Celebrating four years of Reel Librarians!

This week, the Reel Librarians blog celebrates its fourth anniversary! Four years of reel librarian fun, can y’all believe it?! ;)

What have YOU enjoyed so far? Please let me know and leave a comment while you’re here.

Reel Librarians

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Reel Librarians | A look at site stats, Fall 2015

No wonder Wednesday is the most popular day! That’s when I publish weekly posts on Reel Librarians.

Top 10 most popular posts this past year:

For a trip down memory lane, be sure to check out the blog’s firstsecond, and third anniversaries! :)

Rewriting the library

I recently watched the 2014 movie The Rewrite, the third film collaboration between director Marc Lawrence and actor Hugh Grant. (The other two films were 2002’s Two Weeks Notice and 2007’s Music and Lyrics, two films I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve rewatched several times.) I enjoyed The Rewrite, a film about a washed-up screenwriter, Keith Michaels (Grant), who starts teaching a screenwriting class at Binghamton University to make ends meet. Interestingly, J.K. Simmons, who plays the English department chair, was featured heavily in most of the ads, as he was coming off an Oscar nomination, and subsequent win, for Whiplash. I also loved ALL of the scenes with J.K. Simmons, and Allison Janney is also a hoot as a Jane Austen scholar and professor.

So what does this film have to do with librarians or libraries?

A few minutes into the film, after Keith Michaels arrives at Binghamton University, he walks out of a campus building. I immediately spotted the “Library” sign just to the side of the door, as seen in the screenshot below. My interest was piqued!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

I had to hold that interest, however, as there wasn’t another scene set in the library until the credits!

In a bonus scene during the film credits, we spot Grant in the library stacks, and as he takes down a book, he spots a student from his screenwriting class down the row in a private study room.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

He goes down the row and peeks in…

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

… and finds out that the student — who was known in class for being really dark and cynical and obsessed with death — is watching the film Dirty Dancing. She is also crying at the ending! The student warns him that if he tells anyone… you get the picture. ;)

I also appreciated that when she turns around, we also get a glimpse of the interior of the study rooms. Pretty spacious and organized for a private study room!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

Even though there was no librarian in this short scene, I was glad to have watched through the credits to have at least seen one scene set in the library. However, The Rewrite does end up in the Class V category, which includes films with no identifiable librarians, although they might mention librarians or have scenes set in libraries.

I read trivia that this film was director Lawrence’s “love letter to Binghamton,” where he graduated college from. I also happen to personally know a librarian colleague who works at the Binghamton University Libraries, so I was excited to contact her and get the “inside scoop.”

My librarian colleague revealed that there were hardly any scenes filmed in Binghamton — basically the scenes in which Keith Michaels leaves the airport and drives through town. The director basically recreated Binghamton University at a different campus, and recreated well-known Binghamton locations and landmarks, as well. She didn’t even know the movie was being made until she saw a picture of Hugh Grant on the local Facebook site!

As she summed up her disappointment:

“I think the reason why it bothered me so much about the Binghamton scenes (or lack of) is because this movie is an homage to Binghamton and the university. And yet, what we saw on the screen was a false representation.”

Hugh Grant also voiced a similar disappointment:  “It’s sad we couldn’t have filmed more of it here.” That was a quote from a Q&A session with the film’s director and star after they premiered the film on the Binghamton campus, as revealed in a campus magazine article. Lawrence and Grant addressed the Binghamton absence right up front during the Q&A, with the director stating, “We had no money,” and that it would have been more expensive to shoot in Binghamton rather than shooting the film around New York City.

The film does do a good job of promoting Binghamton University, but it’s a bummer that we didn’t see more of the actual campus itself — or its library! This BU blog article reveals that a lot of the campus scenes were filmed using Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus as a makeshift Binghamton campus.

So y’all KNOW I looked up the LIU’s C.W.Post library, right? Here is a visual comparison of the two libraries. In the collage below, the top building is Binghamton University’s Glenn G. Bartle Library, and the bottom building is Long Island University’s B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library on the C.W. Post campus.

Comparison of library buildings from BU and LIU

And that brings us full circle, to when Hugh Grant walks out of the building with the “Library” sign next to it, before he starts teaching his screenwriting class. (I’ll insert that screenshot again below, so you don’t have to scroll up and down.)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'The Rewrite' (2014)

You can tell by the round windows and front steps that it was the library building after all! Just not the library on the real Binghamton University campus.

