I loved that my cheeky card catalog tee was featured in order to illustrate how librarians are “in on the joke” about our own stereotypes. And that’s what this Reel Librarians site is all about, too! 😉
It was also very sweet how many people shared the news about me being featured in The Guardian‘s photo essay, including family, friends, and even co-workers!
Never forget, then and now:
I received my complimentary copy of the book the same day that my library received their own copy of the book they ordered. And I still have the same library card catalog tee (and denim jacket) that I wore in the portrait that Cassidy took three years ago… and thus, an idea was born. A library colleague took photos of me in our library, with my current (shorter) hairstyle, with the book and my portrait. Fun!
And here I am shelving my library’s copy of the book on our bookshelves:
How do you classify librarians?
Here’s a closeup of the call number for the book: Z682 C37 2017
C 37, which denotes Cassidy, the author/creator — this is called a “Cutter number“
2017, which denotes the year of publication
And finally, one last funny thing that happened this past week. After a colleague shared the news on campus about me being featured in The Guardian and the This is What a Librarian Looks Like book, a fellow (non-librarian) instructor emailed me, wondering if the card catalog on the t-shirt was the Library of Congress or the Dewey Decimal system… and I loved that this instructor asked which which classification system the card catalog drawer was for! 😃
Here was my response:
Since the label reads “a-d” (i.e. letters), then it would most likely be the Library of Congress system, which combines letters and numbers together (with the letters coming first, organized by alphabetical order, and then by numbers. So A 100 would come before A 102, which would come before AF 100, and so on). Library of Congress includes both fiction and non-fiction, which is why it’s used for larger collections, like in college and university libraries.
The Dewey Decimal system is numbers only, 000’s through 900’s, and covers mostly non-fiction. That’s why most public libraries, which use the Dewey Decimal system, usually have separate classification systems for collections like fiction, usually alphabetized by authors’ last names, etc. So this card catalog drawer could also be for a special collection like fiction, representing authors’ last names, A-D.
It was super fun to geek out a bit — by request! — about library classification systems! 😃
Back to reel librarians next week… but I hope you enjoyed this additional sojourn into real librarians — and librarian style!
Have you read or gotten a copy of This is What a Librarian Looks Like? Please leave a comment and share.
Earlier this year, I watched the 2015 film The Age of Adaline, starring Blake Lively as the title character. I saved my analysis post of this film for the end of this month, as the film is set around the New Year holidays.
Here’s a trailer for the film:
The plot? Adaline, a young woman and a recent widow, gets into a car accident in the 1930s and stops aging as a result of the accident. After decades of living alone, she meets a man, Ellis (Michiel Huisman) who makes her question her life choices. Even though that plot has a bit of mumbo jumbo narration thrown in to try and explain the scientific reasoning behind Adaline’s agelessness, it’s played as a pretty straightforward romantic drama. Blake Lively definitely commits to the title role and brings a world-weariness to her portrayal of Adaline. However, the real stars that shine in the movie are Harrison Ford, who plays Ellis’s father, William, and Ellen Burstyn, who plays Adaline’s daughter, Flemming.
The director, Lee Toland Krieger, reveals on the bonus features how much thought he put into the look and feel of the film, focusing on different camera techniques to visually depict the different decades of the film and its flashbacks. The film is stunning to look at.
*SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD*
Just five minutes into the film, we get a sweeping view of Adaline as she walks up the steps of a library. The film is set in San Francisco, but these scenes were filmed at the Vancouver Art Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia.
As she walks into a light-filled room rimmed with bookcases and filing cabinets and card catalogs, we see a woman sitting at the desk by a computer (Cora, played by Indian-British actress Anjali Jay), and a man standing by the window (Kenneth, played by Japanese-Canadian actor Hiro Kanagawa). We also glimpse an older woman in the background by the bookshelves, but she doesn’t get a screen credit. Adaline’s co-workers are surprised to see her.
