The Adventures of the Special Librarian
Get a rare glimpse into a day in the life of a corporate research librarian in 1964! Created for National Library Week by Grieg Aspnes, Research Librarian for Cargill, the film shows Grieg going about his day as he visits other libraries throughout the Twin Cities, trying to answer a complex question for an internal customer. At the time, the film was sent several places in the U.S., as it was used by several library schools and at professional events. It was also shown on local television station, WCCO TV, channel 4, along with a panel of special librarians, for a career segment. As you watch, be sure to pay attention to the "little black bag"!
The original film is held in the archives of the Minnesota Chapter of the Special Library Association (SLA), and was converted to digital format in 2010.
If anyone can identify the other librarians in the film, or have general observations and input, please do leave us a comment below!
Tags: librarian library research SLA minnesota cargill
Added: 2 years ago
[scene opens with a male patron entering the "Cargill Research and Engineering Building"]
NARRATOR: To the Cargill Incorporated Research Library comes a patron with his problem.
[cut to the patron inside the building, as he approaches an older male librarian (bald, glasses, suit and tie) sitting at the desk]
NARRATOR: He presents it to the librarian.
[he shakes the librarian's hand, then places a piece of paper down on the desk]
NARRATOR: They talk it over to make sure they agree on what is needed.
[the librarian takes the paper, and they head towards the shelves behind the desk]
NARRATOR: They then try a few sources.
[he takes a book off the shelf, then cut to the two walking back towards the door]
NARRATOR: A more thorough search is found to be necessary, so the librarian prepares to search more widely.
[cut to the librarian (now alone) as he takes a black bag out from underneath the desk]
NARRATOR: Note the little black bag ... For this particular special librarian, this little black bag is a constant companion during his searches in other libraries. Later in the film, you'll see why.
[cut to the librarian entering a room marked "Creative Library"]
NARRATOR: His first visit is to the Creative Library of Campbell Mithun Incorporated, which serves all the management, writers, artists, idea men, account personnel, and production people of a major advertising agency.
[cut to the librarian being led to the archives section]
NARRATOR: To do this takes some very special types of indexes and source material, not ordinarily found in the public library or in any other type of special library.
[cut to another male librarian showing him some books]
NARRATOR: Although some interesting facts are found, the full answer is still needed, and the searching librarian moves on.
[cut to the librarian exiting the "Creative Library"]
NARRATOR: Next, he stops at the research library of the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Company.
[cut to the librarian walking up to a female receptionist]
NARRATOR: This library serves both the technical research and business research needs of the company.
[cut to the librarian entering the archives section, as he shakes hands with another male librarian]
NARRATOR: And again, he will find a particularly unusual and unconventional source of information.
[cut to the two librarians searching through the archives]
NARRATOR: The paper industry is just one of the many kinds of American business that have found special libraries rich minds of valuable information for their personnel.
[cut to the two librarians looking through a book]
NARRATOR: With such a library at hand, no executive or employee needs to struggle long for the answer to any question that comes up during his day's work.
[cut to the two men shaking hands, then to the special librarian entering another building]
NARRATOR: Next, the Pillsbury Company library of marketing services.
[cut to a female librarian showing him their archives]
NARRATOR: Here are long shelves of filed reports, compiled by the company itself or provided by specialized services for highly particular purposes.
[cut to the librarian entering another building, and shaking the hand of another male librarian]
NARRATOR: Being up to date is very important to business and research, and to the special librarian, and this is nowhere more true than in a large securities investment firm like Investors Diversified Services.
[cut to a female librarian pulling a booklet from the shelf]
NARRATOR: Here are collected extensive files of the most recent and reliable information on the financial affairs of every imaginable type of American business firm.
[cut to the female librarian handing the booklet to the other two librarians]
NARRATOR: Here, our special librarian has a chance to consult a service that provides that kind of information, and because this material cannot leave its library, a photocopying machine is used.
[he takes a page out of the booklet and hands it to the female librarian, who brings it to the photocopy machine]
NARRATOR: Most special libraries now have some sort of photocopying device that allows them quickly to provide material to their clients without having to remove original sources from the library.
[cut to the librarian entering another building]
NARRATOR: The library of the Minneapolis Gas Company serves over a thousand employees, with everything from technical information about gas production and distribution, to population trends, household recipes, or design ideas for stoves or other gas appliances.
