Media materials selection

The Library's movie, music, and audiobook collection include a broad selection of current and historical recordings representing the performing arts and humanities. The movie and music collections are housed in the Sights and Sounds Department at Lawson McGhee Library and are available for lending throughout the Library system.

Online download and streaming services make some materials available 24 hours a day to Knox County library cardholders. The audiobook collection mirrors the print collection in authors and titles chosen when possible. The Sights and Sounds Department maintains a permanent collection of audiobooks and branches maintain a small permanent collection and a floating collection.

Selection Criteria

The “General Criteria for Selection” applies to the selection of media materials. The following criteria are also applied:

  • Format
  • Reputation of producer/distributor
  • Component materials
  • Distribution and purchase/lease restrictions
  • Price constraints
  • Product contracts
  • Size of intended/anticipated audience
  • Technical quality
  • Appropriateness and uniqueness of content to the media
  • Regional accessibility


Rapid changes in technology increase the pace of introduction of new audiovisual media. The Library keeps abreast of new forms, trends, and forecasts for expected growth and demand and introduces new formats that offer immediate and long-term benefits such as financial savings and accessibility to larger numbers of patrons. The Sights & Sounds Department maintains obsolescent formats (such as VHS and audiocassettes) for as long as it is feasible.

The Sights and Sounds Department collects and lends the following formats:

  • Audiobooks on compact disc, tape and via download
  • Music on compact disc, via web streaming and download
  • Videos in DVD and VHS format


A diverse collection of videos (on VHS and DVD) is maintained for home use by individual patrons. It consists of informational, instructional, recreational, and cultural materials for a variety of ages and preferences.

Because of the copyright restrictions on audience size mandated by most distributors of home video, most materials are purchased for the individual viewer. If the cost is not prohibitive, some materials may be purchased with public performance rights.

Because film is a highly collaborative art form, a motion picture which achieves high quality in one aspect (cinematography or acting, for example) may fail to do so in others. Such films may be added to the collection if their strengths outweigh their weaknesses. Sometimes a film may be purchased both for entertainment value and as an example of how artistic intentions can go wrong.

Foreign films editions using the original soundtrack are purchased when possible as opposed to a soundtrack dubbed in English.

Serious works which present an honest aspect of life are not excluded for frankness of expression.


The music collection includes basic works of the standard classical composers, often in several versions; historical and current recordings of all genres of popular music including but not limited to jazz, rock, country, folk, bluegrass and world music. Most recordings are added in their original versions.


The audiobook collection mirrors the print collection in authors and titles chosen. In certain areas where print versions of a title are not available (such as radio programs, lectures, and motivational speakers) the criteria for selecting other media and print material apply. In most cases, the Library buys only unabridged audiobooks.