Policy Documents

No. 20 The Private Video Library: A Bright Beginning, An Uncertain Future

William B. Irvine –
March 31, 1988

The popularity of the video cassette recoder (VCR) has given rise to a new economic phenomenon: the video store. The growth of the video store industry has, in turn, given rise to a growing controversy concerning the propriety of allowing public libraries to compete with private companies.

The term "video store" is a bit misleading. It can apply not only to stores that sell prerecored videocassettes ("videos"), but also to stores that sell VCRs and video cameras, as well as to stores that rent videos. These latter video "stores" are in fact libraries, that lend videos rather than books. Furthermore, they are private libraries, funded and operated not by the government, but by corporations and individuals who pay taxes rather than receive tax support.


Please note The Heartland Institute’s phone number and address have changed since this document was created. The correct contact information is The Heartland Institute, 19 South LaSalle Street #903, Chicago, IL 60603; phone 312/377-4000; fax 312/377-5000; email think@heartland.org.