The Hollywood Librarian Trailer
Trailer for The Hollywood Librarian, a documentary film.
Now in distribution from Media Education Foundation.
BUY THE DVD at http://www.media ed.org/ cgi-bin/ commerce.cgi? preadd= action&key=140
Tags: The Hollywood Librarian libraries documentary film trailer librarians MEF seidl
Added: 7 years ago
["Overdue Productions presents" appears on screen, then cut to a female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
PAT LAWTON: We're not just a bunch of women sitting around making marks on pages ...
["They have more cardholders than VISA" appears on screen, then cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
MARILYN MARTIN: I'm in the best job in the world.
["More outlets than McDonald's" appears on screen, then cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
MARIA MENA: Librarianship is a calling. I'm convinced of that.
["They move more items than FedEx" appears on screen, then cut to a male librarian speaking directly to the camera]
JAMIE LERUE: I was destined for libraries.
[cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
NANCY PARADISE: And I had wanted to be a librarian my entire life.
[cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: Maybe it's because librarians make it look so easy, what we do.
[cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
RHEA LAWSON: I have a staff of six hundred, and we have thirty seven locations.
["Meet America's librarians" appears on screen, then cut to Nancy Pearl being interviewed by a female radio broadcaster]
KATHLEEN DUNN: She's a regular commentator about books on national public radio. I read whatever she recommends.
[cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
SUSAN TERRELL: I spend close to fifty percent of my time fund-raising.
[cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: We're gonna be having a Cambodian cultural festival here at the library.
[cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
SUSAN TERRELL: We have a Christmas show. A talent show. A garden show.
[cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
PAT LAWTON: It is one of the most intellectually stimulating disciplines that I've ever engaged in.
[cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: It's being organized by a Cambodian rapper.
[cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
SUSAN TERRELL: A squaredance. A golf tournament. A wine tasting.
["A documentary film by Ann Seidl" appears on screen, then cut to author Ray Bradbury speaking directly to the camera]
RAY BRADBURY: You're looking for yourself in the library ...
[cut to various still images meant to represent the passing of the Patriot Act, then cut to a male librarian speaking directly to the camera]
MARTIN GARNAR: If they had given as much thought to the law as they had to the cute name, perhaps the law wouldn't be so bad ...
[cut to a closeup of the librarian's face]
MARTIN GARNAR: This applies not only to your library records, but it applies to your financial records ...
[cut to a still image of a sign reading "Another 'Hysteric' Librarian for Freedom"]
MARTIN GARNAR: [in voice over] To your medical records, to your business records ...
[cut to a still image of a sign reading "The FBI has not been here. (Watch closely for the removal of this sign.)", then cut to another female librarian speaking directly to the camera]
EUGENIE PRIME: What I read in the library, how I read it, when I read it, if I read it, if I don't, it's my business ...
["The Hollywood Librarian, A Look at Librarians through Film" appears on screen, then cut back to one of the previous librarians, speaking directly to the camera]
RHEA LAWSON: I'm not just shelving books ...
Featuring the music of Prach Ly
www dot mujestic dot com
Coming this fall to a library near you.
"The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians through Film" will be the first full-length documentary film to focus on the work and lives of librarians. Using the entertaining and appealing context of American movies, the film will hold some surprises for people who may think they know what librarians do. American film contains hundreds of examples of librarians and libraries on screen -- some positive, some negative, some laughable and some dead wrong. Films such as Sophie's Choice, Philadelphia and It's a Wonderful Life show librarians as negative stereotypes. The librarians in Lorenzo's Oil, Desk Set and The Shawshank Redemption, on the other hand, are competent and professional. Dozens of interviews of real librarians will be interwoven with movie clips of cinematic librarians and serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading.
As the film unfolds, we will meet the dedicated children's librarian, the witty library director, the high-tech corporate librarian, the smart medical librarian, and and the dedicated cataloger. We visit a prison literacy program, an elementary school library and a town faced with the most severe library crisis in decades. We will show the challenges created by shrinking financial support and increased materials costs. We will encounter older librarians who have witnessed the explosion of technology and younger librarians, who were born into the information age. We will travel to large library systems with dozens of staff and visit small libraries with one librarian working alone.
The Hollywood Librarian is a unique and charming blend of film clips, humor and critical analysis of the popular image of librarians. It will create a new-found empathy for the profession by revealing the diversity of individual librarians and the importance of what they do. This documentary will increase the public's awareness of the complex and democratic nature of librarianship in the age of technology, and be a step toward librarians redefining themselves as not only more than a stereotype, but also as a cultural imperative.
For years, I'd been excited about Ann Seidl's documentary, The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film (2007) - another librarian who loves movies and is passionate about our profession and how we are portrayed? Count me in! And how cute is that logo?! (see below)
I couldn't make it to the ALA 2007 Annual Conference where the documentary premiered (see scenes from this world premier here). And when film screening opportunities rolled out the following year, I was disappointed that my library wasn't able to participate (to screen the film for the public, you had to charge for tickets, which wasn't allowed for our university library). Then I went overseas for three years, basically putting my film research on hold. So this year, FINALLY, I was able to see this documentary on dvd.
The positives? There are a lot of ‘em. It is well done, a documentary both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Seidl wrote, directed, and narrated the film - it took more than 10 years to realize this goal! - combining film clips of reel librarians and libraries with interviews of real librarians and library supporters and authors, including Ray Bradbury (who wrote Fahrenheit 451, a book about book burning, in a library). Much of what the librarians have to say is meaningful and SHOULD be heard by a larger audience. There are unsung heroes amongst the librarians, along with "superstar" librarians like Nancy Pearl, the author behind the Book Lust series and the (infamous) "shushing librarian" action figure. You can feel Seidl's passion.
The negatives? There are a lot of ‘em, too. Even though the documentary ends on a positive quote from Nancy Pearl, "People absolutely adore being librarians. And who wouldn't? I mean, it's a perfect job," the tone throughout is not exactly uplifting. But it's hard to criticize this documentary because it is so well-meaning, and everything in it is of value. But it feels like a documentary splicing together 6 or 7 different documentaries in an hour and a half. The segments highlighting library issues include, but are not limited to, the following:
* history of women in librarianship;
* Andrew Carnegie and his legacy of public libraries;
* benefits of children's library services;
* benefits of prison libraries;
* censorship and intellectual freedom;
* lack of public funding and the fight to keep public libraries open in Salinas, hometown of author John Steinbeck; and
* the destruction of libraries and priceless archives during wartime, including Afghanistan and Iraq.
In short - and that previous list is long! - the film tries too hard to fit everything in. Watching it, I felt like I was watching a lot of tangents but not a cohesive whole. And that was frustrating because like I said, everything in it was good, and the points are valuable. But this is, unfortunately, an example where the sum is lesser than its parts.
Was this a conscious choice? Did the project grow too big? Was Seidl (subconsciously?) making a point about how marginalizing librarians onscreen then marginalizes librarians in real life? In an article in American Libraries (June/July 2005), Seidl comments on her goals for the project:
"We must insist on our right to define ourselves not only as more than a stereotype, but as a cultural imperative. We must have our positive self-image with the public."
And on The Hollywood Librarian website, she reveals more about her motivations:
"The handful of films that exists on this topic [librarianship] neither examine the image and stereotype of librarians, nor portray the real work that librarians do. I want to make a film that does both."
However, the film clips that are included - the raison d'etre I had assumed based on the title - seem more like a sideline, a convenient yet throwaway method to transition between chapters. Toward the beginning, Seidl seems to sum up the reel librarian with "The fussy, bad-tempered librarian is a stock stereotype in film and television. Aside from a few positive roles, being a librarian - according to the movies - is usually anything but a wonderful life," and a quick montage of clips, including Citizen Kane (1941), Sophie's Choice (1982), The Music Man (1962), The Philadelphia Story (1940), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), and of course, It's a Wonderful Life (1946). And about an hour in, she highlights the "sexy librarian" stereotype with a few clips from The Music Man (1962), The Station Agent (2003), and No Man of Her Own (1932), among others.
This review post has taken me awhile to write - I've kept coming back to it, just as I've kept coming back to my reactions to the documentary. It is an intriguing idea, literally juxtaposing reel and real librarians and issues affecting our profession. Bottom line, I do believe media portrayals, fictional or not, of my chosen profession matter. And this documentary, in the end, also matters. It is, as they say, a noble effort. But I fear that the title will mislead, and frustrate, viewers, and leave them with more questions than answers.
But maybe that's a good thing.
Have you seen this documentary? What are your thoughts? You can read more reviews here on The Hollywood Librarian website.
