VHS TAPE USAGE IN CAMPUS CLASSROOMS
OIT CTS @ firstname.lastname@example.org, (949) 824-8833
Social Sciences faculty, contact:
Andrew Hill, Social Sciences Computing and Network Services @ email@example.com, (949) 824-8211
Humanities faculty - for titles in the Humanities Studio Collection or for assistance digitizing analog material, contact:
Arianne Schultheis, Humanities Studio Operations Manager @ firstname.lastname@example.org, (949) 824-6344
If you would like to find out whether a VHS tape in the UCI Libraries collection is available in DVD or available as streaming media, contact your subject librarian:
Message to UCI Faculty Concerning VHS Tape Usage
September 19, 2013
This message is directed to UCI faculty who use VHS tapes in their instructional activities in general assignment classrooms.
Starting in 2012, the Classroom Technology Support (CTS) group within the Office of Information Technology began upgrading the computers and audio-visual equipment within the general assignment classrooms across campus. (Classrooms controlled by individual schools and departments are excluded.) Each year a set of approximately 20% of these classrooms are having their lectern controls, computers, and sound and projection systems upgraded using funding from the student eTech fees (see www.etech.uci.edu for more details). Additional information on the classroom refresh can be found on the CTS home page: www.classrooms.uci.edu.
As one aspect of the upgrades, CTS has replaced VHS tape decks with Blu-Ray players in the refreshed classrooms. VHS tape decks can still be used in the rooms, but they will no longer be installed as part of the ‘standard’ set of permanently installed devices. CTS has had discussions with Humanities and Social Science support staff, and has offered some of our VHS decks to the schools, departments, and individual faculty who are in the greatest need. Additionally, CTS may be able to temporarily install a VHS deck in a classroom upon request for the duration of your class.
We all know that among major manufacturers, support for (and availability of) VHS decks and blank tapes has gone sharply downhill in recent years. Another major concern of ours is that as VHS tapes age, they are more likely subject to image degradation and catastrophic failure while being played. In response to this reality, our goal is to assist faculty in showing VHS materials when needed BUT also to assist with the conversion of VHS tapes to more stable digital media. We have worked in conjunction with several on-campus groups to help support this cause in several ways:
1) Materials where the copyrights are owned by faculty (for example self created tapes) or the faculty member has permission of the copyright owner
These materials can be converted by several campus groups into a variety of digital formats at no cost. Departmental and school IT and media support staff can perform this service as well as the Division of Teaching and Learning’s Media Services group, (see mediaservices.uci.edu/services/video-production/ for details).
2) VHS tapes that are commercially copyrighted, but only an excerpt is required
This usage generally falls under the ‘fair use’ doctrine of copyright law (see www.copyright.gov/fls/fl102.html). The same campus staff as above may be able to assist you with the conversion to digital media based on specific criteria (see www.copyright.gov/1201/2010/initialed-registers-recommendation-june-11-2010.pdf).
3) VHS tapes that are commercially available in updated digital format
Funds are available for the purchase of institutionally licensed versions of the replacement DVDs, Blu-Ray Discs, or streaming video. Since acquiring such a copy may take several weeks, an emergency ‘ephemeral’ digital copy of the VHS tape may be created for the class upon transfer of the VHS version to the UCI Libraries' or media centers' staff. Please contact the UCI Libraries or your local media archivists to request a replacement version.
4) Material that is commercially copyrighted but no current digital version is being sold
UCI Libraries staff have special copying privileges for the preservation of knowledge that allows a digital copy to be made and retained by the UCI Libraries for your use. Please contact your academic department's subject librarian liaison at www.lib.uci.edu/subject-librarians to determine if your VHS material falls into this category.
While we are concerned that this change may be disruptive to some in their usage of VHS tapes in general assignment classrooms, we believe that these varied strategies will mitigate the effects of the change and help move these fragile, critical materials to a more reliable digital format. The longer we keep outdated and unsupported players permanently installed in the rooms, the more likely we are to see failure of the decks and/or tapes. As such, staff time and eTech funds have been assigned to the task of moving this material to a more updated and stable medium. We expect that in three years when the classroom upgrades are complete, that VHS tape display will be as exceptional as the use of 16 and 35mm film in classrooms.
For more information on the classroom upgrade project and the transition away from VHS usage in these classrooms, please contact either Eric Rupp (x46962) or Allen Schiano (x42829) of OIT/Classroom Technology Support.
Staff Guidelines for VHS Conversion
Guidelines for Support of Faculty in the Transition from VHS to Digital Formats (pdf)
VHS Decks in SmartClassrooms
As of Fall 2016, SmartClassrooms no longer contain VHS/DVD decks by default. While they were phased out of the standard equipment list in classrooms beginning in 2012, VHS tapes can still be temporarily accommodated in any room.
VHS decks may be picked up for loan from the OIT CTS office, your department, or support centers such as the Humanities Studio or Social Science Computing Services, and connected to the RCA inputs on the side of the SmartClassroom lectern. For the long term, we recommend that materials currently on VHS tape should be re-purchased in digital format as available, or converted to digital format where copyright allows. For assistance and information, please contact your subject librarian, your school computing support staff, or OIT CTS staff.
View our Classroom Info & Pictures page for a full list of equipment in each room, and our Equipment Rental page for more information about our VHS deck loan policy.