A post by Faculty Librarian Ben Taylorson
I’ve worked for Durham University Library and Collections for many years (since the last millennium in fact, for those that are counting) and one of the more difficult requests to fulfill in terms of resource provision has always been documentaries.
In the olden days (read: pre-internet, or internet as we know it today, at least) it was a matter of acquiring a hard copy on VHS and then latterly DVD. Documentaries released for educational purchase were usually considerably more expensive to buy in hard copy when compared to, say, mainstream movies released in the same format. This was, presumably, as the producers knew or expected a copy sold to an educational institution would be screened to a large cohort of students, thus the cost of one copy needed to reflect that.
Anyway, along came the internet to solve all of our problems, right?
As I’m sure you’ll be aware of as an everyday consumer of media, there are multiple platforms/paywalls that media can be hidden behind when you’re looking for that latest big movie release – be it Amazon Prime, Disney+, Apple TV or Netflix (and others)
The same is true of educational materials, and we subscribe to a number of different media resources to meet the needs of our users. But we can’t subscribe to them all!
The most frequently asked-about ‘anomaly’ is Netflix. They do not offer an institutional subscription, so we as a library cannot subscribe and make their content available to our users. But I recently discovered that there is a way in which Netflix content can be utilised in an academic context.
Some Netflix original educational documentaries are available for one-time educational screenings.
To find out which titles are available for educational screenings, visit media.netflix.com and search for the title or browse the recent and upcoming releases.
Titles that are available for educational screening will display either a Grant of Permission or an Educational Screenings Permission (ESP) on their details page:
Whoever is screening the documentary will have to have a personal Netflix account of their own, but as many people do, this represents another way of making more academic content available to our students.