Friday, February 24, 2012

Case Study No. 0259: Congress Library Clerk and Unnamed Male Librarian

Librery of Congress scene
Pivotal moment in the movie
Tags: librery of congress
Added: 2 years ago
From: AllThePrez
Views: 139

[scene opens with Woodward and Bernstein at the Library of Congress, looking for information, where they are speaking to a middle-aged man sitting at his desk]
CONGRESS LIBRARY CLERK: You want all the material requested by the White House? All White House transactions are confidential.
[he gives them a condescending smirk]
CONGRESS LIBRARY CLERK: [quietly] Thank you very much, gentlemen.
[they turn and leave, then the scene changes to the two men walking down a hallway]
BERNSTEIN: We need a sympathetic face.
WOODWARD: We're not gonna find one here.
[cut to Woodward and Bernstein talking to a young African American man with an afro and glasses]
MALE LIBRARIAN: You want every request since when?
BERNSTEIN: Uh, when did he start?
WOODWARD: July of '71.
BERNSTEIN: I imagine the whole last year.
MALE LIBRARIAN: I'm not sure you want 'em, but I got 'em ...
[he slides a large pile of request forms across the desk towards them]



Two young Washington Post reporters - Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) - struggle to uncover the facts of the break-in of the headquarters of the National Democratic Committee in "All the President's Men" (1976). As the journalists uncover leads in their search for the truth about this break-in, they find it necessary to contact several librarians. When Carl telephones a librarian at the White House Library about materials that Howard Hunt may have checked out, the librarian states that Hunt checked out some materials. She puts him on hold while she verifies her statement. When the librarian resumes the conversation, however, she maintains that her previous statement was incorrect and that she doesn't know Hunt and hangs up. The two reporters then visit a librarian (James Murtaugh) at the Library of Congress to obtain information about White House transactions. He is evidently a librarian in a mid-level management position with some degree of authority, as he quickly impedes their search by stating that "all White House transactions are confidential. Thank you very much, gentlemen." This librarian projects the image of an "only 38" male - thinning, receding hairline, and dressed in a suit and tie. To solidify his image, he has a personal office, a further indication of his administrative position.

To circumvent the rejection of this librarian, the two ingenious reporters go to another office in the library and ask another librarian (Jaye Stewart) for White House transaction records. This bespectacled librarian sports an Afro hairstyle and wears a long-sleeve, tan shirt with a necktie. Seated at a work station surrounded by book shelving, this librarian, definitely farther down the organizational chart than the previous librarian, informs informs the reporters, "I'm not sure you want 'em, but I got 'em." He then gives them hundreds of completed request forms which they filter through in the reading room.

In this specific case, library policy regarding the confidentiality of White House records is well understood and adhered to by supervisory personnel but not by the working librarians on the lower end of the organizational chart. The failure of all librarians to act in a consistent manner indicates that vertical communication (that is, administrators to middle managers to working librarians) within the organization is inadequate.

No comments:

Post a Comment