Rating ‘The Librarians’

The TV spin-off series The Librarians finished up last week on TNT, with 10 episodes rounding out its first season. I’d earlier reviewed the premiere (the first two episodes), as seen here in this post. As I mentioned then:

I have a soft spot for “The Librarian” TV movies, which are admittedly cheesy, corny, and nerdy. They’re also fun. And that irrepressible, playful spirit all through the TV movies — lifelong learning is THE BEST, y’all! — also inhabits the spin-off series.

After watching the entire first season, I still stand by that first impression. Not every episode was great; in fact, the series as a whole was a little uneven in tone and focus. But overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and I looked forward to each new episode each week.

Logo of

What I loved:

  • The glimpses into the past of Jenkins, who manages the library annex. At first, the character seemed one-dimensional and stereotypical to me, but each episode provided a little more depth and gravitas to Jenkins, who continues to be a mysterious figure. Also, it helps that John Larroquette is so skilled at delivering wry line readings and throwing sideways shade.
  • The structure of the series and the links back to events and character traits throughout the series. Even the premiere harkened back to the original TV movies. The finale episode really paid off by referencing every episode before it. I love a series that rewards the fans who have paid attention throughout the season!
  • Variety and diversity of myths and legendary figures and artistic works
  • The chemistry of the lead cast, who all seemed comfortable with each other — there’s a sense of security for viewers to witness that kind of easy camaraderie
  • Great casting of guest actors, including Alicia Witt, Bruce Campbell, and Rene Auberjonois

What could use improvement:

  • The main villains, who still came across as quite thin and uninteresting. Criminal waste of actor Matt Frewer (who played “Max Headroom”).
  • Uneven pace and a few plots that seemingly went nowhere
  • Diversity of sets (Is that Slovakia? Looks like another Oregon forest to me! ;) ) and a special effects upgrade
  • Weak use of great guest actors
  • More use of Noah Wyle and library mainstays Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart

Rating each episode:

Here are the 10 episodes, in order of my personal favorites:

  1. TIE:  The premiere, “And the Crown of King Arthur,” (1.1) and the finale, “And the Loom of Fate” (1.10). Each was strengthened by the other. The finale referenced the premiere and the entire series, which provided more gravitas (to both the plot and the characters), while the premiere episode gained points in setting the tone and overall structure, which were reinforced by the finale. Bonus points for Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart reprising their roles in the premiere!
  2. “And the Heart of Darkness” (1.8). An episode set in a haunted house. Sounds stereotypical, but the tone and storyline of the haunted house was truly chilling — and original! Loved the scene in which Jenkins ran through the cataloged list of haunted houses. The series excelled at little throwaway moments like that.
  3. “And the Fables of Doom” (1.6). An absolute delight of an episode, which involved fairy tale characters coming to life in a small town — and going on attack! Such clever twists on traditional fairy tales. Bonus points for featuring another major librarian character, played by Rene Auberjonois, plus the climax is set in the town’s public library.
  4. “And the City of Light” (1.9). Another episode that seemed to start out as one thing but ended up in a highly original place — involving the legacy of Nikola Tesla, no less! Touching emotional connection between series regular Christian Kane and guest actor Haley Webb, who functions as the town’s archivist.
  5. “And the Sword in the Stone” (1.2). The second episode and one that cemented the structure of the librarians-in-training. Expect tears for the “sword in the stone” of the title.
  6. “And the Apple of Discord” (1.5). Flynn returns in this episode that features dragons who have been awoken and start wreaking havoc around the world. (As dragons are wont to do.) Eye-rolling special effects — or lack thereof. The highlight is the scene demonstrating just how dangerous Cassandra’s skills can be.
  7. “And the Horns of a Dilemma” (1.3). Standard episode that provided a twist on the labyrinth and the Minotaur myth. It earned points for how it updated the concept of the labyrinth, but lost points for its cheesy portrayal of the Minotaur in various guises.
  8. “And Santa’s Midnight Run” (1.4). I soooooo wanted to love this Christmas-themed episode — Santa gets kidnapped! — and Bruce Campbell as Santa is an absolute hoot. However, the pace really lagged in the second half of the episode, and the ending was particularly cringe-worthy.
  9. “And the Rule of Three” (1.7). An episode set at a science fair and a mash-up of science and magic. Brilliant casting of Alicia Witt, but once again, they didn’t know how to make the best use of what they had. Lame story and confusing ending.