[cut to the librarian walking up to the female librarian at the front desk and handing her a piece of paper]
NARRATOR: Again, our searching librarian a warm welcome and ready assistance.
[cut to the female librarian pulling a book from the shelf]
NARRATOR: And again, he finds sources of information that are peculiar to this type of industry and this type of library.
[cut to the two of them looking over the book]
NARRATOR: Although most special libraries do not serve the general public, this one - being a part of a public utility - may provide information in response to requests that come in directly from its many customers or are relayed to it via the customer service or public relations departments.
[cut to the librarian exiting the building]
NARRATOR: Our next stop is in the library of the Northwestern Bancorporation.
[cut to the librarian entering the building and speaking with the female librarian at the front desk]
NARRATOR: This corporation provides its member banks, throughout five neighboring states, with information which may range all the way from the latest statistics on money flow or government spending to ideas for making the banks more interesting and attractive to the general public.
[cut to the female librarian showing him a book]
NARRATOR: Now here, the little black bag is put to use ... It holds a personal photocopier, for use on the spot, when other copying devices are not available.
[cut to the librarian opening the bag, then taking out the small photocopying machine and using it to copy the book]
NARRATOR: Having made his copy, the librarian will take it back to his own office, to be developed and printed.
[cut to the librarian exiting the library]
NARRATOR: In the research laboratories of one of the nation's great food processing companies, General Mills, our librarian finally finds the answer he has been seeking.
[cut to inside of the James Ford Bell Research Center of General Mills, as the librarian is led to the archives section]
NARRATOR: This library holds just about every book, magazine, report, pamphlet, or document needed for research into the creation, development, manufacture, and distribution of some of our most popular food products.
[cut to another male librarian leading him through the archives]
NARRATOR: It is the largest of the libraries we have seen today. It has more professional employees, but it typifies the essentials of the special libraries we have visited.
[cut to the two of them leafing through a pamphlet]
NARRATOR: It too is highly specialized to serve the needs of its organization. It works under the pressure of daily deadlines, and its users, when they bring their questions, have a practical tangible dollars-and-cents reason for needing the information.
[the librarian shakes the other man's hand, then exits the library]
Check out the vintage 1964 film The Adventures of the Special Librarian on YouTube!
Terri Horsemann, Chapter Archivist
Filmed in the Twin Cities in 1964 and starring Grieg Aspnes, Research Librarian for Cargill, past president of the SLA, and an active leader in the Minnesota Chapter, the film shows a day in the life of a special librarian as he travels to a variety of libraries in the Twin Cities, looking for help with a research question. The film was created for National Library Week and at the time, it was sent several places in the U.S. to be used by several library schools and at professional events. It was also shown on local television station, WCCO TV, channel 4, along with a panel of special librarians, for a career segment. As you watch, be sure to pay attention to the "little black bag"!
This fun and historic six-minute film is part of the archives of the Minnesota SLA chapter and was converted to digital format in 2010.
If anyone can help identify people in the film (and you haven't already written to us), please contact chapter Archivist, Terri Horsmann at terri.horsmann [at] cargill.com.
Check out the vintage film The Adventures of the Special Librarian on YouTube!
(The following comes to us from the Chapter Archivist of the Minnesota SLA Chapter)
Filmed in the Twin Cities in 1964 and starring Grieg Aspnes, Research Librarian for Cargill, past president of the SLA, and an active leader in the Minnesota Chapter, the film shows a day in the life of a special librarian as he travels to a variety of libraries in the Twin Cities, looking for help with a complex research question. You'll see the variety of libraries Grieg visited, and might be struck by the leg-work required to answer a question that today, we could most likely find very quickly through subscription databases.
This fun and historic six-minute film is part of the archives of the Minnesota SLA chapter.
Visit the MinnesotaSLA YouTube channel.
Kudos to the Minnesota SLA division's Terri Horsmann for converting this 1964 information film to a YouTube video for all to see. It was fun to see how the information research of 1964 corporate libraries has changed, but it was more interesting to see how much of it still runs parallel to today's research techniques.
As you watch the video, pay attention to the number of times you see the "Reading is Key" posters in each of the different corporate libraries. I'm thinking that was the ALA Library Week Theme that year ...