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| Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Anyone who knows me knows I love movies. I’m always looking for the best cinematic experiences, both new and old, to add to my repertoire. When I was in ninth grade, I started compiling a list of films that I had not seen and wanted to watch. This list currently stands at 206 films (franchises count as a single entry), and it just keeps growing. I’m currently about 30 percent of the way through it.

One of the most valuable tools for completing this list has been the University of Notre Dame’s library film collection. The Hesburgh Library has over 12,000 movies on tape and disc, and they’re freely available on three-day loans to undergraduates. The diversity of selection is very impressive — everything from the classic Soviet silent film “Battleship Potemkin” to flicks as recent as 2010’s “The Town.”

It’s gotten to be a ritual for me to pick out a new DVD to celebrate the successful completion of an exam or paper, usually while bolting down handfuls of Grab-and-Go popcorn. I encourage the rest of you to try it as well. At time of writing, I have “On the Waterfront” checked out, which is number 49 on my list, between “Drive” and “The Expendables 2.” I look forward to seeing Marlon Brando talk about how he “could have been a contender” — and presumably the rest of the movie.

However, the Hesburgh Library’s collection is not the only one on campus. There’s also the Kresge Law Library, which has its own collection of DVDs. Some of them have clear legal themes, like 1992’s “A Few Good Men.” Others are just plain weird. I can’t imagine for the life of me what Frank Miller’s “Sin City” is doing in a law library, unless it’s meant to illustrate egregious violations of Amendments Four through Eight of the Constitution.

The puzzling thing about these two collections is that they operate on separate systems. If you want to check out a book from the Kresge Library as an undergraduate, you have to get yourself put into the library’s system. Wouldn’t it be easier for every undergrad to be entered into Kresge’s system by default?

The effort required to become eligible to use the law library is pretty minimal, so I don’t feel too upset about it. The same cannot be said, however, for the Saint Mary’s collection. Let’s say I wanted to watch Aaron Sorkin’s 1996 film “The American President.” The Hesburgh Library does not stock it, but Saint Mary’s Cushwa-Leighton Library does. So I’d have to go all the way to Saint Mary’s and back — a 20-minute round trip if I walk or who-knows-how-long waiting for the bus. And as much as I love Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas, it’s just not worth it.

I respectfully suggest that these systems be combined into one, similar to how an ordinary municipal library works. (As Notre Dame is a city in its own right, applying a city model here is perfectly reasonable.) This way, students from both schools would have access to each other’s collections. A student could reserve a film from one of the other school’s libraries and have it delivered and held at a more convenient location. It seems like an easy way to help students get the most out of the libraries’ contents.

Either way, I’ll continue to patronize Notre Dame’s many films. I only hope that one day I’ll be able to more easily access Saint Mary’s impressive collection as easily as I do those of Hesburgh and Kresge. Once I finish “On the Waterfront,” I’ll have checked off 76 of the entries on my list, with 130 to go. It should be a piece of cake, as long as they don’t make any more movies in the near future.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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