Movie magic revealed… is ignorance bliss then after all? ;)

Heard but not seen

You know that old saying, “Children should be seen but not heard”? With reel librarians, that is also often literally the case — librarians seen but not heard. There are several examples in my Class IV category, including films like The Amazing Spider-Man (2012), Baby Boom (1987), Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Killer Movie (2008), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), WarGames (1983), and more.

Seen but not heard illustration

I’ve also been thinking about the opposite of that saying in relation to reel librarians — heard (or heard about) but not seen. Why? Two reasons:

  1. A recent email from a colleague and reader — the one I mentioned recently in this post — who passed on a movie title where a librarian was mentioned (but never seen).
  2. The movie You, Me, and Dupree (2006) that I analyzed in last week’s post, in which a reel librarian is a supporting character — but never actually seen onscreen. (We see parts of her, including her bare leg and back of her hair, but never her face or full body.)

Are there other reel librarians I’ve come across who are “heard but not seen”? I was intrigued, so I started doing a little research back through my Master List and archives — and an idea for a blog post was born! ;)

Son of Rusty (1947)

Michael from the Century Film Project blog emailed me recently to let me know that he had been watching the 1947 movie Son of Rusty, and his ears perked up when a librarian was mentioned. The “Rusty” series was similar to the “Lassie” series, a 1940s film series starring Rusty the dog. In Son of Rusty, Rusty’s owner, Ted, learns a lesson about respecting other people’s privacy. It’s during a related conversation that the town librarian comes up, who is known for being a snoop and busybody.

You, Me and Dupree (2006)

Molly and Carl are newlyweds, and best man Dupree crashes on their couch after he loses his job (due to attending their wedding). In an effort to get him out of the house, Molly sets Dupree up with Mandy, the “very nice librarian” at her school. Dupree and Mandy “get busy” on the first date, but Mandy ends up breaking Dupree’s heart. We never fully see her onscreen, although she is mentioned throughout the latter half of the film.

All the President’s Men (1976)

This film follows the Watergate scandal uncovered by reporters Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward. After several attempts by the reporters to locate information, a library clerk helps by giving them circulation records. There are four reel librarians credited in this film. In one earlier scene, Bernstein calls the White House Library for information, and we hear a female librarian’s voice on the phone, sounding nervous and evasive.

The Avengers (1998)

In this big-screen adaptation of the famed TV series, British agents John Steed and Emma Peel unite against Sir August De Wynter, a villain who attempts to control the world by a weather machine. In an interesting — and quite literal! — take on this “heard but not seen” theme, Patrick Macnee has a brief scene as the Ministry Archives librarian, Colonel Jones, otherwise known as  “Invisible Jones.” We see an outline of him and a pair of floating glasses! As he states, “Don’t worry about me being invisible. Other than that, I’m perfectly normal.”

There is also a few interesting variations on this “heard but not seen” theme:

  • Characters we see (and hear) onscreen who are librarians, but who are never seen inside a library setting, which I wrote about in this post. Several of these characters are in the Class II category, in which major characters are librarians but their librarian profession is not important to the plot.

Are there any other films you can think of that mention librarians we never get to see onscreen? Please leave a comment and let me know!

You, Me, Dupree, and the Naughty Librarian

You, Me, and Dupree (2006) is an odd film. It stars Owen Wilson, Kate Hudson, and Matt Dillon, and it’s directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, who also executive-produced the TV comedy, Community. You’d think those are ingredients for a potentially amusing film. But overall, those ingredients never really come together, and the half-baked film ends up feeling much longer than its 108 minutes.

It also does and does not include a reel librarian. Confusing? Stick with me.

The main plot is pretty simple:  Molly (Kate Hudson) and Carl (Matt Dillon) are newlyweds, and Carl’s best man, Dupree (Owen Wilson), crashes on their couch after he loses his job (due to attending their wedding). To put it mildly, Dupree overstays his welcome.


Almost 40 minutes into the film, Molly and Carl are arguing — again — about Dupree staying at their house. Molly is attempting to problem-solve the situation. HINT, it involves a reel librarian:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Molly:  What if he had a girlfriend?

