Oscar-nominated movies. Classical music. Boxed sets of TV shows like Supernatural and Dr. Who. That’s Jermaine King’s job in a nutshell.
King is the media desk supervisor for the UGA Libraries. It’s his job to order films that professors request for classes and help stock the library with media ranging from boxed sets of TV shows to complete the libraries’ collections to popular TV shows like True Blood if enough people ask for it.
The collection includes 2,015 DVDs, 997 laser discs and 5,400 VHS tapes ranging from black-and-white French films to independent films like Get Low. There are cassette tapes of spoken word poetry and Chinese language lessons.
But what may be most surprising about the collection isn’t the classic Shakespeare or Audrey Hepburn movies, it’s that modern films like The Social Network, Iron Man and Black Swan are all available for checkout by faculty, staff and students. Two years ago students could only watch movies for classes at the library, but that’s changed; and now the last season of Lost can go home with a student or staff member for a three-day checkout or a professor can check out the Inside Job for a week. And King is trying to get the word out. He says he’s overloaded the campus with flyers. He even has a Facebook page and Twitter account for the media desk that he updates when new titles come in.
King can rattle off romantic comedies and BBC theater specials, but he might be best known for the movie recommendations he gives out with his trademark grin. And he admits that a lot of patrons who come to the desk don’t know what they want to check out, but he’s more than happy to help them.
His favorite recommendation is King of Kong, a video game documentary about a teacher setting the Donkey Kong word record.
“No one’s heard of it, but they come back and tell me they love it,” he said.
King even has repeat customers, including a graduate student who stops by every Thursday.
“I was recommending him stuff every week. And then one week he said his wife asked why he kept coming home with all these action movies and comedies,” King said. “I started adding romance movies to his action and comedy checkouts. The Lakehouse. Time Travelers Wife,” he said. “I like chick flicks. Don’t tell anyone.”
His favorites, though, are martial arts movies and sci-fi, and he’s quick to say that when he orders media for the library, he orders it for campus-not himself.
“If I ordered everything I liked, it would be nothing but martial arts movies and sci-fi movies,” he said with a laugh.
According to King, one of the favorite parts of his job is seeing people’s reactions when they come back and return items. He wants to know if they liked it or not. And if they didn’t, he’ll have another recommendation for them.
He takes his job of familiarizing himself with the collection seriously. He’s listened to all of the classical music. He hasn’t quite seen all of the movies and TV shows, but he usually checks out one a weekend, though he sees a lot of movies in the theater.
“Working here I’ve developed a new love for documentaries because we have a lot of those here,” he said. “If I check out anything, it’s probably a documentary.”
King’s history with the libraries goes back more than a decade. As an undergraduate he would frequent the third floor of the main library to read graphic novels. He had a friend who worked in shelving, so he applied for a student position. He’s been at the libraries ever since shelving books in the multi-story repository and making library cards and flagging records for unreturned books in the circulation office.
He worked three years as a student worker before a full-time position opened up in circulation. For the past two years he’s been in the basement helping patrons with microfilm
and making sure professors have the films they need for campus film festivals.