In The Magic of Ordinary Days (2005), a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie set during World War II, a beautiful young woman (Keri Russell) agrees to an arranged marriage with a lonely, good-hearted farmer (Skeet Ulrich) due to an unplanned pregnancy. The farmer’s not the father — they’d never met before the wedding — but he’s determined to do the best by her. This film is based on Ann Howard Creel’s novel of the same name.
The brief library scene happens early in the film. A little over 10 minutes in, as they’re settling in and getting to know each other, Livy (Russell) mentions to Ray (Ulrich) that she doesn’t know how to cook. She’s an intellectual from the city, obviously a fish out of water in this rural setting.
Livy: It [cooking] shouldn’t be that hard. I can get a book from the library.
… [long pause] …
Livy: Is there a library?
Ray: Oh yeah. In La Junta.
Livy: That’s an hour away.
So a few minutes later, we see Ray driving her over to the La Junta, the nearest town. It’s pure Americana, with red brick buildings around a small town square. (Click here to visit the Woodruff Memorial Library, the current public library in La Junta, Colorado.) But Livy isn’t the one interested in checking out the library, after all — she’s too concerned with calling back home. Ray’s the one who mentions that he’ll be in the library, checking out some cookbooks for her.
The next shot (see above) cuts to a close-up on two books: Cooking is Easy by Otto Helmig, and Getting Prepared for Baby by Dr. James Graley.
Side note: I wasn’t able to find any corresponding titles/authors in WorldCat, the largest online catalog of libraries worldwide. I wonder if they made up the titles and authors for this film. And yes, I also looked up the movie’s full cast and crew on IMDb.com, but didn’t find those names listed there, either.
You knew I was going to look all that up, right?
So we go from the close-up of the books in Ray’s hands to the librarian’s hands. She looks up with a smile on her face, “Are you expecting a little one?” And after Ray confirms this, her response is a delighted, “Well, how wonderful!”
This friendly local librarian (Kira Bradley, see below) is quite young and attractive, with blonde hair pinned back in curls. Her dress (a grey, floral print dress and dark cardigan) and accessories (colorful stud earrings and beaded necklace) look conservative yet also fun and modern for the time period.
Because of this reel librarian’s warm and friendly demeanor, Ray feels confident enough to follow up with a question.
Ray: Do you have any books on Heinrich Schliemann? [Note: Livy mentioned this name while talking about what she studied in graduate school]
Librarian [puzzled expression]: Is that ‘sh’ or ‘sch’?
Ray: Your guess is as good as mine. I think he was an archaeologist.
Librarian: Let me have a look.
The librarian is obviously able to find him some information on the subject. About 50 minutes into the TV movie, Ray brings up the subject at the dinner table in an effort to connect with Livy’s interests. Success!
During this very brief scene, which lasts less than a minute, we also get glimpses of wooden bookcases, shutters, red brick, desk lamps, and a flash of a card catalog on the main check-out counter. Despite the scene’s brevity, the bright lighting and setting of this library, combined with the warmth of this Information Provider, provide a very positive portrayal overall of librarians and libraries. This public library is a resource not only for its local population, but for its rural users, as well.