Last but not least, my favorite line from the series, which was cleverly remixed in the finale:

I’m offering you a life of mystery and adventure. More than that, I’m offering you an opportunity to make a difference. Save the world every week.

Until next week, then… :)

Review of ‘A House of Light and Stone’ and author Q+A

Cover of 'A House of Light & Stone'At the end of last year, I was quite excited when author E.J. Runyon asked me to review her debut novel, A House of Light and Stone. She piqued my interest when she said that a librarian had a prominent role in the book. :)

The novel, set in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, is revealed through the clear-eyed gaze of a young girl named Duffy (short for “Defoe”).

Growing up is never easy, but for young Duffy Chavez, whose childhood is anything but innocent, the journey is particularly painful.

Swimming against the tides of her troubled family as well as her own cultural identity, she struggles with the cards she has been dealt. Buoyed up by the belief of a select few, she strives to achieve the kind of self-knowledge that comes so naturally to the ‘real girls’ all around her. As gaps in the narrative begin to fill, and the truth surrounding Duffy’s birth is unearthed, her determination to succeed is rendered all the more astounding.

E.J. sent me an e-book version — my first book to read on my laptop’s Kindle app! I have to admit, it took me a while to get used to e-book reading. The format kept throwing me off. But once I got over that — and changed the settings to more closely resemble a regular book, as seen below — I found myself getting into Duffy’s story.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot of e-book version of 'A House of Light & Stone'

It is a YA novel in the sense that Duffy, the protagonist, is a young adult. The themes, however, transcend age or audience limitations, and I found myself harkening back to my own childhood and memories as I read Duffy’s story. Yes, I cried at certain parts. I definitely can identify with the “curse of responsibility” placed on Duffy’s young shoulders. The writing is sensitive, as befitting the plot of a young girl’s quest to discover herself. This kind of novel depends hugely on how much the reader can identify or empathize with the main character, and I found Duffy endlessly interesting, a character who drew me in while also not revealing all of herself all at once.

And yes, there is indeed a librarian in the book! Duffy signs up for a summer writing course at a local public library, led by young adult librarian Miss Patricia. There are also interesting library bits here and there throughout the book that reveal, I believe, the author’s insight into library organization and structure, as well as a personal love of libraries. That made me smile. :D

Front entrance of Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library

Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library – Los Angeles Public Library system

The public library branch is the Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library, and yes, it is indeed a branch library of the Los Angeles Public Library system, located in the Boyle Heights area — the same setting as the book.

I wrote down questions as I read through the book, as I thought it would be fun to include a little author Q+A with this review. I’m so glad E.J. Runyon was up for it!


Q: The details of the Robert Louis Stevenson Branch Library felt too detailed NOT to be real. Was this your public library while growing up? If not, have you been there?

A:  I’d lived in 7 different houses by age 10, and the city of Boyle Heights was indeed where this one was, so I’ve used what I know in my writing. And I did walk and find many books there with my sister.

But it was only one of several that could be called my ‘Childhood library’. School libraries held just as big a pull for me.


Q:  I loved Duffy’s sentiment that “I thought never being without books should definitely be on my Best Life list.” Are libraries (public OR personal) included in your own Best Life list?

A:  Most definitely. Aside for those childhood libraries, before my Freshman year, I worked my first Summer work experience job in my high school library. From there I spent time working at the Public Library in town for a few semesters while in HS. And during my community college days (in my 40’s) I worked in the campus library, again as a work experience student.


Q:  Have libraries or librarians been a personal influence in your life as a writer and/or editor?

