CMU to stop purchasing VCRs, working to convert media to digital files

Central Michigan University will stop purchasing and repairing classroom VCRs beginning in the spring semester.

However, this does not mean the machines will not be used on campus next year. Classrooms with VCRs already in them and working can still be accessed, just not replaced if and when they fail, said Kole Taylor, manager of the Office of Information Technology Communications.

“By next fall, we will try to maintain the status quo,” Taylor said. “As VCRs start to die, they will not be replaced.”

For the past year, CMU considered no longer purchasing VCRs for several reasons.

“The problem is it is remarkably difficult to find quality VCRs,” Taylor said. “It makes it pretty tough to support those.”

In addition to the arduous task of finding enough VCRs in bulk, they also have to be programmed to the Crestron panels, which is what connects everything to the classroom projectors.

The decision to move toward a more digital basis was discussed in several committees. The entire faculty has received word on the decision and media services were contacted specifically, Taylor said.

“We encourage faculty to check out streaming online,” Taylor said.

Stephanie Mathson, assistant professor in the library, handles the library’s collection of non-print media.

“For a couple of decades, the use of VHS tapes has dropped as we have replaced the format with DVDs and streaming copies,” Mathson said. “It does impact us because we have withdrawn some of the tapes.”

Most of the videos located in the library are educational films and other documentaries.

“We are talking about films that are not usually found in Family Video or on Netflix,” Mathson said. “I have replaced, and will continue to replace, the older versions.”

There has also been talk of formatting the VHS tapes into DVDs if they are not found in any other format. There are many distributors for the tapes regarding copyright, in which case, the university would need to get their permission.

“If we can’t find it in an alternate format, we might receive permission from copyright owners to change the format,” Mathson said.

English instructor Elizabeth Berriman, who has several VHS tapes regarding linguistics and the different uses in dialect, has already decided to try to transition to digital formats.

“There are three videos I check out of the CMU library regularly,” Berriman said.

When she was notified about the change in course regarding the VCRs, she called the university library in search of her three tapes. Mathson had found all three videos in DVD format, including a tape that was created in the 1970s.

Lake Orion junior Jacob Montalvo-Santiheo has begun to notice the irrelevance of movies from the past decade when used in the classroom.

“I think it’s about time (to update), because most instructional videos are from the '90s,” he said

Two of Montalvo-Santiheo’s classes have used numerous videos, most of which had been from VHS tapes.

“I think it’s unfair, but good to force (professors) to find an updated version of the material,” Montalvo-Santiheo said. “It’s definitely a good change overall.”


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