I have a confession to make. I often watch films set on college campuses in hopes of spying a library and/or librarian. Academia = research = libraries, right? Sometimes it works out (2002′s Abandon), and sometimes it doesn’t (see 1952′s She’s Working Her Way Through College). And the gamble did indeed pay off while watching the award-winning indie film Bloomington (2010) recently through Hulu.
The film, ostensibly set at the University of Indiana in the city of Bloomington, is a coming-of-age drama about a young woman, a former child actress on a hit TV show, who attends college in order to have a normal life. In her first semester, Jackie (Sarah Stouffer) falls in love with a female psychology professor, Catherine (Allison McAtee) – but also gets a chance to return to Hollywood. What will she choose?
The two central characters, Jackie (left) and Catherine (right), having a quiet (!) moment in the library
There are two scenes set in the college library, the first clocking in a little over a half-hour into the movie. There are several examples on my Master List of films that include sexy scenes set in libraries (see 1994′s Threesome, for example) — the same juxtaposition of sexy and serious underlies the Naughty Librarian character type, as well. And this is definitely a sexy scene, albeit a short one rooted in the psychological “reversal of self-denial” theory. When Jackie comes across Catherine working on a scholarly article in a quiet space in the library, Catherine tries out her theory. The library as a place known for keeping quiet is the key to this scene.
Catherine: So I figure if you’re so darn quiet when you don’t have to be [while making love in the privacy of Catherine's home], let’s see how quiet you can be when you absolutely have to. [leaning in to kiss Jackie]
Jackie: Are you nuts? Stop.
Catherine: Hold on to the desk. Trust me, you’re going to need it. Shhh, quiet.
They both stop short when they hear a sound (a pen dropping in surprise?), and Catherine flashes a mischievous grin.
But things take a turn for the melodramatic when Hollywood beckons Jackie back, and Catherine’s and Jackie’s love affair is discovered. Turns out, professors aren’t supposed to sleep with their students, no matter their sexuality.
Side note: Pay attention to those student and faculty manuals, y’all.
At this point, I was thinking this would end up a Class V film — a library, but no sight of a librarian — but almost at the end of the film, there’s another library scene! As Jackie is preparing to leave Bloomington at the end of the spring semester, she brings in a huge stack of books into the library and up to the front counter.
The library attendant — most likely a student library worker — is quite young, with long blonde hair and a stylish white jacket. She is played by Megan Martz, seen at right.
Library Attendant: Check out?
Jackie: No, returning actually. I just want to make sure I’m not missing any.
And while this friendly library attendant is busy checking — and my heart sang at this small scene highlighting that yes, one must return one’s library books at the end of a semester! — Catherine enters the frame. She leans over the library counter to ask the clerk a question.
Catherine: Hi, is the May edition of the journal in yet?
Library Attendant: Give me one sec.
Catherine and Jackie catch up, as they are both leaving at the end of the term. The stack of books served as a framing device to separate the two ex-lovers, with the tall stack literally creating a barrier between the two. But as the clerk dismantles the stack, as seen below, the distance between them ceases.
What goes up must come down…
Down come the walls of Jericho…
Finally, the library attendant comes back with Catherine’s article. (By the way, don’t you love how this article links back to the earlier scene in the library, in which Catherine is writing said article?! )
Library Attendant: Stark? One May edition of the Journal of Applied Psychology.
[Yes, that's a real journal. It's published by the American Psychological Association. I didn't even have to look that up! I work with psychology journals all the time.]
And with a big, bright smile, the library attendant walks away, out of the frame and out of the picture, leaving behind a Class IV portrayal of a young, helpful Information Provider.