A:  Libraries, and the librarians in them, run all though my existence. I know the spaces and character traits well. Possibly why I added that element into the novel. There have been several, some I still remember by name and location, some I’ve not. I used to read the bound volumes of ‘Reader’s Guide to Periodic Literature’ like they were novels. So I was ‘using what you know’, in my storytelling.


Q:  Do you share Duffy’s and Joanna’s opinion that “we both disagreed with the Deweys about putting Buildings there [in the 700s Arts call number section].” (That made me laugh, especially after watching a recent episode of ‘The Librarians’ TV show, in which the librarian-in-training who is an art expert complained that “Architecture is just art we live in. Why doesn’t anybody get that?”)

A:  Well, when you list the other subsections, you do have to admit, that both the 710s and 720s do stand out from the others. Though I can’t see any other slot to move them to.

[Editor’s note:  Click here to browse the Dewey Decimal classification system in the 700s]


Q:  Was Miss Patricia based on any real-life librarian in your life?

A:  Not literally, not taking one person and adding her to my novel. But I did have librarians who did matter hugely in my life. Specifically at age 6/7 at Eastman Ave Elementary School, and as a teen in those early work opportunities. The Character’s name and her long red hair came from a very dear friend who passed away.


Q:  Do you see Miss Patricia — a librarian and educator — as a positive role model?

A:  It was important to me to make sure none of these adult characters were singularly positive or negative, which is why things go so swimmingly then so awry in Miss Patricia’s arc. If you notice, that’s pretty much my M.O. with most of the adults here.

In the mid-1960s so many younger folks were giving back to the kids in the areas where this book is set. So for that, yes, she’s a positive character as drawn.

But, she doesn’t always do things in the best possible way and that’s my writer’s option of deeper writing; by using the more minor characters as real folks with their own agendas, rather than only using their ups and downs as stepping stones to get Duffy going along her own path within the story.

This is Duffy’s story, first and foremost, but hopefully, it’s a broader painting of a time and a world, and I’ve succeeded in populating it in realistic ways.


As a reader — and a librarian — I believe E.J. Runyon did succeed, indeed, with populating her debut novel with characters and details in realistic ways. A huge thanks to E.J. for asking me to read and review her book!

If you, dear reader, are interested in reading more about A House of Light and Stone, please visit E.J.’s personal site here at http://ej-runyon.com/. The book is available in Kindle or paperback editions through Amazon.com here at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NQ8NG8G?d. And finally, click here for another review and author interview.

A promise to a reel librarian

Every Christmas holiday, my husband and I have a tradition of binge-watching a movie- or TV-series marathon. In past years, we’ve gone through the Harry Potter movies (that took us two days to complete), Star WarsSupermanThe Thin Man series, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and so on. This year, after having watched Die Hard (1988) and Love Actually (2003) after Thanksgiving, we chose Alan Rickman as our theme for this holiday’s movie marathon. As we left it pretty late, we selected whichever Alan Rickman movies were available to us through our own personal collection, HuluPlus (we have a subscription), and our local public library.

Reel Librarians  |  DVDs of Alan Rickman movies

One of those movies was the 2013 period film A Promise, based on Stefan Zweig’s novel Journey Into the Past. The plotline — as well as the resulting film — is pretty straightforward. Set in 1912 in Germany, a young, hard-working man gains the trust and confidence of an older businessman — and then falls in love with the older man’s wife. Believe me, it sounds a lot racier than the result.

It stars Richard Madden as the young man, engineer Friedrich Zeitz; Alan Rickman as businessman Karl Hoffmeister — sporting an awesome mustache; and Rebecca Hall as his wife, Lotte. One online review summed up the film this way:  “A Promise is an overwrought bodice-ripper that forgets to rip bodices.”

Friedrich, a poor young man who has graduated first in his engineering class, earns Karl Hoffmeister’s confidence through his work ethic and intelligence. Friedrich also reveals that he felt education was his only chance in life.

Much to my surprise while watching the film, A Promise includes a brief library scene. Very brief. As in 15 seconds brief.

