The way the Oxford County Library deals with audio-visual materials strikes me as rather illegitimate. They charge for renting CDs and DVDs at rates comparable to commercial venues. As such, they are using a tax subsidized situation (free rent, plus funding from local taxes) to complete directly with private enterprise in an area where there is no market failure. I don’t need a governmental service to charge me three quid to rent The Life Aquatic, and the existence of one that does quite likely crowds out commercial venues that would do a better job (have more than one copy, offer deals for frequent renters, etc).
I am all for libraries having a collection of educational CDs and DVDs, but they really should be lent out in a way that is in keeping with the idea of libraries as publicly funded providers of public goods.
That said, I have been enjoying the use of my new headphones with the opera CDs that I paid Â£6 to borrow. Reproduction of classical instruments and male vocalists seem to be the two areas where there is the most difference between these and the default Apple earbuds. It can also be amusing to not how often you faintly hear people shuffling around the studio, coughing in muffled fashion, or turning pages in CDs that you have heard a hundred times. You can even hear someone’s watch ticking faintly in a Nine Inch Nails B-side I have.