Below is a list of the film clips and interviews included in The Hollywood Librarian, arranged in alphabetical order. Please note that not all of the film clips feature reel librarians.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Big Bully (1996)
Billy Elliot (2000) *
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) *
Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)
The Cider House Rules (1999) *
Citizen Kane (1941) *
City of Angels (1998)
Dangerous Minds (1995)
David Copperfield (1999?) *
The Day After Tomorrow (2004) *
Desk Set (1957)
East of Eden (1955)
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Foul Play (1978) *
Gone with the Wind (1939) *
Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
I Love Trouble (1994) *
It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (TV, 2004)
Love Story (1970)
The Music Man (1962)
The New Avengers (TV, 1976) *
No Man of Her Own (1932)
Party Girl (1995)
The Philadelphia Story (1940) *
Plaza Suite (1971)
Sophie's Choice (1982) *
Soylent Green (1973)
Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002) *
The Station Agent (2003)
Storm Center (1956)
The Time Machine (2002)
Tomcats (2001) *
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1942)
The Truman Show (1998) *
The Twilight Zone (TV, 1962)
Wonder Man (1945) *
* Uncredited film clips
Chris Ewing (web support librarian, University of Southern California)
Martin Garnar (librarian and privacy expert)
Ruth Gilbert (retired medical librarian, Denver, CO)
Susan Hildreth (State Librarian of California)
Molly Kliss (library science graduate student, Madison, WI)
Jamie LaRue (library director, Douglas County, CO)
Rhea Lawson, PhD (library director, Houston Public Library, TX)
Pat Lawton, PhD (professor of library science)
Marilyn Martin (library media specialist, Denver Public Schools)
Maria Mena (children's librarian)
Jan Neal (head librarian, Salinas Public Library)
Nancy Paradise (librarian, Long Beach, CA)
Christine Pawley, PhD (library professor, Univ. of Iowa)
Nancy Pearl (librarian and author, Seattle, WA)
Peg Hepburn Perry (librarian 50+ yrs, 1921-2006) [Katharine Hepburn's sister! Even MORE reasons to love Desk Set (1957). This could be a documentary all by itself. Dear Universe, this needs to happen. Thanks for listening.]
Eugenie Prime (head librarian, Hewlett Packard)
Maria Roddy (branch manager, Cesar Chavez Branch – Salinas public libraries)
Eleanore Schmidt (library director, Long Beach Public Library, CA)
Susan Turrell (library director, Tunkhannock Public Library)
** Job titles and workplaces as listed/stated in documentary
1950s ANNOUNCER: Your Life Work! These racks and shelves contain a lot of books.
Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions. How do you feel about
them? Do they mean something to you? Are they your friends?
NARRATOR: The human word has no parallel in the rest of the animal kingdom. Many
species have highly-evolved language, but as far as we know, human beings alone can
save their language. Without the written word, where would we find our history, our
memory, our knowledge of ourselves and others?
PAT LAWTON: It's mind-boggling. It is still just a miracle to me that this culture has
somehow agreed upon marks in sand, on a page, whatever. That these marks – that we
can all come out of our individual minds and agree upon what that means.
TEXT ON SCREEN: "Reading is a uniquely human privilege." – Daisaku Ikeda, Japanese
NARRATOR: Writing and reading cross the boundaries of time and distance. Without
them, we are alone, isolated, as if in darkness.
FILM CLIP – The Miracle Worker
WOMAN: Reach! Reach! I wanted to teach you – oh, everything the earth is full of,
Helen. Everything on it is ours for a wink and it's gone. And what we are on it, the
light we bring to it and leave behind in words. Why, you can see five thousand
years back in the light of words. Everything we feel, think, know, and share in
words. So, not a soul is in darkness or done with even in the grave.
TEXT ON SCREEN: "Books are one of the few authentic magics our species has created. –
John Steinbeck, American writer
MONTAGE – David Copperfield film references
MAN #1: Mrs. Chester, have you ever read David Copperfield?
MAN #2: To know whether I shall be the hero of my own life, whether I shall turn
out to be the hero of my own life. Chapter one. I am born. Whether I shall turn
out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held...
WOMAN #1: ...the personal history and experience of David Copperfield. Chapter
one. I am born.
MAN #3: I am born. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life... or
whether that station will be held by anybody else...
MAN #2: ...or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must
TEXT ON SCREEN: "I long to throw my arms around every librarian I meet on behalf of all
the souls they never knew they saved." – Barbara Kingsolver, American writer
NARRATOR: With all that's ever been written down through the course of history, how on
earth do we keep track of it?
1950s ANNOUNCER: We may mention the cataloguers who usually work behind the
scenes. They organize and interpret library collections for you readers. There are the
reference librarians, who help readers in their search for special information. We have the
circulation librarian, who organizes and supervises the distribution of books. We have
librarians who serve the young people, much the same as adults are served except that
the children's levels of interest are emphasized. There are the school librarians who
contribute to the educational programs of their schools. In the smaller schools the library
is usually under the supervision and direction of a teacher-librarian, a challenging and
rewarding job. When you have two important qualifications – love for books and love for
people – you may well consider the vocation of a librarian, a vocation that gives full
enjoyment to the librarian and radiates it to the public. Yes, there are many aspects to this
worthwhile occupation, all of vital importance in the nation's life.
EUGENIE PRIME: Hypatia was the last librarian of that rich period in Alexandria, and that
was the period of the scholar-librarians. They were the people who would be invited to
the so-called White House. They were the most important people in the society, and this
isn't about power. It's about an appreciation and an understanding of the role that
librarians have played. Alexandria became a thriving city because of the library. That's the
age when a lot of things happened in mathematics, in medicine, in geography – things
which still help define those different subjects and specialties today.
NARRATOR: Hypatia was famous for her skill in mathematics, astronomy, and
engineering. The library housed over 700,000 scrolls which the librarians probably
arranged by size. The librarians of Alexandria were also trusted advisors and even tutors
to the head of state.
FILM CLIP – Cleopatra
MAN: It is called an epilepse because of the arching caused by the muscular spasms
– the contortions. The Greeks of early times considered those who suffered from it
to be favored by the Gods.
WOMAN: The great Alexander, they say, had this falling sickness.
CHRIS EWING: I've always kind of had a passion for Egyptian stuff, but my passion for
hieroglyphics comes with the crossover between information architecture and the soul of
information. There is a direct correlation between the ancient Egyptian scribes and their
ability to put a story on a small piece of stone or even a wall using hieroglyphics,
pictograms, and ideograms. If they were looking at a small stone and the Pharaoh said, I
need this story of this War depicted on this stone, they would look at the stone, and they
would look at the size, and they would start to conceptualize where they needed to use
pure hieroglyphics or single characters, where they needed to use the pictograms – which
represent words or actions, and where they needed to use ideograms.
EUGENIE PRIME: We like to think of the library and disassociate the librarians from the
library, and it's the librarians who make the library whatever it is. The librarian holds a
very important role in a society, and I would like to think that in the future that there is
still this very critical and important role – keepers of the flame. Whether it's the flame of
democracy, whether it's the flame of freedom, whatever that flame is, that we are in a
sense keepers of that flame – that civilizing flame.
TV CLIP – The Twilight Zone
MAN: You're a librarian, Mr. Wordsworth. You're a dealer in books and two-cent
fines and pamphlets and closed stacks in the musty insides of a language factory
that spews out meaningless words on an assembly line. Words, Mr. Wordsworth,
that have no substance and no dimension, like air, like the wind, like a vacuum that
you make believe has an existence by scribbling index numbers on little cards.
FILM CLIP – Plaza Suite
MAN: Killing's too good for her. She can go into a convent. Let her become a
librarian with thick glasses and a pencil in her hair.
FILM CLIP – Big Bully
WOMAN: It's 8,862 days overdue.
FILM CLIP – Goodbye, Columbus
MAN: Would you take the main information desk this morning? Erikson just called,
his mother's not well, and he can't come in. There's always something. Always.
FILM CLIP – Party Girl
WOMAN: I assume you're familiar with the Dewey decimal system?
NARRATOR: The fussy, bad-tempered librarian is a stock stereotype in film and television.
Aside from a few positive roles, being a librarian – according to the movies – is usually
anything but a wonderful life.
FILM CLIP – It's A Wonderful Life
MAN #1: Tell me where she is.
MAN #2: You're not going to like it, George.
MAN #1: Where is she?
MAN #2: She's an old maid. She never married.
MAN #1: Where's Mary? Where is she? Where is she?
MAN #2: She's just about to close up the library.
NARRATOR: For a woman who wanted to work rather than marry in the 1800s, few
respectable options were open to her. Job descriptions for librarians advertised for the
feminine virtues along with competence and intelligence. A female professional of any
kind was considered suspect, and putting a woman in charge of a library was, for some,
like hiring Eve to hand out apples. Perhaps this explains the ultra-proper image cultivated
by early women librarians. It was commonplace to project an air of gracious domesticity
in their libraries with such home-like touches as flowers and works of art. Women's
progress into librarianship was also aided by an enterprising, if arrogant, librarian: Melvil
FILM CLIP – Party Girl
WOMAN #1: When most women are struggling to demonstrate their intelligence,
their complexity, here you are trying to prove just how stupid you can be.
WOMAN #2: Judy, please!
WOMAN #1: Look. Here is a card from an early card catalogue. See that
handwriting. Look at the flowery script. That's what young lady librarians were
taught – penmanship.