A quarter-hour into the film, we see Friedrich in a library, his table piled high with books. He is poring over a book entitled Mexico and a map. [This makes sense later when Friedrich advises Karl to invest in a mine in Mexico. Friedrich is then the one sent to Mexico as the company’s project manager.]

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshots from 'A Promise' (2013)

While Friedrich makes notes, a male librarian slowly makes his way down the row of tables and deposits a couple of books on Friedrich’s table.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshots from 'A Promise' (2013)

How do we know he’s a librarian? Because he’s wheeling a book cart, of course! (See also my posts for City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s GoldRicochetand Chances Are, among others.)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshots from 'A Promise' (2013)

An Information Provider, for sure, and one of the most minimal ones at that, ending up in the Class IV category of films. (It didn’t surprise me that the librarian is uncredited.) Amazing that the screen time for the reel librarian in this film is about the same as for the reel librarian in WarGames — but what a difference of significance and importance between the two reel librarian portrayals!

What I did like about this scene is that it underscores Friedrich’s commitment to education and lifelong learning — and how he obviously associates the library with that education, as well. :)


By the way, if you’re interested, here are the movies we watched during our Alan Rickman marathon — a mixture of movies we had seen before along with a few new to us:

  • Two episodes of The Barchester Chronicles (1982)
  • Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves (1991)
  • Sense & Sensibility (1995)
  • Dark Harbor (1998)
  • Dogma (1999)
  • Gambit (2012)
  • A Promise (2013)

Although the qualities of the movies varied widely, we did come away with a renewed appreciation of Rickman’s immense acting talents!

2014: Reel Librarians in review

Happy 2015! The WordPress stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for Reel Librarians, so here’s a quick look back.

Here’s an excerpt from the annual report:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 33,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete 2014 report, which includes much more. And if you’re interested, click here for the 2013 report and here for the 2012 report.

Most popular posts of 2014:

The most popular posts last year were actually all published the year before, which the WordPress stats helpers choose to interpret as “Your writing has staying power!” ;)The Killing Kind vs. The Attic” post (published Oct. 23, 2013) was far and away the most popular post with over 2,500 views in 2014.

Here are the most popular posts of 2014 of those actually written and published last year:

My personal favorite posts of 2014:

I always find it an interesting exercise to take a look back and identify my own personal favorite posts of the year. Reminds me of why I dedicate so much of my spare time to this blog! Last year, I chose a personal favorite from each month; this year, I’ll keep thing simpler by choosing my top 5 favorite posts from 2014:

  • WarGames and research (Dec. 31, 2014):  My most recent post and final post of 2014 — and one of my absolute faves! This one surprised me, as I really didn’t expect much at all out of the few seconds of screen time of this film’s reel librarian — and yet the research montage scene was so layered and interesting.
  • The Lindgren trilogy (July 23, 2014):  This post finished up a series of posts I had written about the librarian in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, comparing LINDGREN the archives librarian character from the 2005 book, the 2009 Swedish film version, and the 2011 American film version.
  • Enough, said the librarian (Feb. 25, 2014):  An unexpected reel librarian portrayal in James Gandolfini’s last major film role in Enough Said. I also enjoyed researching what a “digital archivist” was.
  • Pride and Prejudice and librarians (Feb. 28, 2014):  Hello, Jane Austen — reason enough to enjoy this post. But I also enjoyed digging into the reasons why the Mr. Collins character in this 1940 film adaptation was changed from a clergyman to a librarian. I’d also like to think I was channeling Jane Austen to release some of my snark in this post. ;)
  • Review of ‘Queue Tips: Discovering Your Next Great Movie’ (Jan. 21, 2014):  This was a fun post to write, as well as a fun book to read. This was the first book I was sent a copy of and asked to review for the site — by no less than the author himself, Rob Christopher! — so it holds a sentimental place in my heart — and my bookshelf. :D

If you haven’t caught up on these reader (and personal) faves, enjoy! I’ll be back next week with another film analysis post to start off the new year!

