A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Library DVDs versus Netflix Streaming

by on September 19, 2013

Every time I sit down to write this, I stop to consider whether I have given it enough time and thought. While I am a Netflix subscriber, and I do not see that changing, I have become disillusioned with their service. Here are five reasons why my library is so much better than subscribing to the Netflix streaming service.

First, titles from my library are more timely. We buy enough copies and circulate them fast enough to ensure that I can get the new titles long before they are available through Netflix streaming. Even with a hundred holds on a title, I will get it before it appears on Netflix streaming, if it ever appears there. If I remember, I can even reserve a title before it is released, and I can walk out of the library, with the dvd, when the title has arrived.

Second, the library has better titles. The other night I had time to watch a movie, and I assumed that I could find something of interest on Netflix streaming. After 45 minutes of browsing, I turned it off in frustration. I jumped in my car and drove to a local branch. Within 10 minutes of walking in the door, I had a movie checked out and was driving home. The title I selected wasn’t even available via the streaming service.  Furthermore, at the library I can check out all the titles from the premier cable channels, like HBO, which I doubt will ever make it to Netflix streaming. I have the entire “Game of Thrones” Season 1 (yes, I know I’m behind) sitting beside the television.

Third, I don’t know who catalogs for Netflix streaming, but I have better people in my library classifying our collection. For example, “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” reads, “After herbalist Xu Xian weds a woman who saved him from drowning, he discovers that she’s an incarnation of the 1,000-year-old Madame White Snake.” This particular title is indexed by Netflix in Drama, Foreign, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, and Action/Adventure. My catalog record states the same title this way: “Based on a Chinese legend of a man who falls in love with a thousand-year-old white snake transformed into a woman. The sorcerer discovers the white snake’s true identity and battles to save the man’s soul.” I believe this is a much better representation of what this film is about.  This film is classified as a drama and located by finding “Sorcerer” in alphabetical order. Easy.

Fourth, even with the faster bandwidth, I occasionally have disruptions in Internet service in the evenings.  With the DVD from my library, that never happens.

Finally, although $7.99 is a great price, free (at the library) is the best price.

Neflix streaming is a great service that I will maintain, if for no other reason than for my children. However, I just don’t think it truly compares to the library in terms of timeliness, selection, description, and cost.