Carl:  Good idea. But how’s a guy with no job, no car, living on somebody’s couch going to find any kind of  girlfriend?

Molly:  Our new librarian? She seems really nice.

Carl:  You want to fix Dupree up with a ‘really nice librarian’? listen, I’ve known the guy for 25 years. I think he’s more into the young, foreign, non-librarian type.

Molly:  It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Carl:  I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Cut to next scene, after Molly shows Dupree the librarian’s picture in the faculty guide:

Dupree:  I’ll do it.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

That must be some school picture! We also learn the name of this “really nice librarian,” Mandy. And that she has a car. She is a catch! As is Dupree, obviously. ;)

Molly and Carl come home after a date night to a tie on the front door handle and “Funky Cold Medina” playing inside. Their reactions mirror their earlier conversation about hooking Dupree up with the school librarian:  Carl is worried as Molly gets excited.

Carl:  Looks like Dupree brought his date home.

Molly:  What is a tie doing on our door?

Carl:  Molly, I think we ought to drive around the block a couple of times.

Molly:  Wait a minute. No way. Mandy’s a Mormon. She’s not the kind of girl to get busy on the first date.

Carl:  You fixed Dupree up with a Mormon librarian?

And Carl’s skepticism seems to be justified. I will just let the next three screenshots sum up Molly’s — and our — introduction to Mandy, the Mormon librarian:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Dupree then runs out of the house with a pillow covering his private parts and thanks Molly “for the best night of my life” while Mandy, left alone in the house with all those open candle flames, sets the house on fire. Yes, that’s right. The Mormon librarian sets the house on fire.

That sure is some flammable symbolism, y’all.

The next shot has Dupree wrapped in a blanket and sitting on the sidewalk, talking to Mandy who’s in her car. All we see of her this time is the back of her curly hair. But we do get a nice view of her bumper sticker, which reads:  DO THE DEWEY!

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

Molly and Carl, understandably, have had enough, and they blame Dupree. (Why not blame the librarian?) But Dupree is cool with that, as he plans on moving in with Mandy. Timeline reminder:  He met her yesterday.

Molly:  You sure you got a place to go?

Dupree:  Yeah, I got a place to go. I’m going to Mandy’s.

Carl:  The librarian.

Molly:  Don’t you think that’s kind of moving a little quickly, Dupree?

Dupree:  Maybe it is, but so what? Something special’s happening there. I’m not gonna fight it.

End result? Molly and Carl come home that night to find Dupree sitting in the rain, playing the song “Mandy” on his headphones. No points for what happened with his plan to move in with the librarian.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

And yet we are NOT DONE with Mandy the Mormon librarian. Almost an hour into the film, Dupree shows up to do a Career Day presentation at Molly’s school, thinking this will win Mandy back. Molly tries to let him down easy, making an excuse that Mandy “had a book that was lost.”

Every scene that mentions the reel librarian, we learn more about her. Thus far, we have learned:

  • she’s new at the school
  • she has a name, Mandy
  • she has a car
  • she’s Mormon
  • she’s ok with getting busy on the first date
  • she likes butter
  • she shaves her legs
  • she’s not to be trusted around open flames
  • she has curly, reddish hair
  • she loves the Dewey Decimal system
  • she’s not ok with Dupree crashing on her couch one day after meeting (and sleeping) with him

And here are the final things we learn about Mandy:

Molly:  There’s something you need to know about Mandy. Well, it turns out she’s a total slut, sleeping with half the male faculty.

Dupree:  What? No.

Molly:  I’m sorry.

Dupree:  My Mandy?

Molly:  Yeah. I’m sorry, I would never have set you up with her if I would have known. Ever.

Dupree:  There really aren’t any more Audrey Hepburns out there, are there? What a sucker.

This conversation continues when Molly comes home after school to find Dupree watching the end of Roman Holiday, the classic movie starring Audrey Hepburn.

Molly:  You really were serious about Audrey Hepburn.

Dupree:  She had it all. Style, grace, ethereal beauty. Just like I thought Mandy did.

Molly:  I don’t know. I have a hard time imagining Audrey Hepburn getting buttered up to “Funky Cold Medina.”

Dupree:  Really? I don’t.