WarGames and research

As another year draws to a close, here is a final film analysis post for 2014!

Last month, a reader left a comment on my Class IV page — films in which the reel librarian(s) plays a cameo role and is seen only briefly with little or no dialogue — about WarGames (1983).

Reel Librarians  |  Reader comment about 'WarGames'

Lo and behold, I had a personal DVD copy of this cult classic film — some might argue it’s a straight-up classic, and I would not disagree. I was looking forward to rewatching it, as I had not seen the film in years. And I was very pleased to find that WarGames holds up well, especially for a film about cutting-edge technology made in 1983. Also, part of the film’s setting is in Oregon, and it was filmed mostly in the state of Washington! :)

Screenshot of 'WarGames' trivia on IMDB.comMany retrospective reviews tout how the film was a touchstone for computer geeks, as it tapped into the psyche of the younger generation and the fun of exploring exciting technology and being creative in ways unfathomable to an older generation. I can totally see its influence today. And it was influential back then, too. I recommend reading the trivia on the film’s IMDb.com page to find out how influential it was. FASCINATING!

One major aspect of the film that gets overlooked, time and again, is about how it’s also a powerful anti-war film. That’s the message I remembered from first watching WarGames. The core message — SPOILER — is that when it comes to war, “The only winning move is not to play.” An anti-war film with the word “War” in its title, no less. A truly brilliant film that manages to be both of its time as well as timeless.

The only discordant note I found while rewatching the film is that it definitely skews male; I wish there could had been more female computer programmers in the film to inspire young females along with young males. (Ally Sheedy’s character has much-needed spunk, but let’s face it, her role in the film mostly consists of listening to Matthew Broderick’s character explain things.)

Now onto the research. There is a very important research scene in a library, as Marco mentioned in his reader comment, but the reel librarian shows up for only a few seconds toward the end of that scene. So yes, it does fall into the Class IV category of reel librarian films.

A little over a half-hour into the film, David (Matthew Broderick), begins a quest for the back door password to hack into a computer game system. From the system’s list of games, he researches the first game on the list, “Falken’s Maze,” as well as the game’s creator, Stephen Falken. (FYI, the character of “Stephen Falken” was inspired by real-life genius Stephen Hawking.)

And where does David go first to start his research? The library, of course!

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

We also learn later that he’s been skipping school to do this research — as an educator myself, something I cannot endorse — but it does provide a clue that the library featured in this research montage must be that of a college or university library. And look, as you can see above, there are call numbers on the spines of the books. It’s a real library! :)

By the way, I looked up filming locations to try and ferret out the real library used for the reel library. There are several locations listed on the film’s IMDb.com entry, and some info here on this “WarGames Filming Locations” post, but no info specific to the library. The commentary track of the director and screenwriters during the library scene also did not reveal anything about the actual library used in the film. I suspect it’s one of the libraries either at the University of Washington in Seattle or the California State University – Long Beach, but I can’t confirm that.

The following montage highlights a very important — and overlooked — aspect of research:  that it is REsearch. Meaning, you expect to search more than once. And so David does. He first finds a journal article on Falken’s maze from the Scientific American periodical.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

He then goes back to look for more articles using microfilm and a microfilm reader. (Yes, I sighed in nostalgia for microfilm. Cutting-edge technology in its day.)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

He then goes back a third time and shuffles through a card catalog drawer to locate a card for Falken’s thesis, as seen below. (More sigh of nostalgia.) Another clue that he’s researching at a college library, because the call number is a Library of Congress (LC) call number, which uses a combination of letters and numbers. (Most public and school libraries use the Dewey Decimal call number system.)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

And yes, I totally looked up that call number in WorldCat. The first part of the call number, QA76.9, is spot-on, as that’s in the call number range for computer systems and software. The Qs are for Science, and the QA subclass is for Mathematics. Also, all of the research materials in this film are super-convincing. None of the articles are real — there’s no Stephen W. Falken, of course — but the film’s prop masters used real publications, like Scientific American and The Atlantic to add an edge of verisimilitude. Also, somebody studied real library catalog cards, as that is the best faux-library catalog card I’ve ever seen onscreen. Look at all that info!

