Oddly enough, there don’t seem to be that many Christmas-themed movies with reel librarians (unlike scary movies for Halloween). I’ve highlighted this issue before, including in this round-up post of reel librarian Christmas films.
My mom was super sweet to send me one of the films on that list, a 2006 TV movie called Home by Christmas. All I knew about it was that a librarian was included in the credits, and it starred Linda Hamilton. My husband and I had so.much.FUN. watching this TV movie together… although the movie itself wasn’t so fun.
The IMDB plot summary for the TV movie makes it sound really depressing (on par for a Christmas-themed film!):
After a well-to-do woman divorces her cheating husband, she ends up homeless through a series of mishaps.
An IMDb user review begins in much the same way:
Home by Christmas starts out fairly predictable and depressing, with Linda Hamilton’s character being cheated on by her husband and then going through a series of (certainly plausible) extremely hard and devastating times.
The reel librarian, listed only as “Librarian” and played by Donna White, is listed near the end on the film credits; I didn’t have high hopes for a big role for the reel librarian.
A library first gets mentioned a little over halfway into the film. Julie (Linda Hamilton) has been befriended by Selma (Brenda Crichlow), who decides to show Julie the ropes of how to stay classy while being homeless. [Not kidding.] Eventually, she convinces Julie to try for a real estate license.
Julie: But I’m not a licensed agent!
Selma: So get your license! Look, you study a couple of books, you take a test. It’s not like you gotta go to school. All the books you need are in the library. And it’s not like you ain’t got nothing to do.
Julie: Good advice.
I can’t comment on how realtors might feel about that conversation nugget above… but I can comment on how much it warmed my heart to hear that last line from Selma — that if you got nothing better to do, you go to the library! Spread the Christmas cheer, y’all! 😉
My husband quipped, “A library is a homeless person’s best friend.” And there is some truth to that statement. Libraries are free and open to the public, with a warm and welcoming staff and environment, complete with soft furniture and resources to help improve people’s lives. Of all the different kinds of libraries, public libraries tend to serve the biggest homeless populations, and it’s enough of an issue to necessitate special trainings in library school as well as on the job.
The next shot in the film reveals the library interior in the film — and a side shot of the reel librarian.
My husband scored again with this reaction:
I’m pretty sure that’s the librarian. There are chains on her half-moon glasses, and that’s a pretty hideous cardigan.
Julie walks around the front desk and promptly asks the librarian for the “books one studies to get ready for the real estate license exam.” (Very formal way of asking that, right?)
But the movie doesn’t even allow the reel librarian to answer! They just cut straight to Julie poring over a stack of books at a library table.
By the way, my husband and I had two different takes on Julie’s reference question. My husband didn’t like that Julie didn’t even bother to look for the books herself — that she went straight to the reference desk and expected immediate help. I, on the other hand, thought Julie was being efficient and probably saving time by going to the librarian first to get what she needed. (It also helped that she asked her question in a nice, friendly tone of voice, complete with a smile. I would have been glad to help her. And yes, my library has books about real estate license exams, as well.)
Also, Julie’s efficiency helps the plot be efficient. 😉
Blink, and you’ll miss a brief glimpse of the reel librarian in the background above, helping another patron. My husband said, “You know it’s the librarian because of the ugly cardigan.” LOL! 😀
Also, about an hour into the TV movie, there are a few more short clips of Julie studying more books in the library — but no more librarian.
So that’s it for the reel librarian in this film: less than thirty seconds and no dialog! Definitely a Class IV category of reel librarians. The reel librarian serves nominally as an Information Provider — Julie does, in fact, become a realtor by the end of the movie!
Home by Christmas is a pretty big downer for the holidays, although everything works out ok in the end. The movie wants it both ways: to serve as a message movie for the very real and scary issue of homelessness while also sending the message that people succeed if they help themselves.
Hope your holiday season is more cheerful than this TV movie. Merry Christmas!