WOMAN #2: I am sorry!
WOMAN #1: Melvil Dewey hired women as librarians because he believed the job
didn't require any intelligence. It was a woman's job!
NARRATOR: A woman's job – one with less pay and less respect than a man's. Today,
librarianship – mostly female – is paid twenty-five percent less than similar professions –
mostly male. Still, librarians insist they can't imagine doing any other kind of work.
MOLLY KLISS: I think it's different. Deciding to become a librarian is different for
everybody, depending on what kind of a librarian they want to be or what they're
interested in. I did my undergrad in comparative literature and German literature, and
kind of considered going on to graduate school in one of those fields but, for myself, I
definitely think it was kind of a calling because when I kind of thought, maybe I should
go to library school, it just – it felt right.
KLISS' PROFESSOR: (in class) ...a lot of the reaction to this book that we've already seen,
right? Especially in Christine Pawley's essay at the beginning. But there was another
objection to this book I think you probably picked up on from that first essay and maybe
from some of the other things we've been reading...
MOLLY KLISS: From the very first day when I went out on the reference desk and was
learning about all the various resources and databases and helping people, I just knew
that it couldn't get any better.
JAMIE LERUE: I was playing baseball, and I was probably six years old. I was way out in
right field, and I was bored out of my mind. And then I saw a shimmering on the horizon
– this blue bus. And this blue bus was a bookmobile. And I walked off the baseball
diamond – just left – and stepped inside, and there the first thing I saw was Mrs. Dolores
Johnson. And she had the little bangs, and the bun in the back, and she had the sweater
with the little chain across this, and she looked at me like I was the person she had been
waiting for all of her life.
NANCY PARADISE: When I turned fifty I decided that I would be a librarian because when
you're fifty years old you can do anything you want to. And I had wanted to be a librarian
my entire life. I have been a librarian for fifteen months. It is the best job in the world
because every day you get to learn something new, and every day you get to talk to
different people. And in my case I get to see children all day. And it's just really, really fun.
Not much money, but really, really fun.
JAMIE LERUE: And around the bookmobile, about two, three rows up there was this blue
line that was painted. Everything above the blue line was adult; below the blue line was
the children's books. And in those days you could only take the children's books. And for
a while I thought, how smart, you know? The kid's books are down here where I am, and
there's so much to read. And about three months later, I decided that that was not good
enough. And so I started trying to sneak the books from above the blue line, and you'd
take the skinniest book you could find up there, and the fattest book you could find in
the children's collection, and combine them, and hope that you could slip it past Mrs.
Johnson and get out the door with an adult book. And so she'd go through it and very
quietly remove all of the adult books from my stack. And I'd say, Mrs. Johnson, "no, I
found that in the children's books." And she would say, "no, that was over the line." And I
became a librarian to find out what was over the line.
EUGENIE PRIME: My earliest memory is sitting at my mom's feet. She's combing my hair in
plaits, and I'm reading. I was born in Trinidad, Ver Cities, the thirteenth of fourteen
children. And there are all these stories about me as a kid hiding under the bed to read
and falling out of closets in the middle of the night because I fell asleep there reading.
And I do have problems with my eyes, and my family were convinced that it's all those
times I used to crawl into the closet reading and just seeing from these chinks of light.
RAY BRADBURY: When I was twelve years old, we traveled on route 66 from Illinois out to
Arizona and finally to California. But the first thing I did every night on the trip – it took
nine days – but I could hardly wait for the day to be over. Why? Because a library was
waiting for me. So I discovered in crossing America seventy years ago, and all the books
they had there that they didn't have in Waukegan. So when my father stopped the car, I
hit the ground running to the nearest library because there was mystery waiting and
EUGENIE PRIME: Library corner was how it's called and was right there at the opening of
High Street. It seemed big. I mean it was a two-story building – that‘s big, by my
standards. And I went in there, and the world became small. The world became my world
because of all these books. The place just pulsated with life, and it seemed right because I
think it was indeed the life of that city. It was a Carnegie library.
CHRISTINE PAWLEY: Carnegie himself, of course, made his money making steel, and he
was a poor immigrant from Scotland. He was allowed to use the Library of a local colonel,
and Carnegie educated himself, he later said, through borrowing the books. He wrote an
article called Wealth for the North American Review, which was a high-culture, elite
publication at the end of the nineteenth century, where he talked about people like
himself receiving huge sums of money. He saw great disparities in wealth in America, and
he saw philanthropy as a way of spreading that wealth more evenly. He was obviously
uncomfortable with how rich he had become, and libraries were his way of sharing the
goods that he himself had received. There were no boundaries around who could use the
library and who could not. So men and women could use the library, rich people and
poor people, because the library was free. And the outside of the Tipton Public Library
does proclaim this – The Free Library. Black and white benefited from Carnegie
munificence but in different ways. He didn't want the libraries to be seen to be a
monument to him, but the libraries were to be a kind of people's university.
ANDREW CARNEGIE: (speaking in 1913) This, then, is held to be the duty of the man of
wealth. First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living. To provide moderately
for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and, after doing so, to consider all
surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds.
CHRISTINE PAWLEY: Because it was not that Carnegie necessarily had a plan to fund two
and a half thousand public libraries in the world, but that's what happened. Another
aspect which people perhaps forget is that at the end of the nineteenth century, children
were not necessarily welcome in public libraries. There was quite often a requirement that
children be at least ten years old or twelve years old before they could be issued a library
ticket. But the Carnegie libraries made specific provision for children. There would be a
children's room or a children's area, often scaled-down furniture, and with domestic
interior architecture, little nooks, and fireplaces. And so Carnegie buildings, in a way,
spurred the development of children's librarianship and service to children.
NARRATOR: John Steinbeck was only five when a Carnegie library opened in his town in
1907. Nurtured by librarians, he would grow up to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
JOHN STEINBECK: (dramatization) In the old library where Mrs. Carrie Strining for so many
years presided over the stacks, I browsed the product practically to the roots.
NARRATOR: James Dean starred in the Elia Kazan movie version of Steinbeck's East of
Eden. The Salinas Valley, the setting for his best-selling novel, remains largely unchanged
SUSAN SHILLINGLAW: His fiction is full of the texture of what it looks like and feels like to
be here in California. He both loved the country around Salinas, the hills, the valleys, the
trees, the insects, the plants, the birds, but he didn't like the town social structure. He grew
up in a family with a father who was a businessman, his mother who was a former
teacher, and three sisters. He was very, very close to his younger sister Mary, and together
they would ride around the hills of Salinas on a pony named Jill – the red pony. Salinas
was not pleased with the sort of political implications of much of his work because, you
know, he was siding with the workers very much so in the late ‘30s. In Of Mice and Men, in
Dubious Battle, his novel about a strike, and The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck's sympathies
are very much with the marginalized, migrant workers – the people who are outside
mainstream California culture. That he was, you know, telling the town gossip, so to
speak, that didn't go over very well. The town of Salinas was both uncomfortable with
Steinbeck's works and of course aware that he was a very well known American writer and
wanted to honor him in some way, so they wrote him a letter in 1959 saying, how about
naming the high school after you? The John Steinbeck High School? He said, heavens, no,
you know. Name a bowling alley after me or something else, but not a high school
because certainly my academic record is not going to inspire anyone. And then they
thought next, maybe a browsing room in the library, and he was much more favorably
inclined. He loved libraries, clearly, because he cared about books, and anybody who
cares about books wants libraries as part of any community because books are important.
NARRATOR: Ultimately, Salinas named the main library itself after John Steinbeck. Over
the years, the library has grown from a single downtown library to three full branches
around the city. Then, after more than one hundred years of library service, the city
council, due to steadily declining revenues, made a heartbreaking decision.
RADIO NEWS CLIPS: ...that door and the doors of two more Salinas libraries will be
slammed shut for children like thirteen-year-old... ...the city council voted last fall to cut
police and fire services and closed the town's rec centers and all three public libraries...
...and also ironic. The hometown of Nobel Prize-winning author John Steinbeck would
have been the largest city in the nation... ...for over twenty-five years and called the
council action shameful... ...the next challenge will be convincing residents who voted
against the November tax measures to keep the libraries open – though just barely, until a
new tax measure could go before residents.
RUTH GILBERT: My name is Ruth Gilbert, and I've been a professional librarian for almost
forty years. The image of the librarian has always been a little iffy. When I first got my
degree, one of my friends said, how much is that per "Shh!"
MONTAGE – library users being told to "Shh!" in films
MAN: (singing) Madam Librarian. (Shh!) What can I do, my dear, to catch your ear? I
love you madly, madly, madam librarian, Marian. Heaven help us if the library
caught on fire... (Shh!) ...and the volunteer hose brigade men had to whisper the
news to... (Shh!) ...Marian? (Shh!) Madam librarian. (Would you kindly lower your
voice, miss?) What can I say... (Shh!) ...my dear... (Shh!) ...to tell you, dear? (Shh!)
