Going back down the rabbit hole | Librarian misspellings and search terms

In my “Down the rabbit hole” post from July 2013, I explored site statistics for different ways and keywords people searched to get to my Reel Librarians site, which turned into a post about all the different ways people misspelled the word “librarians.”

Reel Librarians | List of common misspellings for the word librarian

List of common misspellings for the word librarian

I thought it would be fun — or maddening? or both?! — to revisit this idea and see if anyone has gotten any better at spelling the word “librarians” in the resulting three years.

Spoiler alert? They haven’t. 😦 Most common misspellings continue to include librianslibbrarians, and libarians.

Also, does anyone else itch to replicate some of the more interesting/odd keyword searches, just to see how it connects to your site? ‘Cause y’all know I totally did that!

2016:

2015: 

  • Over 15,000 keyword searches
  • Theme of searches for librarian names:
    • funny librarian names
    • funny names for librarians
    • cool librarian nicknames
    • sexy librarian names
    • common librarian names

2014:

  • Almost 12,000 keyword searches
  • Again, a theme of searches for librarian names!
    • funny librarian names
    • librarian names
    • other names for librarians
    • librarian nicknames
    • names for librarians
    • Names of librarians
    • sexy librarian names
    • naughty librarian names
    • librarian name

It was very interesting to note the recurring theme of searches for librarian names. I did a post a few years ago about names of major librarian characters, as well as a post about common screen credits and titles for reel librarians… perhaps I should revisit that theme again?

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about that idea. Or send me some additional, interesting names of major librarian characters, to add to my list! 🙂

Reader poll: A runner-up becomes the winner

The votes for the most recent reader poll are in… and y’all chose Soylent Green by a very large margin. In this 1973 sci-fi classic, librarians play a small, but important role, and are known as “Books.”

Reel Librarians reader poll winner

I will be enjoying some Soylent Green along with my Thanksgiving leftovers over the weekend (hah!). Next week I will be back with a film analysis post — stay tuned!

Reader poll of runner-ups: Choose your next adventure

Y’all have indulged my tangents the last couple of weeks (the danger of a single story for reel librarians two weeks ago and thanking librarians in book acknowledgments last week), so now I’m flipping the lens back around.

I started reader polls back in May 2014 for you to choose your next adventure, and I’ve continued doing reader polls every 6 months or so ever since. I had an idea for this next round, to select the next winner from the runner-ups of the 5 prior reader polls.

From runner-up to winner… you get to choose the next reel librarian movie I watch and analyze!

Reel Librarians | Reader poll runner-ups


Adventure (1945)

This film place second in the November 2014 reader poll. A sea-going adventurer (Clark Gable) falls for a librarian (Greer Garson), but their relationship is not smooth sailing.


An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000)

This tied for second place in the first reader poll, along with Soylent Green. It’s an animated film and includes a memorable college librarian character.


A Girl Named Tamiko (1962)

This film, available online through the Paramount Vault YouTube channel, was runner-up in the most recent reader poll, from this past spring. The title character of Tamiko, who is from a wealthy Japanese family, works as a librarian for the Foreign Press Club in Tokyo. There are a couple of scenes set in the Foreign Press Club library.


Public Access (1993)

This tied for runner-up in the scary-movie edition reader poll from Sept. 2015, along with Wilderness. In this film, director Bryan Singer’s first feature-length film, a stranger arrives in the sleepy, small town of Brewster and stirs up dark secrets with his public access TV show that asks, “What’s wrong with Brewster?” He dates the shy, young town librarian.


Soylent Green (1973)

This classic sci-fi film also tied for second place in the first reader poll, along with An Extremely Goofy Movie. The librarians in this film are known as “Books.”


Wilderness (1996)

This tied for runner-up in the scary-movie edition reader poll from Sept. 2015, along with Public Access. Amanda Ooms plays Alice White, a librarian at a British university, who has a dark secret: she locks herself away every month when she transforms into a werewolf!

Note: Originally a three-part British mini-series, I have a copy of the abridged movie version released in the U.S.


Wonder Man (1945)

This film was runner-up in the third reader poll in May 2015. Nightclub singer Buster Dingle (Danny Kaye) gets killed by a mob boss, and his spirit enters his identical twin, Edwin (also played by Kaye). Edwin, a bookworm writing a history book, gets involved with a young and attractive librarian (Virginia Mayo).


