Street in New York, New York and 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, California.

Where Old Television Goes to Its Final Reward, by Alessandra Stanley. The New York Times, July 2, 2004 (may require free registration).