Revisiting favorites | Marian or Marion?, May 28, 2012

Continuing my “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour and revisiting past favorites on this blog…  next up is a post from May 2012, “Marian or Marion?

I’ll pause while you read the original post

Screenshot from a favorite post on Reel Librarians

Reel Librarian favorite post

Why this post?

I love that one of my favorite posts stemmed from an idea as simple as spelling. Where I started from, as you can tell from the title, was from the fact that I couldn’t ever seem to remember how to spell the name of the librarian in The Music Man, who also is the lead female role in the film. Was it spelled “Marian” with an “a” or “Marion” with an “o”?

And then my post went from there to research the character from the originated play by Meredith Willson. As I wrote back in 2012:

And lo and behold, he based the lead female role on an actual librarian! (I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not to our profession. Guess it depends on how much you like the play or subsequent adaptations.) A little snippet, “A Pair of Marians,” in the March 2005 issue of American Libraries revealed that Willson met Marian Seeley, a medical records librarian from Provo, Utah, in California during World War II. He dubbed her “Marian the Librarian.”

So Willson based his fictional Marian with an “a” on a real Marian with an “a.”

Fascinating! This is what I love so much about doing this blog and why this kind of film analysis and related research sustains me still, even after almost 20 years. I get to go on scavenger hunts and learn new things all the time, even when I don’t expect to. (Probably serves an indicator of why I also still love being a librarian.😉 )

I also reveal in that post snippets of interviews from the real-life “Marian the Librarian,” so I’d definitely go back and reread that post.

New thoughts?

So in my original post, I wrote that “maybe after writing this, I won’t have to look it up again.” Well, that hasn’t happened… I still forget sometimes how “Marian the Librarian” character name is spelled. What do I do when that happens? Look back at that post! (True story.)😀

I also find it amusing that my screenshots of Google searches back in spring 2012 serve as a kind of time capsule. So OF COURSE I did those same searches again in 2016, just to see if there were any differences. And there were! Turns out, there are even fewer search results for either spelling:

  • “Marian the Librarian” –> 72,200 results in May 2012 ; 52,600 results in July 2016
  • “Marion the Librarian” –> 41,400 results in May 2012 ; 15,900 results in July 2016

But I wonder if that has more to do with Google’s search algorithm formula than with the popularity of the character. (FYI, if you do the searches without the quotation marks, you get more results. But pro tip, the quotation marks are useful to put around phrases, so you end up with more relevant results.)

Also now, when you search for the misspelling of “Marion the Librarian,” Google auto-corrects it, although you can still choose to search for the misspelled version.

Screenshot for Google search

Dare I hope that after writing this retrospective post, I will now remember so I won’t have to look it up again?😉


I’ll be back next week to revisit another Reel Librarians favorite!

Revisiting favorites | Comparing two desk sets, Jan. 26, 2012

The next stop on my “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour and revisiting past favorites on this blog is a January 2012 post, comparing-and-contrasting the play and film versions of one of my favorite reel librarian films, Desk Set. The 1955 play first starred Shirley Booth as head librarian Bunny Watson, and the resulting 1957 film starred Katharine Hepburn as Bunny and Spencer Tracy as efficiency expert Richard Sumner.

I’ll pause while you read the original post, which also happens to have one of my favorite post titles “Comparing two desk sets (and I don’t mean furniture)“…

Screenshot from a favorite post on Reel Librarians

Screenshot from a favorite post on Reel Librarians

Why this post?

This has always been one of my favorite posts — to research, to write, and to re-read — even way back at my one-year blog anniversary, in which I identified it as one of my personal favorite posts.

It also helps that Desk Set is one of my all-time favorite reel librarian films, as showcased in both my “Hall of Fame” list as well as my “Best librarian films by decade, Part I: 1910s – 1950s” list. In the latter, here’s how I described why I love this film and the reel librarian character of Bunny Watson:

Hepburn plays the best reel librarian EVER — sassy, funny, smart as hell — a woman who isn’t afraid to downplay her professional skills or love of pretty dresses. The film crackles with wit, style, chemistry, and an enduring central issue of how technology affects libraries and librarians.