I love you madly, madly, Madam Librarian... (Shh!) ...Marian. (Shh!) It's a long-lost
cause I can never win... (Shh!) ...for the civilized world accepts as unforgivable
sin... (Shh!) ...any talking out loud with any librarian. (Shh!) Madam Labriarian.
GROUP SINGING: Got to shake, shake, shake my sillies out. Shake, shake, shake my sillies
out. Shake, shake, shake your sillies out. Wiggle my waggles away.
MARIA MENA: The children who are exposed early to stimulus, through books and
rhymes and music, develop better and are better able to become successful learners later
on. So, basically this is a program that's teaching parents how to interact with their
children. It's teaching the children early literacy skills, motor skills, memory skills. They
have a larger vocabulary, they have longer attention spans. The children learn the rhymes
– even children as young as a year old – learn the motions to the rhymes and do them at
home. They do them in the car on the way to the library, if it's Tuesday or Wednesday,
which ever program they attend. They know – very, very, very young ages – they know
that they're coming to the library to do a program. (to group) Welcome. This is a program
for babies and their caregivers. So we encourage you to participate and have fun, and if
you feel that you need a break and you need to walk out, please feel free to do so. (in
interview) Baby time books need to be very, very basic – very short story line, if at all. We
like reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin. It teaches them cadence, it teaches
them sequencing, has bright, colorful illustrations. That's the type of book that you can
use for babytime. (to group) A told B, and B told C, I'll meet you at the top of the coconut
tree. Whee, said D to E-F-G. I'll beat you to the top of the coconut tree. Chicka chicka
boom boom, will there be enough room? (in interview) I can remember something that
happened when I first started working as a librarian. We called it a lapsit. And it was a
program for very young children. And there was this woman who came who was from El
Salvador, like I am, and she had a granddaughter. The granddaughter had some
developmental issues, and we weren't sure how much she was getting. She was quiet and
not very participatory, but the grandmother was very consistent about bringing her and
incorporating her into the activities. One day this little girl actually did the motions to ‘if
you're happy and you know it.' And I noticed it, and the grandmother noticed it. And so,
when the program was over I said, did you see? And she said, yes, I did see. And that
actually brought tears to my eyes, because I never thought that that little girl was actually
going to make it.
GROUP SINGING: [Itsy Bitsy Spider in Spanish] Salio el sol y todo lo seco. Y la arana
pequenita subio, subio, subio.
PEG PERRY: You're stupid to be a librarian if you don't like kids because you've got 'em,
whether you like 'em or not. There were some children on the library lawn using very foul
language, so I went out there and said, you're not to speak that way on library property. I
know more four-letter words than you'll even dream of, so stop it now. And they looked
very terrified and stopped. The library in Collinsville, which was the only public library,
was open four hours a day with no telephone. So we had to fix that first. Went down and
raised hell with the town officials 'til we got some money and got a phone. And then they
needed a library at Cherry Brook School, so I got the Mother's Club volunteers and we put
in a library there. Questions were the great thing. If they didn't ask questions, there
wouldn't be any fun.
MONTAGE – "Reference, Miss Watson" from Desk Set
WOMAN: Reference, Miss Watson... Reference, Miss Watson... Reference, Miss
Watson... Reference, Miss Watson... Reference, Miss Watson
MAN: Reference, Miss Watson speaking...
PEG PERRY: They wanted to ask me a question. They said, is it true that you're Katherine
Hepburn's sister? And I said, yes. And their faces fell and they said, well, what are you
doing in the Canton Public Library? But we read a lot. As a family we read aloud, too. My
mother would read aloud, and my father would read aloud, and we'd all listen. Katty was
golf state champion when she was sixteen. She was very good. And I think dad expected
the rest of us to be that good, but we weren't. She was the best.
FILM CLIP – Desk Set
MISS WATSON: Ruthie, you got any memos you want me to check?
RUTHIE: There are a few, Miss Watson. Here they are, if you would.
MISS WATSON: I'd say the Times Index for this. The Old Farmer's Almanac for this, if
not U.S. Weather Information Service. But check the Farmer's Almanac first and
save time. This is from the Bible. Book of Amos, chapter one.
RUTHIE: Thank you.
MARILYN MARTIN: My name is Marilyn Martin. I'm a library media specialist in the Denver
Public Schools, and I'm in the best job in the world.
YOUNG BOY: She has kind of crinkles in her cheek, only a little bit at the bottom like
around here, and maybe really tiny ones around there, but she still looks nice.
TEEN GIRL: Mrs. Martin was my elementary school librarian, and I got to spend a lot of
time up here just because - I don't know - at this school, being in the library was always
MARILYN MARTIN: (to children) ...the cow. We use the cow for milk, we use it for cheese,
we use it for leather.
TEEN GIRL: And she was just a really fun and loving person and definitely gave me a lot
of the things that I have now in life, you know.
PETER SHERMAN: Marilyn Martin, our librarian, is an incredible librarian. It's evident just
from walking into the library. She's got this amazing space that is both welcoming and
just really, really rich with books and resources. One of the great opportunities about a
librarian in a school like ours is that they get to know all of the students. It's a really
central place, and so kids are coming through all the time. And parents come through
MARILYN MARTIN: I do have a great advantage with the children because I see them, oh,
maybe once a week – maybe every day if I'm on outside duty, or if they're coming in to do
special projects – but I don't see them all day long. I notice them in a different way. And I
notice the children who don't hear well. I notice the children who aren't seeing well. I also
notice – I noticed one child, for instance, that – they were sitting in a circle with me, and I
thought she was falling asleep, but she wasn't. I noticed the number of times, and I
commented on it to the teacher. She was having petit mal seizures.
PETER SHERMAN: As kids walk through the door, Marilyn just says to them, you know,
how did you like that book? And she's aware of what kids are checking out and what
they're reading, and that's such an integral part to our school – to the literacy piece. But
she also knows kids psychologically and emotionally.
MARILYN MARTIN: There's not many negatives, being a school librarian. I think we're
lucky. I think I'm lucky. I'm a very lucky person.
FILM CLIP – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
WOMAN: Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy? Are you sure you want this?
YOUNG GIRL: Yes, ma'am.
WOMAN: Don't you think it's a trifle over your head?
YOUNG GIRL: Yes, ma'am.
WOMAN: Well then, why did you select it?
YOUNG GIRL: Well, I read all the authors beginning with A's and all the B's down to
Burton. It's next.
WOMAN: You mean you're trying to read your way straight through the library?
YOUNG GIRL: Yes, ma'am.
WOMAN: But a book like this, you'll only be confused.
YOUNG GIRL: Please, I want to read clear through the alphabet. I want to know
everything in the world.
WOMAN: Well, all right. Only do something for me will you? Take another book,
too. Here. When Knighthood Was in Flower, just for fun. It's Saturday. I'll have a
headache thinking about you wrestling with the Anatomy of Melancholy all
weekend. Will you?
YOUNG GIRL: Yes, ma'am.
FILM CLIP – Goodbye, Columbus
YOUNG BOY: Hey mister, what is this place?
MAN: That's Tahiti. It's an island in the Pacific Ocean.
YOUNG BOY: That ain't no place you could go, is it? Like a resort?
MAN: Mmm, you could go there, I suppose. It's very far. People live there.
YOUNG BOY: Look at this one. Man, ain't that the life. Who took these pictures?
MAN: No. He didn't take them, he painted them – Paul Gauguin. He was a
YOUNG BOY: He's a white man or a colored man?
MAN: He's white.
YOUNG BOY: Oh, I knew that.
FILM CLIP – Matilda
NARRATOR: Mrs. Phelps offered Matilda some valuable library information.
MRS. PHELPS: You know, you can have your very own library card, and then you
can take books home, and you wouldn't have to walk here every day. You could
take as many as you like.
MATILDA: That would be wonderful.
NARRATOR: So Matilda's strong, young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the
voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world, like ships
onto the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You
are not alone.
FILM CLIP – Dangerous Minds
TEEN GIRL: Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave
at close of day. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
PAT LAWTON: I remember it was after church one day. I was very small. I was not even in
the first grade. And my parents were talking to the nuns that were going to be my
teachers. And they were talking – something came up about reading – and I remember
thinking, oh my god, how are they going to do this? How are they – how are they going
to teach me how to read?
ROGER SIMPSON: The library have given me a chance to better my life. You see, at the
age of forty I became homeless. I had problems with my reading and writing. I had to
drop out of school in the ninth grade to go to work. So I came to the Center for Reading
and Writing, also known as CRW, at Tompkins Square Library. Since I have been coming to
the library, I have achieved a place to stay of my own and my first bank account. I have a
good job and paying my own rent. Now I'm standing on my own two feet again. So I
love this library. Thank you.
ESL INSTRUCTOR: Their teeth are chattering. Can you say chattering? Chattering.
CLARA RAMIREZ: She has an interest in every single person. Each problem is important
for her. You can feel here important for her.
