Film canons and the academic library

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O'Loughlin, Ian
Issue Date
MSc Information and Library Management
Dublin Business School
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In 2005 it was suggested within a New York Times article that perhaps a university level qualification in film studies could be considered “the new MBA” given the moving image’s extraordinary capacity for communicating messages on a global scale (Van Ness, 2005). The increasingly prominent position of films in the academic library from the early ‘90s onwards has popularly been attributed to the rise of film studies in universities along with advances in home video technology. Such developments have facilitated the holding of open access DVD and VHS collections of popular films in the academic library. However the growth of popular film collections has been contemporaneous with an increasing focus on postmodern theory and cultural studies in film studies and the decline of the practice of evaluation from academic film study. In this environment film canons compiled and endorsed by film academics have disappeared to be replaced by a proliferation of “best of” lists compiled by popular magazines and websites. This thesis analyses the film collections of seven Irish university libraries in order to determine whether or not film canons do continue to play a role in their formation and development.