Kenneth: We thought you might not be coming in today, it being New Year’s Eve and all.
Adaline: It’s still a Wednesday. The fun doesn’t start till tonight anyway.
Kenneth: Well, are you up for a little excitement right now?
Adaline: Sure, what is it?
Kenneth: Your favorite. The news reel archives. It’s finally being digitized. We need a little help getting it ready to be shipped.
Adaline: I’d love to.
We then go into a scene in which Adaline sets up the film reel projector and settles in to watch news reel archives of San Francisco. This is a clever set-up for the narrator to take over and introduce her life while a montage of clips visually accompany the central plot phenomenon. As the narrator explains, at age 29 in 1937, Adaline gets into a car accident. As a result, her cells stop aging, leaving her perpetually 29 years old, even as her daughter and everyone else around her ages.
Although only a few minutes long, these scenes in the library archives are crucial to introducing the film and introducing us to the character (and motivations) of Adaline. Through her conversation with Kenneth, we learn that Adaline eschews socializing and is committed to her work, and that she loves working with archives. And then we find out why through the montage. We also see in the montage that Adaline studies up on her condition, taking a clerical job at a school of medicine. It’s a very clever and compact scene, one that includes an emphasis on archives and the value of researching and reading.
We also get introduced to the style of Adaline, who is in her prime — and dresses accordingly — through multiple decades. She has a classic style, which comes across as retro-inspired in the present day. She is a lady, and her clothing and hairstyles reflect that. I am definitely adding Adaline to my list of most stylish reel librarians!
Adaline then dresses up for a New Year’s Eve party, where she “meets cute” with Ellis in the hotel elevator, setting off the romance part of the film’s plot.
Ellis: I don’t want to come across like a know-it-all.
Adaline: Too bad, I adore know-it-alls.
Ellis is (understandably) smitten, but Adaline keeps an emotional distance, as she doesn’t want to get involved with anyone. She is also about to change identities yet again, something she does every decade to escape notice.
Unbeknownst to her, Ellis had already noticed Adaline before the party. Later, he describes how he first noticed her when she was reading a Braille book on the front steps of the library. For someone who’s trying to go unnoticed, she fails spectacularly!
A half-hour into the film, Ellis returns to the library to donate a lot of rare first editions. (It turns out he has made a lot of money in the tech industry and is now giving back and doing good works.) Just the way to capture a reel librarian’s heart!
Adaline’s co-worker, Cora, gets some lines to provide the backstory — plus reveals the name of where they work.
Cora: Major news. Mr. Jones is donating $50,000 worth of first edition classics to this library.
Adaline: What books? Do you know?
Cora: We’re going to find out very soon. Because his office called to say that he’ll be here to deliver them himself.
Cora [to Ellis]: On behalf of the San Francisco Heritage Society, I’d like to express our sincere gratitude for your most generous gift.
Note: I could not find record of a San Francisco Heritage Society (y’all knew I would look that up, right?). However, I suspect it’s standing in for the California Historical Society, which has headquarters in San Francisco. The California Historical Society does have its own library.
Ellis then proceeds with his real mission: to flirt with Adaline. Cue the obligatory library ladder scene!
Ellis: Hey, it’s me. The know-it-all. I got something for you, too. Some flowers. [Gives her a gift of first editions: Daisy Miller, Dandelion Wine, White Oleander.]
Adaline: Very clever. How did you know I work here?
Ellis: I just joined the board. I saw you coming out of our meeting.
Adaline: Oh. You could have mentioned that in the elevator.
Ellis: I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some donating.
Adaline: Great. I’ll be here.
Ellis: No way. I would like for you to accept the books on behalf of the library.
Ellis wants to take a photograph of Adaline accepting the books, but of course, she has her own reasons for not wanting to be photographed. She initially refuses, giving him a stern look, as seen in the screenshot below. (By the way, I love the composition of this shot! They all look like professionals, but Adaline stands out in green against the blacks and greys of her reel librarian co-workers.)
