VHSs and VCRs first hit the US market in the 1970’s, but already by the late 1990’s, DVDs took hold as consumers’ preferred format for playing video content at home. Sales of videocassettes have dropped dramatically ever since.
Though not quite yet considered an obsolete format, VHSs are prone to deterioration and there are fewer and fewer VCRs for sale in the marketplace, especially since the last maker of VCRs, Funai Electronic, announced it would stop producing them in August 2016, leaving many libraries to question what to do with their aging tapes. Today, even DVD sales are on the decline, with subscription streaming video services, like Netflix and Amazon, outpacing discs for the first time in 2016.
Here at Wheelock, we recognized these trends and removed VCRs from classrooms spring 2015. In the two intervening years, the Library worked with faculty to replace or convert unique content previously only available on VHS. With a growing preference for online access to videos, the Library also worked to develop a robust collection of streaming videos. As a result, we now have over 400 DVDs and access to almost 90,000 film titles through our streaming subscriptions, Kanopy and Alexander Street, and we’re finally ready to say goodbye for good to our VHSs!
The Library is removing VHSs from our collection, but you’ll have a chance this week only to grab them for your own collection! Swing by the Library basement this week to take home as many VHSs as you’d like. Make art, repurpose them, or if you’re lucky enough to still have a VCR, embrace the grainy quality and play on!