"YOU'VE seen the video. Now read the book." That is what Li Stark, a librarian at the North Castle Public Library in Armonk, advises people."Many people come in for videos," she said. "Once they're here, we can 'sell' them books."
Like many other libraries in the county, the North Castle Library has seen a sharp increase in the use of videocassettes. After a circulation of 3,784 tapes in 1988, the library lent 6,355 tapes last year and 6,347 in the first 10 months of this year.
At the Briarcliff Manor Public Library, the increase has been even more dramatic, with 5,435 videocassettes circulated in the first 10 months this year, compared with 2,864 for all of last year.
The countywide circulation of all library material, including books, for 1988 amounted to 6,035,040 items. For last year the figure was 6,155,813. Early and incomplete figures for 1990 indicate a continuance of this stable trend in book circulation in county libraries. A Way to Be Responsive
"As movies and video rentals become more expensive and people have less disposable income, they come to the library for their videotapes," Ms. Stark said." The community wants the service, and I think it is the responsibility of the library to be responsive."
Libraries purchase tapes for their own collections, and they may also belong to a cooperative organized by the Westchester Library System, an agency that coordinates the resources of member libraries. The cooperative enables member libraries to use bags of up to 50 videotapes that move from library to library.
"The cooperative service enables us to provide videos to the libraries at less than $1 per video," said Diane Courtney, the adult, young adult and media consultant for the Westchester Library System. "We circulate popular videocassettes, like the current 'Pretty Woman,' as well as children's videos, how-to's and operas."
She added that videocassettes of old movies, many unavailable at videotape rental stores, were especially popular with library users. Of the 38 Westchester libraries, 33 belong to the cooperative. Seeking a Better Price
Ms. Courtney was a consultant recently to a statewide consortium seeking more competitive prices for its member libraries in purchasing videotapes from producers and distributors. From October through Dec. 15, libraries were given the opportunity to purchase videotapes at considerable savings, with the Westchester Library System coordinating the sales. The next such purchasing period is for March 1 through May 30.
The videocassettes -- like books on tapes, audio cassettes, compact disks and long-playing records -- are catalogued electronically. The goal is to have every item eventually in every library's collection in the county fully listed. Already, someone with a penchant, say, for "The Last Emperor," is able to choose the book, the videocassette or the movie music on audio cassette or compact disk.
"The Westchester Library System is usually the first system in the country to have the materials catalogued," said Beverly Harris, chief of technical services for the Westchester Library system. During the first nine months of this year, more than 3,000 titles of all kinds were added, compared with more than 3,000 titles in the 12 months of last year.
The directory is financially supported by the Westchester County Public Library Directors' Association, "as a special project, with funds allocated by the state to be spent as we choose," said Joan Grott, president of the both the Westchester and the New York State Public Library Directors' Associations. She is the director of the Mamaroneck Free Library. No More 16-Millimeter Films
But one source of entertainment and education will soon end: the Westchester Library System is discontinuing its circulation of 16-millimeter films.
"Funds to the Westchester Library system have been cut by the county, and we anticipate that state funds will be jeopardized, too," Ms. Courtney said. "If funding becomes available in the future, then we will again make the films available." The films are used by day camps, clubs, hospitals and other institutions.
"I ordered three or four films this month, and I used them regularly in my recreation room," said Ronnie Zackman, recreation director of Tarrytown Hall, a nursing home in Tarrytown. "I like to show a film on a book we are discussing in our literary club."
For the Christmas season, she plans to show "White Christmas," "A Christmas Carol," and "The Nutcracker Suite." But after Dec. 31, no films will be available from the Westchester Library System.