Then Ellis threatens to take away his donation.
Ellis: Suit yourself. If you won’t accept them, I won’t donate them.
Adaline: You wouldn’t do that.
Ellis: I will. I’ll even have a book burning. Okay, fine, fine. Here’s an alternative. Let me take you out tomorrow.
I know this is the central romance of the film, and this is supposed to be another “meet cute” scene, but I was incensed at this. A man “joking” about a book burning?! I was literally shouting at the screen, “NO!!!! That is NOT the man for you. Walk away!”
Ellis then attempts to make up for this later when he woos Adaline by complimenting the way she reads. He seems to appreciate Adaline’s intelligence and knowledge, even saying, “You can tell me anything you want, and I’ll believe it.”
His father, William, is not so easily convinced. Ellis wants Adaline to meet his parents, and we get a brief scene an hour into the film between William and his wife, Kathy. William questions any woman who’s beautiful who is “hiding out in a library,” and he suspects her of being a gold-digger.
William: So, what’s the story with this girl? She works there?
Kathy: I’ve told you everything Ellis told me.
William: A beautiful girl working in a public library.
Kathy: Maybe she likes books. And silence.
William: Or maybe she Googled him, and found out about his generous contribution and then worked her way in there so she could get her hooks into him.
But Adaline shows up William when they all play Trivial Pursuit. William has had a longtime winning streak — he’s a professor — but Adaline sweeps the game due to her lifetime of knowledge. It’s an enjoyable scene.
More romantic drama ensues, including a super-awkward love triangle, plus some more scientific mumbo jumbo thrown into the mix. I won’t reveal the ending of the film, but it’s pretty predictable. Enjoyably predictable, but predictable nonetheless.
So why is Adaline working in a library? As the New York Times review puts it, “By the time the present rolls around, Adaline has become an emotional shut-in.” The library — or at least the library at this particular historical society — is a quiet place, which suits her. There is no mention of qualifications or education for any of the four librarians pictured onscreen, but it’s obvious that Adaline has lots of personal experience with the older technology and artifacts.
We see Adaline do a variety of tasks in the library, including helping out with archives, running news reels on film projectors, stacking and shelving books, and filing cards. Her co-workers are seen working on computers. They must leave the older technology to Adaline! 😉
Adaline mentions several times about having to work for a living:
“I only get an hour” [for lunch]
“Some of us work for a living.”
However, we witness a flashback scene in which we learn that she has bought stock in Xerox. My thoughts are that she doesn’t actually need to work for a living; she simply prefers to do so in order to keep her mind alert, to utilize her knowledge and skills, and to indulge her nostalgia for the past. An historical library and museum are a good fit for those purposes.
Adaline’s co-workers serve the role of Information Providers, which is pretty straightforward. We don’t learn much about them as individuals, but I do enjoy the diversity of the reel librarians seen onscreen, representing different ages, genders, and ethnicities.
What purpose then does Adaline provide in this role as a reel librarian? I believe she serves the role of a Liberated Librarian:
Female Liberated Librarians tend to “discover” themselves with the help of a man or in the face of an adventure/disaster. (Check. Her life does change when she meet Ellis.)
The “liberations” can be positive or negative. (It’s positive in this film)
They are usually substantial roles with the librarian’s “liberation” often the film’s major plot. (Check and check. Adaline is the title character, and her “liberation” is both emotional and physical.)
Adaline is, indeed, “hiding out” in the library, trying to go unnoticed and to stay emotionally unattached. She is perfectly content in her life and at the library — but she is also content to leave that job and move on in order to preserve her privacy.
The Age of Adaline (2015) ends up in the Class II category, films in which the protagonist or other major characters are librarians, but the librarian’s occupation does not directly affect the plot.
The film’s conclusion, however, does not answer whether or not she will continue to work at the library. My guess — or rather, hope? — is that she will, but then, I’m also a romantic librarian at heart. ♥
And with that, 2016 comes to a close for Reel Librarians. I’ll be back next week — and next year! — with a wrap-up for 2016. Have a great New Year’s holiday!