ESL INSTRUCTOR: I don't hear the chattering.
CLARA RAMIREZ: (in class) How do you spell chattering?
ESL INSTRUCTOR: How do you spell chattering? C...?
ESL INSTRUCTOR: Good for you. That's excellent, Yumi.
CLARA RAMIREZ: I want to say thank you very much to Eileen, to the library. It's a great
opportunity, and something very special that happened with me is I think I have good
knowledge in English, but I have a lot of confusion. In here, class by class, I have a clear
step by step. So I'm really enjoying the classes here. Thank you very much.
OLISH TUNSTALL: I had an eighth-grade education. I'm currently one class short for my
AA degree from Pan College. I have my x-ray certification – I'm certified by the State of
California as an x-ray tech. And I have to admit, the opportunities that were available to
me – this is just a way for me to get back.
ABRAHAM GLASPER: Well I actually had a guy, his problem was phonics – phonetics, the
pronunciation of letters together. And he had been in the program awhile, and I had
been away for a while. No one could seem to, you know, get him going. After having sat
down with him, and he explained to me exactly what his problem was, and it was like an
epiphany. He doesn't know the function of two letters together and the sound that they
make. So I ran around the room, attempting to find a book that dealt with sounds. And
once we get him that book, and he was able to learn, you know – the sound that T-H
makes, the sound that F-R makes. And you just saw his progression in reading just
skyrocketed. And for me, you know, being that he was in here all this time feeling as
though he couldn't find any help, and I was instrumental in giving him that help – that
was a pretty cool feeling. Yeah.
INMATE: Everybody comes to jail is scared. It's important to catch the guys when they
first come through here, either through the reception or transfer from other facilities. We
try to befriend him and let him know, hey, this is a place – and do the best thing that you
can with your time while you're here.
PHILLIP SEILER: I mean you see how busy it is here tonight, and there's actually a lot of
students that aren't here because they're playing an outside team – they're playing soccer
out – you know, they're playing a team that came from outside, and so, there's quite a few
students that aren't even here.
OLISH TUNSTALL: The Marin Literacy Library is pretty much – they're like our outside
sponsor. So they pretty much sponsor a lot of stuff for us. They provide the tutor
training, to train the tutors that come in, any supplies or books or materials we need as far
as different, various stuff. They supply all that for us. She's an excellent sponsor. She's
been behind the program from day one.
JANE CURTIS: So library literacy programs are student-based, they're learner-centered.
And what we wanted to do was create a program inside San Quentin State Prison – and
really any correctional institution – where we would change the values and the culture of
the community. We wanted to create an opportunity for inmates who have learned to
read and improve their literacy skills on their own to be able to give something to, maybe,
guys that were going to get out sooner than they were, younger guys – mentor them.
And we wanted to support them in that effort, because we know that the best kind of
teacher is the one who sits on the same side of the table with you.
PHILLIP SEILER: I just happened to be reading right now a pretty good book. I read a lot
of different books. I read some books for fun, and there's other books that I read. I read,
like, self-help type books, like that. You know, it's the first step to anything, really. I mean,
you know, you start to learn how to read from age – what, three or four years old, you're
getting read books and learning how to read. And so it's like the first step into learning
some basics and being able to move on to whatever kind of, you know, education skills or
working skills or whatever. It's like the first step. I've had a few students where they was
just really basic, down to like the, I don't know, fourth, fifth grade or whatever – really low
– and it's just like they're rewarded. They're rewarded over and over, because you go
through that process so quickly, and it just gets their esteem and their momentum going
to move on to other things, other than academic.
OLISH TUNSTALL: Well, I have a parole hearing coming up next year, so, you know,
hopefully I'll get a day to be paroled, you know. Right now I'm at twenty-three years
PHILLIP SEILER: My name is Phil Seiler. I'm from Sacramento.
ABRAHAM GLASPER: Abraham Glasper.
OLISH TUNSTALL: My name is Olish Tunstall. I'm from San Bernardino, California.
EUGENIE PRIME: To me, the library represents all that freedom represents. I mean if you
really think about what is freedom? Freedom simply means the power to choose – that I
am empowered to have choices. I have choices as I'm exposed to information. So think of
the library as that living symbol of freedom.
PAT LAWTON: We're not just a bunch of women sitting around making marks on pages.
KATHLEEN DUNN: And hello again, I'm Kathleen Dunn. You're listening to the ideas
network of Wisconsin Public Radio. Nancy Pearl is here in person. She's a regular
commentator about books on National Public Radio. I read whatever she recommends.
She's the author of the best-seller, Book Lust. In 2003, More Book Lust came out, and she's
now working on book recommendations for children and also for teenagers...
NANCY PEARL: (in interview) In my experience, books are something that people are
absolutely ravenous about. And the books that people love, they want to share with
other people. (on the radio) I think that one of the reasons that book clubs are so popular
now is that, in many ways, people are really – maybe desperate is too strong a word – but
really interested in making connections beyond the very superficial kinds of interchanges
that you have with people. And I once tested this, and I went for a whole day without
talking to anybody. I mean I went to the grocery store and did my self-checkout at the
grocery store. You can get your gasoline without ever talking to anybody. I mean you
can do your banking without – so I think, I think that people are really eager to find
people to talk about – about something that's not superficial. (in interview) For me, what's
so exciting about book discussions, particularly book discussions that take place in public
spaces, like libraries or community centers, is that all of those surface differences are, in
many ways, not eradicated, but we move beyond those surface differences to see the
common humanity. The fact that we all live in this world, and we all are going to
experience the death of people who we love, and we all are going to grow old. And by
reading a book in which the character in some ways does some of those things, or even
just hints that some of those things are going to occur, I think is a way of really saying,
wow, you think that way, too?
KATHLEEN DUNN: You ought to do a book now on how to remember the books that
you've read, because that's how you astound me. Does that happen to you? All these
books I've read and I think, what's the name of that book? What's the name of that book?
And it's right there for you.
NANCY PEARL: ...by Marjan Satrapi called Persepolis... this is a book called Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman... there's a book called e=mc 2... Doris Kearns Goodwin's new book... and
that book, Lincoln's Melancholy... Kite Runner would be a good one... A Game of
Thrones, it's called... Nadine Gordimer... I think those would be really good books to read
in conjunction with reading Lolita in Tehran... It's set in London... which is about Sri
Lanka... her story of growing up... is nonfiction about Theodore Roosevelt... which is
such an interesting book... a wonderful book that I just love... gorgeous, gorgeous
writing... just heartbreakingly sad... the birth of the comic book industry, which is so
interesting... terrific memoir... a wonderful novel.
KATHLEEN DUNN: So, Nancy, you got a book to recommend? This was wonderful.
Applause for Nancy Pearl. Thank you so much.
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: We have a collection of probably thirty – in thirty languages – but
some of them are collected to a lesser degree and some to a pretty extensive degree, and
the most common would be Spanish. And we have a large collection of Spanish books,
and also Khmai, which is the language of Cambodia. Long Beach has the largest
population of Cambodians outside of Cambodia proper. In a short time, we're going to
be having a Cambodian cultural festival here at the library that we are cosponsoring, and
it's being organized by a Cambodian rapper that I became acquainted with.
praCh Ly: (rapping) ...and damn, it seemed hard. An immigrant – in the wallet, a green
card. A product of Cambodia, a beautiful country, but Pol Pot's war tore that apart. Now I
live with shattered dreams and broken boulevards. And I can still feel it. My past is
poisonous. I should conceal it and leave alone...
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: Some of his lyrics were included in this book published by the
University of Hawaii on Cambodian artists. And we got to talking and we started to talk
about, you know, what we could do to promote Cambodian culture and encourage
Cambodian writers here in Long Beach, because we have such a large Cambodian
1950s ANNOUNCER: Then there are the specialists in subject resources, particularly in
scientific, technical, and social science fields, who render a bibliographic and reference
service to public, university, and special libraries. The specialized library in an industrial
plant is different from the one owned by a law firm. Hospital librarians provide special
service for patients and hospital personnel.
LARRY SEIDL: Oh, my goodness. The librarians at Denver Health Medical Center saved my
bacon on more than one occasion.
RUTH GILBERT: Librarians have always felt that they were a part – sometimes not
acknowledged greatly – but a part of patient care, education, and research – the three
directives of hospitals.
RHEA LAWSON: Just recently, I sat with a woman who said, oh, you're a librarian? I like
books. They usually go – I'm a librarian, I like books. And I just told her that, well, you
know, I'm responsible for a multimillion-dollar business called a library – called a public
library. I have a staff of six hundred and we have thirty-seven locations. So, I really am a
businesswoman running a business, and I'm not just shelving books.
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: You need special skills and special training. You know, but yes, I do
come up against that quite often, and it troubles me. You know – maybe it's because
librarians make it look so easy, what we do.
FILM CLIP – Librarian: Quest for the Spear
WOMAN: What makes you think you could be the librarian?
MAN: I know the Dewey decimal system, library of congress, research paper
orthodoxy, web searching. I could set up an RSS feed.