The poll will stay open through next Tuesday, Nov. 23, 10 p.m. PST.

I’ll be back next week on Wednesday with the winning runner-up!

Thanking librarians in book acknowledgments

Please allow me to go off on yet another tangent… today’s post was inspired by the book I’m currently reading (The Mystery of Agatha Christie by Gwen Robyns, a biography published in 1978, just two years after Christie’s death). As I started the book, I glanced over the Acknowledgments page, and I happened to notice that the author actually thanked librarians — not just libraries, but the librarians themselves!

As you can see in the pic below, Robyns thanked:  Mr. John Pike of the Torquay Public Library, Mr. J. M. Evelyn (Michael Underwood), Mrs. Imogen Woollard, Miss Grace Rich of the City of Westminster Public Library, Miss Jennifer Emerton of the Wallingford County Branch Library, and Dr. Michael Rhodes of the Westfield College, University of London.

Reel Librarians | Librarian acknowledgments in 'The Mystery of Agatha Christie' by Gwen Robyns

And that got me thinking… how often are librarians thanked in book acknowledgments? It turns out that I’m not alone in this question!

In 2011, Margaret Heilbrun, a former Senior Editor for the Library Journal Book Review, wrote about “Best Acknowledgments of 2011,” looking through acknowledgments of Library Journal‘s Best Books of 2011.

Librarians‚ like all mortals‚ love to be on the receiving end of gratitude. When the occasional library, archives, or special collections researcher publishes the results of all that research and expresses thanks to the library in the book’s acknowledgments, and includes the names of the staff who helped, well, the staff in question are thrilled. Natch.

You know what? It doesn’t happen often.

Heilbrun goes on to highlight Amanda Foreman, author of A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War, in which Foreman “personally names and thanks over 200 library, archives, and special collections staff members from around the world who helped her and her assistants with access to materials over the course of several years. Her acknowledgments are not only a tribute to all the women and men who enabled her work, but a tribute to her for the stamina and focus to keep track of them all systematically and name them with little fuss or muss.”

Heilbrun went on to bestow the “Amanda Foreman Award” twice more, in “Best Acknowledgments of 2012” and “Best Acknowledgments of 2013.” And Foreman herself, a Man Booker Prize Award winner, mentioned her namesake award with pride in the introductory paragraph of her 2013 “Prize-Writing” essay in The New York Times.

This post, “The Story Behind the Story: An Appreciation of Authors’ Acknowledgments,” runs through the history and complexities behind acknowledgments, noting that “There was a time when acknowledgements were brief and rare.” (Kind of like film credits, eh?, which seem to be getting longer and longer nowadays. People want credit!) Although that post doesn’t mention the practice of thanking librarians or other researchers, some commenters do!

Comment about thanking librarians in acknowledgments

Comment about thanking librarians in acknowledgments

This informative post, “Think Before You Thank: Writers & Acknowledgments,” by Kate Messner urges writers to double-check beforehand with those they want to personally acknowledge in print, to make sure they aren’t compromising those individuals. She specifically mentions librarians as examples:

A teacher or librarian who enjoys an author’s work might be delighted to see his or her name in the back of a book.  But what if that reader wants to be on a state or national awards committee and the author’s book shows up in the pile of titles to be discussed?  Suddenly, having that public thank you in the book is awkward at best and at worst, could create pressure for the person to resign from a great opportunity.

That is admittedly something I had never thought about before, but it does make sense to double-check beforehand.

But not everyone is so appreciative of librarians or libraries in their acknowledgments! This Mental Floss article highlights “7 Book Dedications that Basically Say ‘Screw You’,” including Alfie Kohn’s diss to Harvard University Libraries in his 1986 work, No Contest: The Case Against Competition.

And this satirical piece poking fun at the excesses of acknowledgments, “Acknowledgments Pages Say More Than Thanks,” has a section lampooning authors for thanking “Your Research Crew” but DOESN’T EVEN INCLUDE LIBRARIANS. Patrolmen, detectives, lawyers, forensic anthropologists, NASCAR drivers, river guides, Civil War reenactors, and circus clowns are mentioned in this section, but NOT LIBRARIANS. I know it’s satire, but ?!#!@?! Librarians ARE the Original Research Crew!