The Age of Adaline. Dir. Lee Toland Krieger. Perf. Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn. Lionsgate, 2015.
Being typecast as a totally adorable reel librarian? There are worse things in life.
I have been wanting to see the Lifetime TV movie The Twelve Trees of Christmas since it came out in 2013, and right before we moved this summer, I was able to watch it on the Lifetime Movie Channel during their “Christmas in July” special marathon. I have been saving this post for Christmas to help celebrate the holidays. And to make it extra special, here are twelve lessons learned from The Twelve Trees of Christmas.
1. The Christmas part of the plot doesn’t really make sense
Here’s how the plot was described on the TV guide channel:
“A children’s librarian tries to save her beloved Manhattan library from being demolished to make way for a developer to build high-rise loft apartments. To generate media attention, she holds a Christmas tree decorating contest.”
The connection between Christmas and the library being demolished is pretty tenuous… it’s best not to pull on that thread too hard. That thread is made of spun sugar. And if you can’t guess the ending, then you don’t know your Lifetime TV movies. The Christmas tree angle shoe-horned into the plot does make, however, for some beautiful set decorations:
Also, the Christmas part of the movie plot might have been inspired by a real-life Toronto tradition!
When I was researching where this TV movie was filmed (this interview with co-star Mel B. reveals that the film was filmed during summertime in Hamilton, a city in southern Ontario, Canada), I also came across posts about a long-standing tradition in Toronto at the Gardiner Museum. Every year, the museum has a “12 Trees of Christmas” exhibition and theme.
2. The star is a veteran reel librarian
The TV movie stars Lindy Booth as main character and reel librarian Cheri Jameson, and if Booth looks familiar, it’s probably because she also plays a lead role in the The Librarians TV spin-off series. Being typecast as a totally adorable reel librarian? There are worse things in life. 😉
3. Lindy Booth is the most adorable reel librarian ever
This is fact, and here is the evidence of Lindy Booth’s adorable facial expressions:
Her character, Cheri, is also described at one point as “a little bit of a Pollyanna.”
4. Don’t watch this TV movie for tips on how to read a book for storytime
As the movie opens, children’s librarian Cheri is wandering through the library — convenient for us getting a good look at this beautiful old building the library is housed in — and walks up to join a volunteer who is reading a storybook to the children. Cheri finishes the rhymes from memory.
Pro tip: You don’t read a book like that at storytime hour. Instead, you hold it out to the side with one or two hands so the kids can see the illustrations as you read it aloud. It’s best to combine the aural and visual experience for the children at storytime. Alternatively, you can read the words off the page, and then show the illustrations to the children, but that takes longer.
5. Involve your community and library staff when promoting your library
Within the first five minutes, we get a closeup of an interoffice memorandum email sent from the library director/head librarian Bette Greven. This memo reveals the catalyst for the plot, about how the Shaughnessy Library’s lease will not be renewed, and the library building will be demolished to make way for a condominium building development. Robin Dunne plays Tony Shaughnessy, the grandson of the Shaughnessy Foundation president, and Casper Van Dien plays a cameo role as Charles Harris, the businessman who will be building the condominium. (Plus, Mel B. — yep, Scary Spice! — plays a supporting role as a diva designer.)
This is how Cheri reacts to the news:
Cheri also interacts with Mack, the library handyman, who already has a resume in his hand. He is already anticipating having to look for another job soon, as the library is shutting down with such short notice!
Cheri immediately goes out to talk with Bette, the head librarian, who is doing “desk duty.” This presents an interesting visual dynamic between the two, as the children’s librarian is standing, and the head librarian is sitting.
Cheri: Bette, what is going on?
Bette: I take it you read the memo.
Cheri: This building has been a library for half a century. The foundation can’t just suddenly shut it down.
Bette: They can and they will. Believe me, I’ve been burning up the phones for months trying to stop them.