WOMAN: Everybody knows that. They're librarians.
PAT LAWTON: When people come up to me at parties and say, you know, what do you
do? And I say that I teach. And what do you teach specifically? And I'll say, cataloguing.
And they will then, most often go, oh, like 001, 002. And I laugh and I take it, you know.
But what they don't understand – and I think this is a real misconception – that the 001,
002, is a fairly complicated technology, okay? So, it's just my opportunity here to disabuse
people of the notion that cataloguing is mindless. It is one of the most intellectually
stimulating disciplines that I've ever engaged in.
FILM CLIP – Party Girl
OLD WOMAN: For your information, Freud's study of Dora is not a biography. It is
the cornerstone of his psychoanalysis. That's psychology, dear. The psychology
section is, for your information, in the 100s, along with philosophy and logic.
YOUNG WOMAN: (reading to herself) Classification provides a system for organizing a
universe of items, be they objects, concepts, or records...
PAT LAWTON: Prior to cataloguing records in computer systems, you had very limited
fields. They could only have x-number, like ten, characters per field. It was very, very
limited. And librarians came in and said, but I don't know how long the title's going to be.
I have to get the whole title in there. And it pushed computer scientists to explore the
idea of a variable-length field – of a field that could expand. And these kinds of
contributions continue on and on. What librarianship brings in cataloguers – in particular
to the organization of information – is at play in Yahoo, it's at play in Google.
EUGENIE PRIME: We are in a problem-solving business. Not merely throwing information
at people, but solving problems. And not any problem. The real problem. We help
people define what their information need is. Many people do not know what it is they
really need. And they ask questions, and it's not the real question. We have a way of
getting people to share with us what that problem is and then are able to package the
answer in a way they would want. Google can't meet that, no way. The catalogue was the
first tool that was hyperlinks. You go to your catalogue, and you look at the tracings on
the catalogue card, and it told you that if you're looking on this subject, if you look at this
other book – it is related. The first hyperlink! The people thought that they created
hyperlink with the 'net. Come on, guys.
CHRIS EWING: Everybody thinks that everything's on the internet, but true data is hard to
find on the internet. And that's why we use the user feedback, and that's why we use the
stakeholders or the people who own the content. Why do you have this content? Who
are you trying to get it to? Why are you trying to get it to them? And what do you want
them to get out of it? You know, okay, you know that. Well, I take a user, and I say, here's
the content that this person wants you to see, and this is the piece they want you to get
out of it. What steps would you take to get to that information? And then I take those
two, and I connect them together in the end. And that's what causes, you know, a very
nice storyboarding of the website.
EUGENIE PRIME: A lot of who we are, a lot of our culture, is not only in words. It's not
written. It's also in artifacts. It's also in painting. It's also in music. How do we capture
that for future generations?
PAT LAWTON: When you're dealing with text, you have text. With an image, though,
there are so many dimensions to it. Is it of a woman in a hat? Or is it about loss? What's
it of? What's it about? What's important to you? What do you want to know? Simply
women with hats? Or do you want to be able to get images that are about loss? About
love? About longing?
MONTAGE – Librarian stereotypes in films
The Music Man
WOMAN: One hears rumors about traveling salesmen.
MAN: Oh, now Miss Marian you mustn't believe everything you hear. Why, after all,
one even hears rumors about librarians.
The Station Agent
MAN #1: Hey, when were blimps invented?
WOMAN: I have no idea.
MAN #2: Yeah, me neither. You know, you can go down to the library and ask that
WOMAN: She is cute.
MAN #2: It's the librarian fantasy, man – glasses off, hair down, books flying.
MAN #1: She doesn't wear glasses.
WOMAN: Buy her some, it's worth it.
No Man of Her Own
MAN: Uh, well – that, uh, that blue...
WOMAN: The Land of Romance?
MAN: Oh, no, no, no. No, no – uh, that blue...
WOMAN: The British Isles?
MAN: No, no.
WOMAN: I think there's something you should know. I find libraries very erotic.
The smell of old books, the silence, the long aisles, to be lost in the stacks.
WOMAN #1: Bon voyage!
WOMAN #2: Goodbye, goodbye! Is this your first Mediterranean cruise?
MAN: Yes, but don't tell anybody.
WOMAN #2: Why not?
MAN: Because I'm the captain.
WOMAN #2: Oh, well, I'll help you steer. I'm independently wealthy, you know. I've
made this cruise often.
MAN: Yes, yes, there's something about the way you wear that pencil in your hair
that spells money.
MAN: Uh, look, we're allowed to use the Radcliffe Library.
WOMAN: I am not talking legality, Preppie, I'm talking ethics. I mean Harvard's got
five million books, and Radcliffe's got a few lousy thousand.
MAN: All I want is one. I've got an hour exam tomorrow, dammit.
WOMAN: Please. Watch your profanity, Preppie.
MAN: Hey, what makes you so sure I went to prep school?
WOMAN: You look stupid and rich.
MAN: Actually, I'm smart and poor.
WOMAN: Uh-uh, I'm smart and poor.
MAN: What makes you so smart?
WOMAN: I wouldn't go for coffee with you.
MAN: Yeah? Well, I wouldn't ask you.
WOMAN: Well, that's what makes you stupid.
The Music Man
WOMAN: Good afternoon, Mrs. Shinn.
MRS. SHINN: Don't change the subject.
WOMAN: Is something the matter?
MRS. SHINN: The same thing is the matter as is always the matter here. Look. Is
this the sort of book you give my daughter to read? This Ruby Hat of Omar Ki-ay-y
i-yi. I am appalled.
WOMAN: I did recommend it. It's beautiful Persian poetry.
MRS. SHINN: It's dirty Persian poetry. People lying out in the woods, eating
sandwiches, getting drunk, with pitfall and with gin, drinking directly out of jugs
with innocent young girls? No daughter of mine has ever...
WOMAN: Mrs. Shinn, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam is a classic.
MRS. SHINN: It's a smutty book. Like most of the others you keep here, I dare say.
SUSAN SHILLINGLAW: It was a controversial text. And it was burned in St. Louis, burned
in Buffalo, burned in Kern County. There was coverage in Life Magazine – how these
stalwart men of the community, putting the book into an incinerator and trying to burn
FILM CLIP – Storm Center
MAN: How in the world did this book get in our library?
MRS. HULL: Why, I purchased it.
MAN: Do you know what it's about, Mrs. Hull?
MRS. HULL: Yes, it's about the Communist dream. It's the one Robert took out the
MAN: It's causing trouble. We've had a number of letters and phone calls about
MRS. HULL: Well, I'm sorry it's creating a commotion.
MAN: It's pure red propaganda.
MRS. HULL: Yes. It's not even subtle about it.
MAN: Then we certainly should remove it, shouldn't we?
MRS. HULL: Remove it?
MAN: That's right, remove it. You don't propose to defend it?
MRS. HULL: Well, on the contrary, I think it's a preposterous book. But don't you
want people to know how preposterous it is?
NARRATOR: Over and over again in the movies, especially in science fiction films, a
crumbling or destroyed library is synonymous with the end of civilization itself – where
human life is reduced to animal survival.
FILM CLIP – Zardoz
MAN: The truth, the truth! We killed. It was enough. Man was born to hunt and
NARRATOR: In these movies, the light of words has dimmed – words like life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness. What appears to be a book in Lady Liberty's right hand is
actually the Declaration of Independence. This symbol of the American character
embodies the light of words. Andrew Carnegie, himself an immigrant, recognized this
connection. His book-and-lamp motif appears on hundreds of Carnegie libraries across
the nation. And in 1916, a sculpture was erected on the U.S. Capitol Building that has a
young child seated next to a pile of books holding a torch. Above him is a strong female
figure, stretching out her arm as if to safeguard his serenity. This sculpture is called Peace
Protecting Genius. For all its progress, the twentieth century was the bloodiest hundred
years in all of human history. During World War II, a ten-hour bombing campaign took
place over London. This famous photo was taken of the Holland House, its library open
to the sky. In 2001, an Iranian filmmaker won the Fellini Gold Medal for his film, Kandahar,
about Afghanistan. On accepting the prize, Mohsen Makhmalbaf said: "If, during the last
25 years, the powers had poured books on these people's heads instead of bombs, no
place would be left for ignorance, tribal affinities and terrorism. And if they had planted
wheat under their feet instead of mines, millions of Afghans would not have been forced
towards death and refuge." At the dawn of the millennium, a library containing some of
the world's oldest and most precious cultural treasures was destroyed during the U.S.
invasion of Baghdad. Despite repeated warnings from librarians around the world, U.S.
soldiers could not – or would not – prevent the looting and burning of the Iraq National
Library and Museum. Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, called the destruction
"untidy." We may never know the full extent of the loss. An identical wartime tragedy
befell another priceless library in the Middle East – the library of Alexandria in 300 AD.
FILM CLIP – Cleopatra
MAN: Aristotle's manuscripts, the Platonic commentaries, the plays, the histories,
the testament of the Hebrew God, the Book of Books.