In the next clip, David then hands a card to a librarian at a counter. We only get to see the back and side of the reel librarian’s head. She appears to be younger, with contemporary clothing and a bun. (Of course.)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

The librarian then prints out a list of Falken’s publications and a brief bio; this looked to me like some kind of combined authority control file and publications bio for Falken.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

The reel librarian, only onscreen for a few seconds, does relay some very important information, to both David and the audience. First, she relays the information that Falken is deceased; later, we learn that David has printed out a copy of Falken’s obituary. We can piece together that the librarian’s information then led David to this obituary, when then led David to the backdoor password for the computer game system, when then led to the major plot of the film.


Librarian prints out Falken’s bio (includes date of Falken’s death)

obituary

 clue to password for computer game system

war games ensue and real plot of movie begins


Thanks, librarian! :D A well-deserving Information Provider.

As the director John Badham also chose to include a shot of the reel librarian using a computer to locate this important information about Falken, as seen below, the audience also associates the librarian (and library) with technology. We see David reflected in his home computer monitor several times throughout the research montage, and we ALSO see the librarian reflected in the library’s computer monitor. Therefore the audience cannot help but draw a connection, however brief and fleeting, between the two.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

He is young and a student, while she is older and part of the education establishment. However, they are both using technology, and she aids him on his quest. The significance of this reel librarian portrayal makes a much bigger impact than its few seconds of screen time initially suggest.

I also appreciate this research scene for showcasing several different types of research materials (including peer-reviewed journal articles, newspaper articles, a thesis, and a documentary video), as well as different methods of approaching research. David is persistent and creative when it comes to researching Falken — we also find out later that he even checked out a videotape of Falken from the library! — and that is a very important concept when it comes to research. There’s never just one way. There’s always a back door to research. Just like with computer systems. ;)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'WarGames' (1983)

David, a computer whiz, also knows that not everything he needs can be found through the computer. It’s an easy trap for young people to fall into — especially today — to limit themselves only to what is available online. Yes, some of the information that David finds in this 1983 movie could be found online today, but those resources would be available in different systems. And not everything is available for free on the web. Some of those resources, like the thesis, would probably be available only in a library’s print or perhaps digitized collections — and even then, available only to its users, or by special request. (It’s notoriously difficult to track down theses and dissertations, by the way. And obituaries. Just so you know. You would need a librarian’s help to find those resources.)

In addition to highlighting creativity in research, David also shows EFFORT in this research scene. As a librarian myself, I really appreciated seeing this onscreen. David tried out several avenues first by himself, and then when he hit a roadblock, he enlisted the help of a librarian. Another aid to his research! And she obviously helped, as the information she provided led him eventually to the answer, as well as the plot of the movie. Well done, David. And well done, anonymous (and uncredited) reel librarian. Together, you’ve shown a successful research process in action!

Writing this analysis post of WarGames (1983) surprised me. The research scene is only a few minutes long, and the reel librarian portrayal only a few seconds long. I wasn’t expecting to get so much from so little. But there are so many layers to this scene, as I’ve hopefully demonstrated, with a lot of useful information relayed to the audience.

Analyzing this research montage, therefore, was a maze in and of itself. A-maze-ing! (I couldn’t resist.) ;)

Next week, I’ll be back with a round-up of yearly stats. Happy New Year!

Home by Christmas

Oddly enough, there don’t seem to be that many Christmas-themed movies with reel librarians (unlike scary movies for Halloween). I’ve highlighted this issue before, including in this round-up post of reel librarian Christmas films.

My mom was super sweet to send me one of the films on that list, a 2006 TV movie called Home by Christmas. All I knew about it was that a librarian was included in the credits, and it starred Linda Hamilton. My husband and I had so.much.FUN. watching this TV movie together… although the movie itself wasn’t so fun.