Putting together this post, comparing the play and film versions, also revealed how the Bunny Watson character originated on the page and stage as a sassy, funny, and smart woman and librarian character. Yay! I had also forgotten that Bunny was a nickname — her real name, Bonita, is mentioned in Act III of the play.

This post also serves as an early example of how this site affords me the opportunity to explore a variety of angles and perspectives in researching librarian portrayals in film. It’s not always just about the movies; it’s also fun to explore the origins of a reel librarian character, or different versions of that character.

New thoughts?

Looking back, I’ve realized that this early post from 2012 was the first of several resulting posts in which I tracked down and read the play versions of reel librarian films, including this post about the Debbie Does Dallas play and this post about comparing the play and film versions of The Philadelphia Story, which included a “shushing Quaker librarian” character in the film version.

Reel Librarians screenshot

Reel Librarians screenshot

In other presentations I’ve given in my professional work, I’ve also referenced this film and expanded on the idea I explored near the end of the post, seen above, about how the final message of the story — in both the stage and film versions — still rings true today.

“And it seems an endless debate in the library world: are libraries and librarians so easily replaced by computers and online sources? One of the (many) things I love about Desk Set is that the conclusion (you need both!) is STILL relevant today, and just as true.”


I’ll be back next week to revisit another Reel Librarians favorite!

Revisiting favorites | A brief encounter, Nov. 28, 2011

Our second stop on the “Summer of Nostalgia” tour through the Reel Librarians blog… today, I am spotlighting the “A brief encounter with a librarian” post that I wrote and published on Nov. 28, 2011.

Reel Librarians screenshot

Revisiting a favorite post on Reel Librarians

Again, I’m pausing while you reread the original post

Why this post?

I chose this post to revisit because it’s an early example of a film analysis post, in which I analyze a reel librarian portrayal in-depth. It’s also an analysis of one of my favorite films, the often-overlooked 1945 classic, Brief Encounter, starring Celia Johnson in an Oscar-nominated performance.

This post is also a great example of how I can do a lot with a little — in this case, a librarian who is onscreen for a few seconds only — and yet I wrote almost 1,000 words about it! And part of the reason why I wrote so many words about a Class IV portrayal is also one of the reasons why I enjoyed rereading this post, because I got to go off on a research tangent. In this post, I explore why the main character is checking out a book in the Boots pharmacy chain.

As I wrote then:

Boots is still around, but their lending libraries ceased in the late 1960’s. The Boots Lending Library was an example of a subscription library. You’d pay a small monthly or annual fee to the library — or a small fee per item — to be able to check out materials. Sound familiar? It’s basically the same idea as video rental stores or Netflix.

Reel Librarians screenshot

Reel Librarians screenshot

New thoughts?

This past spring, I enjoyed a lecture program about the origins of subscription libraries (aka “lending libraries” or “membership libraries” and precursors to public libraries), and how subscription libraries were one factor in helping women enter the writing profession. (There was such demand for fiction, particularly by women, that publishers started seeking out and publishing women’s writing!) It was a fascinating peek into the power of libraries throughout history, as both an agent for change in the literary world and an agent for social change, as well.

You can read more about subscription libraries here and here, as well as this interesting post about how subscription libraries might be seeing a rebirth.

Also, rereading this post makes me want to rewatch Brief Encounter… excuse me…:)


Thanks for reading this past favorite, and I’ll be back with another favorite next week!

Revisiting favorites | Soul and inspiration, Nov. 7, 2011

The first stop in my “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour and revisiting past favorites on this blog… first up is an early post from November 2011, the “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” post spotlighting my inspiration for analyzing reel librarians.