FILM CLIP – Caesar and Cleopatra
MAN #1: Help, help!
MAN #2: Who is slain?
MAN #1: Slain? Worse than the deaths of ten thousand men – loss irreparable to
MAN #3: What's happened, man?
MAN #1: The fire has spread from your ships. The library of Alexandria is in flames.
Caesar, will you go down in posterity as a barbarous soldier too ignorant to know
the value of books?
FILM CLIP – Cleopatra
MAN: We found it necessary to burn the Egyptian fleet.
CLEOPATRA: When last seen, the ships were in the water. Did you find it necessary
to burn them in the city streets?
MAN: Some merchant ships caught fire. Their burning masts fell into the streets
CLEOPATRA: One of them the great library of Alexandria.
MAN: Yes, so I've been told. I'm extremely sorry. Now if you don't mind, I must ask
you to –
CLEOPATRA: I do mind. Are you putting the fire out?
MAN: We're trying to form Egyptian prisoners into fire brigades.
CLEOPATRA: Oh, I see. Romans only start fires, is that it? How dare you and the rest
of your barbarians set fire to my library? Play conqueror all you want, mighty
Caesar, but neither you nor any other barbarian has the right to destroy one
EUGENIE PRIME: So, should you cry for your library? You should cry for your library,
because to lose the library is to lose that symbol of freedom. To lose that symbol of
freedom. That's why I think libraries are the ones who are very responsive to the issues of
the Patriot Act.
MARTIN GARNAR: It's uniting and strengthening America by providing appropriate tools
required to intercept and obstruct terrorism. If they had given as much thought to the
law, as they had to the cute name, perhaps the law wouldn't be so bad. In the past there
have been concerns about witch-hunts – for Communists in the '50s, radicals in the '70s,
and now we're looking for terrorists in the twenty-first century. And there are valid
concerns about all of these things. Librarians would like to submit that you do not need
to see what someone is reading to understand what they're going to do. One of the
scariest concerns that librarians have is that the FBI wants administrative subpoenas,
which means that they don't even talk to a judge anymore. This applies not only to your
library records, but it applies to your financial records, to your medical records, to your
business records. This is what makes us so concerned. And librarians, of course, are
mostly concerned about your library records, but when I start that list, when I'm talking
about it – say it's not just your library books. You might not care if people see what you're
reading, but you might care what kind of blood tests you had done last month.
NARRATOR: Librarians were among the first to raise the alarm over the new far-reaching
government powers of the Patriot Act. They have repeatedly asked that classified
documents relating to the FBI's activities in libraries be made available. Attorney General
John Ashcroft characterized the concerns of librarians as "hysterics." Librarians stood their
ground. For them, the right to privacy is paramount.
MARTIN GARNAR: All they have to do is work with a special agent in charge to sign off on
this administrative subpoena. No judicial review. No third party oversight. And it has the
same power to go and demand records with the gag order – without being able to tell
who's under investigation. And that's just insane.
EUGENIE PRIME: What I read in the library, how I read it, when I read it, if I read it, if I don't
is my business. That's what freedom is all about. And until we do that – we would think
that taking off our shoes when you're about to take a flight, that's your freedom – it
RAY BRADBURY: Fahrenheit 451 is a remarkable book because it was written in a library.
Back fifty-five years ago, I was quite poor. I had been married a couple of years. We had a
large family, but I had nowhere to go to write, because there were too many people in the
house. And I was wandering around UCLA one day, and I heard typing down below in
the basement, and I went down to investigate what that sound was. And sure enough, by
god, I got down there, discovered there was a typing room where, for ten cents a half an
hour, I could rent a typewriter. And I thought, oh, good god, this is a great place to write.
Well, how wonderful to be in a library writing a book about burning books.
FILM CLIP – Fahrenheit 451
MAN: Ah, Robinson Crusoe – the Negroes didn't like that because of his man,
Friday. Nietzsche – ah, Nietzsche – the Jews didn't like Nietzsche. Ah, here's a book
about lung cancer – you see all the cigarette smokers got into a panic, so for
everybody's peace of mind, we burn it. You see it's no good, Montag. We've all got
to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal. So, we
must burn the books Montag – all the books.
FILM CLIP – Storm Center
MAN: We're all to blame.
WOMAN: I'm to blame, too. I didn't fight back.
MAN: I hear you're going away. I hope you'll change your mind. You've got to
help us rebuild this library. Don't leave.
WOMAN: I have no intention of leaving. I'm going to stay here, and I'm going to
help rebuild this library. And if anybody ever again tries to remove a book from it,
he'll have to do it over my dead body.
NARRATOR: Librarians have more customers than Amazon.com. They issue more cards
than Visa and operate more outlets than McDonalds. People go to the library more often
than all professional sports combined. Susan Terrell is the longtime Library director in
Tunkhannock, a pleasant rural town near Scranton. She loves her job, but, like many
others, working as a librarian means, above all, relentless fundraising. Susan's library
serves all of Wyoming County – some 28,000 residents. She receives slightly more than a
dollar a year per person from the county's budget.
FILM CLIP – Party Girl
MAN: Every single Hannah Arendt book on the shelf was out of sequence.
WOMAN: I am so sorry. You must understand. We are reeling from budget cuts.
SUSAN TERRELL: I get so many wonderful journals and catalogues, and I read, and then I
start to salivate, because there's so many things that I cannot purchase for this library. I
read about something and I think, well, before I read any further, I don't have a lot of time
here. Let me just read and see what the price is. And most times then – whatever the
brochure is, or whatever – has to go into the trashcan, because I just know that I can't
afford that book. You know you have to pay for the heat, and you have to pay for the
phone, and you have to pay for the electricity, and you can't – what are you going to do?
Maybe you cut hours? But I couldn't do that. I couldn't stand the thought of – I mean,
who was I going to penalize? Was I going to penalize the older people, who come in in
the morning, or the people who come in with their children, or the kids who come after
school? I didn't know what to do there. The one thing you can cut or have some control
over, unfortunately, is your book budget. Without books you're not a library, but that's
where you pare down the budget when you need to save money. And it just kills me, but
that's what we have to do.
JUDY COOPER: Sometimes in the past, I've really felt like strangling the County
Commissioners. When I was library board president, we need to go to the commissioners
to ask for their help and their financial help, and it really has not been forthcoming. We
could do so much more if we had county help, but we have to keep raising money to
keep our doors open.
SUSAN TERRELL: I spend about – close to fifty percent of my time fundraising. And luckily
I enjoy it, but it's hard for me to get to the work of a librarian because I'm spending all this
time coming up with these events. We have a Christmas show... we had a run this year...
a square dance... the talent show... the garden show... a golf tournament... a wine
PAT TROWBRIDGE: This community has a lot to thank Susan Terrell for. I came to this
library nine years ago, and she told me at that time that she was going to build a new
library for this community, and within a year or two she started setting into getting the
plans, getting in touch with everybody. They had great big fund-raisers and everything
that she's been working towards is right here – what we're looking at.
NARRATOR: This is the library that Susan built. The Tunkhannock Public Library presently
occupies a brand new building, paid for one hundred percent with private donations.
Wyoming County contributed nothing.
SUSAN TERRELL: When I first started the Tunkhannock Library, we were in a building of
2700 square feet. We had no parking. We were on two floors with very steep stairs. We
were not handicap accessible. The heating system was terrible – it was often forty-two
degrees in there. We started wearing our thermal underwear on the first of October and
kept it on 'til the first of April. I had no office, so if I needed to make a private call, I would
go in and sit on the john. I hope I can retire at some point. It's hard when you work for a
nonprofit organization, because while you want to look out for yourself, and you want a
pension – I have no pension. You want more pay – they can't afford to pay. You know,
you want to go home and not worry about it, but you can't help worrying about it,
because you're the one that's paying the bills, and you're the one that sees how it's trying
to provide the best possible service on the least amount of money. So, how can you be
selfish and think about yourself?
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: A very exciting development is a new branch that we're going to be
building in Long Beach, and it's the first new library in thirty-two years. The current library
is just a tiny shoebox. It's a 2,000 square foot building. It doesn't even have a restroom in
it, which is pretty hard to imagine. You have to go outside, into the park to use the
restroom. The staff actually, when we created the Family Learning Center at this library,
we took over the staff room, and so the staff have been having their lunch and
conferences and so on in their cars. They read these, you know, what they say are horror
stories about, oh, my gosh, we're going to be reducing hours. And librarians not wanting
to accept this and say, well, you know, tough, that's the way it is, you know, we have felt
we've got to do better. I think the efforts, you know, to create a foundation and support
groups and to do these, you know – they're not even special programs. A lot of the
programs that we offer are what I think are truly core services, but they are funded by the
private sector, or operated through partnerships, which these are all good things to have
happened. But what it means is that the level of public support, through public monies,
has not really kept pace with what the needs are, and so we are always having to hustle.