Cheri: Wait. You’ve known about this for months?
Bette: Sit. I haven’t told any of the staff yet, because so far it’s only been rumors, and I didn’t want to upset people unnecessarily. This is a public library in a private building. The Shaughnessy Foundation gave the city a 50-year, $1-a-year lease, which expired last month. They’ve decided not to renew it but to instead redevelop this property as part of a new condominium and apartment complex.
This conversation reveals not only more details about the plot, it also reveals the important fact that the head librarian did NOT seek any additional help from her staff — or the community of users they serve! — for months leading up to this crisis. Not a smart move.
Cheri immediately has the idea of contacting the foundation president’s grandson, who happens to live in her building, and of course, she also comes up with the idea of the “12 Trees of Christmas” community contest and the “What the Shaughnessy Library Means to Me” theme. This is convenient to the Christmas holiday timing, but it also demonstrates that if the head librarian had involved her library staff and community sooner, then perhaps all of this could have been prevented!
At the announcement of the “12 Trees of Christmas” contest, Artie, a younger guy who’s a loyal patron of the library, asks about the rumor that they’re going to tear down the library. Bette confirms the rumors, and Cheri turns the announcement into an incentive to show the community how much this means. Artie, and others (including Tony, who loves competition!) immediately sign up to compete in the contest.
We’re hoping for a miracle. At least, if we go, we go in a blaze of glory.
6. Public libraries need to be funded by the public.
It’s vital for communities to fund and support their local libraries. This the main point of the movie’s plot, and a plot focusing on the proper funding of libraries is a rarity among reel librarian movies. (Also see the movie Miranda and the British Project: Library web series, and to a lesser extent, the plot of Party Girl.)
But there is a twist on this funding angle. It’s the issue of setting up a municipal service, such as a public library, in a building that is privately owned. As this funny list and review points out, the #1 lesson from this TV movie is that “Setting up a municipal service in a privately owned building will only lead to tears and a run on genuine Irish crystal.”
The second half of that initial conversation between Cheri and Bette provides more details on this central conflict.
Bette: I’ve been head librarian for 10 years. I’ve dealt with the city on hundreds of issues. I know how to get things done, but I need a few good cards to play, and we’ve got nothing. The thing is, they’ve got all the legal advantages on their side. The Shaughnessy Foundation is exercising a right that is very clearly theirs.
Cheri: We could do a fundraiser. The community would support us. People love this building. I grew up here. This building, it’s a landmark in the neighborhood.
Bette: It doesn’t matter. The foundation doesn’t need community approval. They can do whatever they want.
When Cherie then talks to Tony Shaughnessy, to try and convince him not to sell the building to a developer, he also points out this conflict of a public service in a private building:
Cheri: This neighborhood, it needs a library.
Tony: Sure. And that’s a matter for the city. The point is that libraries are a municipal matter.
On a personal note, I happen to agree with Tony here, at least with the general principle (if not his methods). Municipal services for the public good are a matter for the municipalities — or whichever region, like a county, that they are part of — and they need to fund public libraries accordingly. And members of those communities also need to vote to support stable funding for those public libraries! (This is also why so many public libraries put measures on the ballot to try and create library tax districts, in order to provide some kind of stable funding for public libraries. That way, they don’t have to depend so much on the election cycle whims of local politicians.) Libraries, unfortunately, are often among the first services cut in times of economic crisis, even though during those times, library resources and services become even more important to the general public.
7. Libraries and librarians impact people’s lives in many different ways
As Cheri states:
This is more than just a library. It’s a watering hole for the community. You know what happens in Africa when a watering hole dries up? Everything dies.
Throughout the film, scenes in the library are featured. And as a librarian, it is wonderful to see just how many different kinds of users this library serves, and in different ways.
As the children’s librarian, Cheri obviously highlights the services provided to children. And here’s how she drops the mic during a conversation with Tony:
When you see witness the joy on the children’s faces, and then crush all of their dreams when you announce your great plan to demolish their sanctuary of imagination, knowledge, and art. For a condo.