I’ll pause while you read the original post…😉

Reel Librarians screenshot

Revisiting a favorite post on Reel Librarians

As I wrote back then:

So the long-term inspiration for this blog stems deep, from my childhood love of movies and librarians. But there is another, more specific inspiration for connecting the two, to seek out and analyze reel librarians specifically.

This came in the form of the July 1997 issue of the now-defunct print version of Movieline magazine.

More specifically, I loved the article “The Drilling Fields: An Oral History of Hollywood’s Unfair Depiction of a Tragically Downtrodden Minority — Dentists” by Joe Queenan.

So after I first read this article and stopped chuckling over Queenan’s irresistible mix of smarty-pants film analysis and interesting trivia, I couldn’t help thinking…. wouldn’t this be so fun to do for librarians?!

And I’ve been having fun ever since.

Reel dentists article

Reel dentists article

Why this post?

Because, first of all, it’s nice to revisit WHY I was inspired to start analyzing librarians in film. I also sincerely believe Joe Queenan’s writing style has helped shape my own writing style. I strive for a writing style that is fun, conversational, and a bit snarky, in addition to including some (hopefully) sharp insights sprinkled throughout for a few “oh, I didn’t think about that!” kind of moments. I love analyzing reel librarian portrayals, and I want to have FUN doing that — and hopefully, it’s fun as well for my readers.:)

Reel Librarians screenshot

Reel Librarians screenshot

I’m not sure how Joe Queenan would feel if he knew that he had inspired a teenager back in 1997 to grow up and research librarian portrayals in films — for almost two decades at this point — and end up writing a weekly post about it… and doing it FOR FREE. That last part would probably have him shaking his head the most.😉

But if you ever do read this, Joe Queenan, thank you for the inspiration!

New thoughts?

I looked up to see what Joe Queenan is doing now. On his (woefully short) Wikipedia page, he’s quoted as “a self-described ‘full-time son of a bitch’,” which makes me laugh. According to his profile on The Guardian, he’s a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal, the LA Times and The Guardian, and he’s written quite a few books, including a memoir! And even just judging from the titles of articles he’s written for The Guardian — including “From Titanic to The Revenant: why don’t movie stars learn from their characters?” and “Why bad films aren’t getting the disrespect they deserve” — he’s still in fine comedic, snarky form.

And yes, if you’re wondering, I do still have that 1997 Movieline issue. I paused while packing it up to flip through the magazine again. And smile.😀


I’ll be back next week to revisit another Reel Librarians favorite!

Revisiting favorites | A summer of nostalgia

Several things have come together lately, including finishing up my current job and looking forward in the fall to starting my new job in a new state (Tacoma, Washington), as well as my upcoming 5th year blog anniversary (!!!!!) for Reel Librarians, which will occur the first week of fall term at my new job. This week is also the official start of summer, and this will be — and already is! — a summer full of packing, moving, unpacking, buying a new house, selling our old house, and getting to know a new place. And who knows how long it will take to get internet access hooked up in our new home…

Therefore, I thought it the perfect opportunity to spend some time on personal reflection and revisit some of my personal favorite posts from the past five years. Also, I have written and published over 350 (!) posts on this blog, so why not shine the spotlight on a few “oldies but goodies”?

CC-licensed cinema photo from Flickr

“Cinema 1 2 3” by Steve Snodgrass is licensed under CC BY 2.0


So here’s my plan for a “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour:

  • Embark on revisiting favorite posts from Reel Librarians for the next 12 weeks
  • I will revisit, in no particular order, 1 favorite a week on Wednesdays, starting next Wednesday, June 29, 2016; each post will include reflecting on why it’s a favorite and any new thoughts I have on the topic/film/post
  • Celebrate my 5th year blog anniversary on Sept. 21, 2016, along with a giveaway contest
  • Perfect timing for a “summer of nostalgia,” as the autumn equinox this year falls on Sept. 22!

Are y’all with me for sharing and revisiting summer favorites? Please share some of your own favorite posts in the comments!