U of I Library Acquires Rare Media Collection

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URBANA – That’s Rentertainment’s nearly 3,000 strong collection of rare and out-of-print BluRay discs, DVDs and VHS tapes will find a new home in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s library.

That’s Rentertainment, one of the largest independent video rental stores in Illinois, closed on August 16, 2015 after 30 years of service. Local resident and university employee Dena Strong developed a plan, before the store closed its doors, to keep a portion of the store’s collection in the hands of local viewers.

Strong created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to acquire the collection. Her project got the attention of several university faculty members who contacted library cinema studies and media services specialist Robert Cagle about acquiring the films for the university.

The University Library gift funded an additional $26,000 to purchase all of the chosen titles after it became apparent the online campaign still did not have enough money to afford all of the titles.

Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Wilkin explained that the University Library found it essential to keep these rare titles accessible to the public.

Geoffrey Merritt, the owner of the former That’s Rentertainment, was also pleased to know the films would still be available to the community he primarily served.

“I’m excited to see such a substantial portion of our collection find a home right here on the University of Illinois campus,” Merritt says.

Cagle says these local, independent and international film and television titles will come in great use to instructors as resources. They will also be enjoyed by a “wide audience off campus.”

“Anyone interested in checking out these titles, or any other library holdings may do so by obtaining a courtesy card,” Cagle adds.

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