Starring Vancouver Public Library

Last week, my husband and I traveled to Vancouver, BC, for spring break. It was my first time visiting the city, and it was a lovely trip! Vancouver has a wonderfully low-key vibe, and it is quite walkable and chock full of interesting architecture and public art. You can read a lot more daily details of our trip over on my husband’s blog.

But what does this have to do with my blog about librarians or libraries in film?

Well, the first full day we were in the city, we walked right into a film set outside the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library — twice! I have read a lot about how Vancouver is a mecca for television and film crews, and boy, is that true. There were quite a few signs around the downtown location where we were staying (right across from the library, in fact) that read something similar to, “Filming taking place in this area. If you do not want to be filmed, find an alternate route.”

The first two days we were in Vancouver, which were also sunny days, they were filming scenes outside the library for a TV pilot called “Proof,” starring Jennifer Beals as a surgeon; Kyra Sedgwick is also serving as producer, and Alex Graves is directing. Apparently, the library is serving as a hospital set for the planned series. You can see more pics of the external — and internal — filming scenes here and here, for starters. Below are some shots we captured of the experience:

Reel Librarians  |  Starring Vancouver Public Library

Scenes from the ‘Proof’ set outside the Vancouver Public Library

It was kind of an bizarre experience watching the second scene from the sidelines. We had just walked out of the library — we always visit a library every new place we travel to! — and accidentally onto the film set. And, yes, we got shooed away from the set for being actual pedestrians — which made me laugh! — so that they could film actors playing pedestrians. Cinéma vérité at its finest? 😉 You can read more details about the experience here on my husband’s blog and on his Twitter page.

That also got me thinking about other films and TV series that have used the Vancouver Public Library as a backdrop or set. It is a very distinctive building, kind of an architectural cross between the Coliseum and a snail shell. The curved walls, windows, and atrium combine for a really stunning effect. The public referendum for the building was passed in November 1990, and the public also voted on proposed building designs. The winning design was by Moshe Safdie, and the building was completed in 1995.

Reel Librarians  |  Starring Vancouver Public Library

The central branch of the Vancouver Public Library

Reel Librarians  |  Starring Vancouver Public Library

(Clockwise): Me outside the VPL; the VPL atrium; curved-wall interior of the library

Taking a quick look through Wikipedia articles (click here and here), below is at least a partial list of films that feature the library:

  • The 6th Day (library was headquarters for the cloning company)
  • 88 Minutes
  • Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (shoot-out scene filmed inside and outside the building)
  • Battle in Seattle
  • Battlestar Galactica (TV series)
  • Caprica (TV series, spin-off of Battlestar Galactica)
  • The Dead Zone (TV series)
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Fringe (TV series)
  • The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (closing sequence filmed in entrance hall)
  • Mr. Magoo (museum scenes filmed in the Central Branch entrance hall)
  • Smallville (TV series)
  • Stargate SG-1 (TV series)
  • This Means War (the library square)
  • Tru Calling (TV series, Season 2, Episode 5:  “Enough”)
  • (TV series, library square as seen here)

Do you know of any more titles to add to the list? If so, please leave a comment and let me know!


Note:  All of the pictures on this post were taken by either me or my husband.

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One comment on “Starring Vancouver Public Library

  1. […] few years ago, Bill contacted me after he came across my post on Reel Librarians about our visit to the Vancouver and the (awesome) Vancouver Public Libra…, a post that included a behind-the-scenes look at a TV pilot that was shooting at the library one […]

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