So to my fellow Research Crew members, are you intrigued enough now to start poring over the Acknowledgments pages of the books you’re reading? Have you always sought out mentions of librarians in Acknowledgments pages? Have you ever been personally thanked in any book Acknowledgments? If so, please share!

And may librarians continue to be thanked, on or off the Acknowledgments page. Even a simple smile and/or a “Thank You” in person/phone/email/chat will make our day. 😀

 

The danger of a single story for reel librarians

Last week, I attended the excellent regional ACRL-OR/WA Joint Fall Conference 2016, and the theme for this year’s conference was “Enhancing Creativity and Turning Inspiration Into Reality.” The closing keynote address was by Hannah Gascho Rempel, a faculty librarian at Oregon State University, and she talked about factors for inspiring creativity at all levels.

I wrote down lots of ideas during her keynote, and one note sparked an idea for a blog post here on Reel Librarians. At one point, Rempel mentioned Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Danger of a Single Story,” to illustrate how creativity is enhanced by collaboration and by multiple voices.

If you have not already watched this TED Talk, then please do so. Adichie is so articulate and inspiring, and I found myself connecting to what she said in so many ways. Just one of those ways involves why I began researching portrayals of librarians in film almost 20 years ago and what sustains me to keep doing it.

Let me pull out a few quotes from Adichie’s talk and explore how, in my mind, they connect to researching reel librarians:

So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become. [at 9:27]

All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only those negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me. [at 12:58]

The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. [at 13:11]

What if someone’s first (cinematic) or ONLY encounter with a librarian was through It’s a Wonderful Life (in which the main female lead becomes a spinster librarian, weak and afraid of men)? Or had only seen Big Bully, in which the first thing an elderly school librarian remembers is how many days overdue a library book is? What is they had never seen, or known about, the dynamic and varied reel librarian characters in Desk Set or Party Girl or the librarian hero in Something Wicked This Way Comes?

I am lucky in that I am a librarian who grew up in a family of educators. I knew there was a difference between the Spinster Librarian I saw in It’s a Wonderful Life and my mother, a real-life school librarian. I knew that there was not a single story for librarians. But what about those who don’t have a librarian in their lives, to provide that kind of contrast and context?

It is easy to get bogged down in the many, many, many different negative and stereotypical portrayals of librarians onscreen (and elsewhere). We librarians tend to get very defensive about the well-worn stereotypes and tropes. (The shushing librarian, the sexy librarian, the spinster librarian, etc.) Our defensiveness is borne of frustration — because, as Adichie says so eloquently, “the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.

I — like my fellow real-life librarians — am many things:  smart, naive, funny, serious, helpful, frustrated, bored, boring, fascinating, sarcastic, klutzy, graceful, inspiring, inspired, the list goes on. I am not just one thing: not as a woman, not as an American, and not as a librarian.

I want to see myself on that screen. I want to see my profession on that screen. I want to see the varied sides of librarians in reel life just as I witness in real life. So I continue to seek that. And I seek to share what I find with you all, to bring witness to the hundreds of examples of reel librarians that I see in films, from bit parts to protagonists. I do this to show that there is not just one story.

A Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto - Wordle.net

“A Librarian’s 2.0 Manifesto – Wordle.net” by Anna-Stina Takala is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Now, I am not equating the issues of reel librarians with huge, global issues of world hunger or racism. What I am doing is simply exploring a connection, that stereotypes and the “danger of a single story” echo throughout every part of our lives, small and large, professional and personal. Stories matter, and this site is an opportunity for me to share many stories.

And maybe, just maybe, by being more aware of the many different librarians you encounter onscreen, this might lead to an increased awareness (and curiosity?) of the many different librarians you might encounter in real life. Or perhaps seeing a friendly librarian onscreen might help you, or your children, feel more confident in going to your local public library. Or perhaps seeing an effective reference interview in a movie might lead you to seek out research help from a librarian at your local college the next time you have a research paper. I don’t know if any of these things happen, or will happen, or even if people are aware when or if they do happen. All I know is that the more stories we share, the more possibilities open up.

Adichie concludes her talk with a line inspired by Alice Walker:

That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story, about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.

And, of course, her concluding line reminded of Jorge Luis Borges — a librarian in real life! — whose line about libraries is often quoted:

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.

So here is to Paradise, and to librarians, onscreen and off.