All that carnage Mandy causes — setting the house on fire and breaking Dupree’s heart — and we still don’t ever get to properly see her. At first, that felt like yet another odd thing in an overall odd movie. Even though Mandy plays an arguably substantial role in the latter half of the film — she is part of the motivation for Dupree getting his act together, as he wants to win Mandy back (and he keeps trying, by the way, calling her later) — she is never technically seen onscreen. We learn so much about this reel librarian, yet we never fully see her. We hear her name dozens of times, yet she doesn’t even earn a screen credit!

So what purpose does this reel librarian serve in this film? Since she is referenced so much — and we do see parts of her — I am going to classify this film in the Class III category, which includes films with reel librarians as supporting or memorable minor characters.

For the role that “Mandy the Mormon librarian” fills, it has to be the Naughty Librarian:

  • She is definitely a flirtatious or sexually charged librarian, a seemingly conservative young woman who then “lets her hair down” outside the library.
  • Adding the detail that she’s Mormon sets up the “conservative” aspect that immediately leads to the payoff that she is not-so-conservative after all.
  • Naughty Librarians also tend to have sexual undertones in their conversation. Since we never actually hear Mandy talk, the sexual undertones in this case come from her “Do the Dewey” bumper sticker!
  • Naughty Librarians also have a tendency to become violent or exhibit otherwise criminal behavior when their love/sex desires are repressed (see Personals, Maxie, Tomcats, etc.)… and Mandy happens to set a house on fire when their lovemaking session is interrupted. Just sayin’.

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from 'You, Me and Dupree' (2006)

In this light, knowing that she fulfills the Naughty Librarian character type, it makes more sense about why we never actually see her face onscreen. That would ruin the fantasy, right? Naughty Librarians are fantasies — sometimes even violent fantasies — and without actually seeing her onscreen (or rather, just parts of her, like her bare leg and curly hair), viewers are free to conjure whatever image they have that fulfills their own personal “really nice librarian” fantasy.

So while this reel librarian portrayal is disappointing, to say the least — and equal-opportunity offensive to librarians, school teachers, Mormons, and Audrey Hepburn — it does serve up some interesting twists to the Naughty Librarian character type. Not enough for me to recommend the film — but that’s why I watch and analyze these reel librarian movies films, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Final lessons from You, Me, and Dupree? Stay safe, y’all. And don’t leave any Mormon librarians alone near open flames. ;)

A behind-the-scenes tour at the Oregon State Library

This past month, my mom (a school librarian in Texas), my husband, and I got a special treat — a behind-the-scenes tour at the Oregon State Library! It was the first time for us all, and it was a highlight of my mom’s recent visit to Oregon. I thought it would be fun to share pictures of a real library on this Reel Librarians site! :)

The Oregon State Library (OSL) was established in 1905, and the current building completed in 1939. There is a definite (but stately and subdued) Art Deco architectural style to the building, which is featured on the OSL’s website, http://www.oregon.gov/OSL, and brochure. The OSL is very near the state capitol building, which in style is quite similar to the OSL.

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library website and brochure

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library sign

One of the first stops on the library tour was the card catalog room, and I can confirm some hand-clapping at this beautiful sight. They are working with another government department to digitize all this info, but it is comforting to see an entire room of card catalog drawers.

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library card catalog room

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library card catalog drawer

The OSL is undergoing a transitional period and streamlining its services, and one of the recent changes is that the state genealogical resources have relocated to the Salem Public Library. The shelves in its previous headquarters in the OSL stand empty for the moment.

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library old genealogy room

The entire building has this geometric design motif, including in the brass elevator doors and in the ceilings.

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library ceiling and design motif

We also got to see behind-the-scenes in the closed stacks! They have a collection of reference documents, as well as an extensive collection of government documents (often called “gov docs” by librarians), as seen below.

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library government documents

We also learned quite a bit about the OSL’s Talking Book and Braille Library, which is quite extensive. It was fascinating to learn all the new technological improvements in talking books, and to know that these resources are available nationwide, in every state, free to the blind and physically handicapped! (See the NLS site for more info.)

Reel Librarians | Oregon State Library talking book collection

And OF COURSE, my mom and I had to pose by the State Library sign! We really enjoyed the behind-the-scenes tour at the OSL, and I hope y’all enjoyed these behind-the-scenes pics! :)

Reel Librarians | Posing by the Oregon State Library sign

Have you ever been to a state library? Please leave a comment and let me know!