And usually the funding is, you know, for a year or two years, and then we have to find
another funding source or abandon the program.
JAMIE LERUE: The issue is what purpose does the public sector have? And I think one of
the huge controversies in our time is, what is the place of the public sector? We have this
notion that the marketplace is good, but the real truth of this is that the things that are
given to government are things that you can't make money at. And then it's perverse to
turn around and say, and run it like a business – even though there was no business
opportunity there to begin with. Government is important, and I think going back to my
childhood – I talked about discovering the bookmobile – but the truth was I was raised in
a household where I had a very abusive father who always told me, you're stupid, you're
stupid. And when I found the library, what I heard was a place where when you asked a
question, they went, what a good question. Let's find out, and let's dig in and find these
answers. And so to have in every community this place where you are treated as a live
mind – as a worthwhile mind – is very, very important. And you can't make money at it if
you're charging children.
RADIO NEWS FRAGMENT: The city of Salinas, like many small and mid-sized communities,
is faced with spiraling budget shortfalls and tough choices about which programs to axe.
The next challenge will be convincing residents who voted against the November tax
measures to support the new proposal this time around. Closing the three Salinas
libraries will save the city about $3.5 million annually.
SALINAS VOTER #1: People may have to pay a little bit more in taxes. Um, I think the
future of our children is more important.
SALINAS VOTER #2: People voted no on this tax last year, and rather than respect the
view of the people, they've come back. They've declared a phony emergency.
SALINAS VOTER #3: Well, I'm embarrassed because here in Salinas we're known famously
for having John Steinbeck as our author, but we're also going to be known nationwide as
having to close our libraries. So, I mean – it's just idiotic.
SALINAS VOTER #2: Our local city council and mayor are democrats. And so obviously
they're protecting their friends, and they don't want to gore the ox of their friends.
SALINAS VOTER #1: I voted for measure V because I think it's an important issue for this
community and the future of the children. You know, my son used to be able to ride his
bike to the library at any time in the afternoon and the summer if he wanted to and just
kind of hang out, and he doesn't have that availability.
SALINAS VOTER #2: They're going to the taxpayers, trying to make the taxpayers here feel
guilty, and saying that this is the long-term battle – raising people's taxes. That's not the
NARRATOR: The library's public meeting room is, as usual, a polling place during
elections. Today, voters are streaming in to cast their ballots, which will decide the fate of
their three libraries. But although it's a Tuesday, they can't use the branch. Ironically, it's
closed due to the funding cuts.
SALINAS VOTER #3: We'd be boycotting, we'd be picketing, you know. I did that with
Cesar, you know, down here in Salinas. I've done that in Coachella Valley. He was a very
quiet man but it was a voice. It was a silent voice, but a very strong, strong voice.
SUSAN HILDRETH: There have been very few total library systems that have closed in the
United States, but I think no one anticipated the international attention that Salinas
received, and I really think that was due to the fact that it is the birthplace of one of our
most famous American authors, John Steinbeck.
JAN NEAL: Almost exactly this time last year, when measures A, B, and C failed in the city
of Salinas so we did not get the additional revenue to fund the libraries, the city council
had made the decision that the libraries would close. And there is no road map for that.
You don't just show up one day and lock the door – and no one knew that was coming.
MARIA RODDY: This is not something new. We've been at this for almost four years. Our
crisis is a long one. We have been in decline for many years. It's not new to us. We were
always hopeful that the economical situation will get better, and that we will be able to
ride the storm and, you know, a new day. But we didn't. It was the perfect storm.
JAN NEAL: Fortunately, a private foundation was started to raise money with the single
goal to keep Salinas libraries open – each one of the three of them – one day a week.
They called it Rally Salinas. The mayor spearheaded it. The way I'm feeling waiting for the
results of the election is tired. It's been a long road to go down, and now we're just about
at the end.
MARIA RODDY: It's very tiring to open the doors every day, working on three different
tracks and what-ifs.
JAN NEAL: You have your physical facilities, you have the land that the buildings sit on,
you have your collections, you have staff, you have serials – all those magazines and
newspapers – that that you have to cancel. Contracts with multiple vendors. You start to
categorize, but then when you really think down through the levels of what does it take
to get to the end of that process?
MARIA RODDY: The impact on the children of this city is going to be enormous if we were
to close. It is hard to imagine. Very difficult and very painful to imagine. There's anger.
The children are angry. The high school students have rallied twice. They're angry. They
don't understand why these things happen.
JAN NEAL: They're talking to you and expressing how upset they are or asking you, is this
true? Are libraries really going to close? Or, I know the libraries aren't going to really
close. That's not gonna happen. And you're the only person they can tell that to. They're
not going to call their councilperson up.
MARIA RODDY: Ninety percent of the time I do very well. I'm a professional. But there's
that ten percent of the time I don't do very well. And I look at politics in a different way.
After one of my story hours, one of the mothers here at this library came, and that's when
rally Salinas was in full force, and she said, you know, I don't have any money to give to
your library – to my library – but if you tell me that I can go on hunger strike and get the
PTA women in my school to go on a hunger strike, I'll go on a hunger strike – tomorrow.
And I start crying in the middle of this library. I couldn't stop crying. And I'm looking at
Cesar Chavez' picture right now. And it just – I flash back and I say, you know, Cesar died.
And he died because of all the hunger strikes he went through. He was a young man. He
shouldn't have died. That's the kind of politics I'm talking about.
JAN NEAL: It's confusing. It's disorienting. They feel, I think, that they've been abandoned
in a way.
MARIA RODDY: That's what a closed library's all about. You're being left out. You're
marginalized, and you know you are marginalized. And that is the tragedy of closing a
library. That's why we're here talking to you, because that's the passion, the commitment,
the dedication that we have as librarians to prevent that from happening. It can't happen
in the United States of America. It cannot happen.
JAN NEAL: If the worst happens, and the doors are closed, then the city has lost much
more than what the election is about.
SALINAS MAYOR: ...between fifty-seven and sixty percent that yes, they were going to
support measure V. So, I think we have to call it. I think we have to say the work was
MARIA RODDY: We have faith, we have faith, and we will continue to have faith in the
future of all libraries, not just the Salinas Public Library.
TEXT ON SCREEN: That night, Salinas Measure V passed with 61% of the vote. Plans to
restore full library service began immediately. Librarians nationwide have suffered the
loss of more than $188 million in funding to their libraries in the last four years alone.
PHILLIP SEILER: It's great. I'm glad that we could play a part in, you know, kind of getting
that ball rolling a little bit. I know there's a lot of other places that did some donations
and, you know, we got the idea, and it was a wonderful thing. You know, we get to be a
little piece of that, you know. It's good that now it's actually going to happen automatic.
You know – libraries. I mean, come on, you know?
OLISH TUNSTALL: So we gave the money to Salinas, and we made a donation to Marin.
ABRAHAM GLASPER: You know, and it was like juxtaposed with the budget – more
money for prison. And to me that just smacked – it was just wrong. I mean, how could
you bolster spending in prison and take away a library from kids? So, you know, I would
just ask them to take advantage of the opportunity that they've been blessed to get,
because, you know, the community – the powers that be – really didn't care if they had a
library or not, you know. So actually our plan worked, because it was our plan to basically
bring shame, because that was a shameful act. And heightened by the fact that an inmate
saw it, and those in free society didn't. So we feel good about that.
MARIA RODDY: If we are a democracy, and we are saying that libraries are the core of the
democratic ideal, we cannot marginalize people. Because we have the access to the world,
to information. It's a sacred place of knowledge. No one else provides that.
TEXT ON SCREEN: The U.S. Government spends around $250 million every year for all
types of libraries. That amount is spent in Iraq and Afghanistan in a single day.
RAY BRADBURY: The wonderful thing about a good library is going in blindly and
reaching your hand out, and you open a book and, well, that one's not quite it. And you
open another one, that's okay. And you open a third or fourth one, and suddenly there's
a mirror image of yourself. You're looking for yourself in the library.
EUGENIE PRIME: And I have been a librarian for nearly thirty years.
NANCY PEARL: Almost forty years.
MARIA MENA: Fifteen years.
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: Thirty-two years.
NANCY PARADISE: Fifteen months.
JAMIE LERUE: Twenty-eight years.
RUTH GILBERT: Almost forty years.
SUSAN TERRELL: I've just started my eighteenth year.
MARILYN MARTIN: Twenty really good years.
MARIA RODDY: Thirteen years.
JAN NEAL: Thirty-one years.
NANCY PEARL: People absolutely adore being librarians. And who wouldn't? I mean, it's
a perfect job.
ELEANORE SCHMIDT: I can rap, you know, but not with – I am a Read-a-saurus, a rare
breed, it's true. I've come from the past with a message for you. The dinosaurs vanished
long, long ago. They couldn't read to learn about the things that they should know. But
you can read and know – it's fun. So join me now everyone. Become a Read-a-saurus.
Hip hip hooray. If Bronto and Rex had, they would still be here today.
You won't put that on tape. But anyway...