Reel Librarians |  DVD of 'Home by Christmas'

The IMDB plot summary for the TV movie makes it sound really depressing (on par for a Christmas-themed film!):

After a well-to-do woman divorces her cheating husband, she ends up homeless through a series of mishaps.

An IMDb user review begins in much the same way:

Home by Christmas starts out fairly predictable and depressing, with Linda Hamilton’s character being cheated on by her husband and then going through a series of (certainly plausible) extremely hard and devastating times.

The reel librarian, listed only as “Librarian” and played by Donna White, is listed near the end on the film credits; I didn’t have high hopes for a big role for the reel librarian.

A library first gets mentioned a little over halfway into the film. Julie (Linda Hamilton) has been befriended by Selma (Brenda Crichlow), who decides to show Julie the ropes of how to stay classy while being homeless. [Not kidding.] Eventually, she convinces Julie to try for a real estate license.

Julie:  But I’m not a licensed agent!

Selma:  So get your license! Look, you study a couple of books, you take a test. It’s not like you gotta go to school. All the books you need are in the library. And it’s not like you ain’t got nothing to do.

Julie:  Good advice.

I can’t comment on how realtors might feel about that conversation nugget above… but I can comment on how much it warmed my heart to hear that last line from Selma — that if you got nothing better to do, you go to the library! Spread the Christmas cheer, y’all! ;)

My husband quipped, “A library is a homeless person’s best friend.” And there is some truth to that statement. Libraries are free and open to the public, with a warm and welcoming staff and environment, complete with soft furniture and resources to help improve people’s lives. Of all the different kinds of libraries, public libraries tend to serve the biggest homeless populations, and it’s enough of an issue to necessitate special trainings in library school as well as on the job.

The next shot in the film reveals the library interior in the film — and a side shot of the reel librarian.

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'Home by Christmas'

My husband scored again with this reaction:

I’m pretty sure that’s the librarian. There are chains on her half-moon glasses, and that’s a pretty hideous cardigan.

Julie walks around the front desk and promptly asks the librarian for the “books one studies to get ready for the real estate license exam.” (Very formal way of asking that, right?)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'Home by Christmas'

But the movie doesn’t even allow the reel librarian to answer! They just cut straight to Julie poring over a stack of books at a library table.

By the way, my husband and I had two different takes on Julie’s reference question. My husband didn’t like that Julie didn’t even bother to look for the books herself — that she went straight to the reference desk and expected immediate help. I, on the other hand, thought Julie was being efficient and probably saving time by going to the librarian first to get what she needed. (It also helped that she asked her question in a nice, friendly tone of voice, complete with a smile. I would have been glad to help her. And yes, my library has books about real estate license exams, as well.)

Also, Julie’s efficiency helps the plot be efficient. ;)

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'Home by Christmas'

Blink, and you’ll miss a brief glimpse of the reel librarian in the background above, helping another patron. My husband said, “You know it’s the librarian because of the ugly cardigan.” LOL! :D

Reel Librarians  |  Screenshot from 'Home by Christmas'

Also, about an hour into the TV movie, there are a few more short clips of Julie studying more books in the library — but no more librarian.

So that’s it for the reel librarian in this film:  less than thirty seconds and no dialog! Definitely a Class IV category of reel librarians. The reel librarian serves nominally as an Information Provider — Julie does, in fact, become a realtor by the end of the movie!

Home by Christmas is a pretty big downer for the holidays, although everything works out ok in the end. The movie wants it both ways:  to serve as a message movie for the very real and scary issue of homelessness while also sending the message that people succeed if they help themselves.

Hope your holiday season is more cheerful than this TV movie. Merry Christmas!

All about ‘The Librarian’

Can’t get enough of The Librarian or its TV series spin-off? I am a self-confessed fan, and I have posted quite often on different aspects of the original TV movies. I had fun perusing my archives again, and you might enjoy The Librarian-themed posts, as well:

The Librarian

Click collage for image details

Next week, I’ll be back with an analysis post of a Christmas film — just in time for Christmas! <<<|