And this description, that the library is a “sanctuary of imagination, knowledge, and art” is evidenced in the movie. For example, we get to see users — and even library staff — of all ages doing research, or quiet study, in the library. The community members who signed up for a Christmas tree get busy researching books and information to support their different themes. Mack researches vintage recipes for his Christmas foods-themed tree. Deirdre and Artie team up to research technology for their technology-meets-art-in-the-library theme. Parents of a library-loving child team up to research children’s literature.
There are other scenes where people have space to work together on projects.
There are also spaces for different kinds of social group activities, from the children’s storytime hour to art class in the library.
Toward the beginning, a young girl gives Cheri, or “Miss Jameson,” a present. As she explains, “It’s kind of a Christmas and a thank you gift. I’m really happy you’re tutoring me.” This small, lovely scene reveals that the library and librarians also offer personal tutoring services.
Cheri also relates her own personal memories of the Shaughnessy Library, where her father wrote his doctoral thesis:
I grew up in that building… It was amazing… this magical land filled with everything in the whole world. It’s where I learned to love books. And reading. It’s the greatest gift my father gave me. And I think every child in this neighborhood should experience that feeling.
Later, Tony and Cheri get stuck in the elevator of their apartment building. Tony starts hyperventilating, and Cheri manages to helps calm him down with EMDR techniques.
Tony: Where’d you learn that? Wait, don’t tell me, the library.
Cheri: Not all of us can afford a world-class education.
This exchange highlights how library resources spread the importance of education and knowledge to community members who can’t afford tuition rates for higher education. It also supports how libraries and librarians serve as educational support.
8. Literacy is vital, and libraries are vital to promoting literacy
There’s also a really nice message in the film about literacy and community and the importance of libraries. Yes, we’re going into a very technological age where some people may argue we don’t need things like libraries and everyone is reading books on iPods. Still, at the end of the day, we do need to promote literacy and encourage reading with children. These places, like libraries in the community, really support that environment for kids. That’s a nice message.
This message — that there are different kinds of literacy, and that libraries are vital in promoting literacy — also gets voiced in a couple of conversations.
First, Tony and Cheri spar yet again:
Tony: Kids, they get everything online.
Cheri: Yes, but it’s not the same. You can read Dickens on an e-book. You get the words, but you’re missing the music.
Cheri then has a conversation with her boss Bette about what Tony said.
Bette: Yet he does have a point. E-books are taking over, and most kids these days haven’t even heard of an encyclopedia, much less opened one. And with Google, why should they?
Cheri: The internet can add to the mix, but you’re never going to be able to replace physical books. I mean, you need to be able to see and touch and hold and even smell a book to get the whole reading experience.
This kind of message, that it benefits us to be conversant in both internet literacy as well as traditional literacy, is also the ultimate message of a few other reel librarian movies, like the 1957 classic, Desk Set.
9. Librarians and library staff have different roles and tasks
This TV movie showcases a diversity of roles and type of work to be done in a public library. It’s not just checking out books and shelving books, y’all!
For example, Cheri interacts with Deirdre, a young woman who volunteers at the library, because as Deirdre states, “I’m new to the city, so volunteering at the library helped me make new friends.”
There are several nice scenes featuring Mack, the library handyman and custodian, who also reveals one of the best perks about working in a library. “I read whatever I get my hands on. It’s one of the perks of working here. I get to see all the new stuff as it comes out, and I grab it right away.”
Side note: TRUE STORY. This is one of the best perks!
Cheri and Bette also enjoy a warm and collegial relationship, like a mentoring relationship that is based on mutual respect. This is also visually reflected in a couple of scenes in which they sit across from each other, as equals, and each contributes something to the conversation.
Bette’s responsibilities as head librarian are clearly different from Cheri’s duties as the children’s librarian. As Bette states, “I’ve been head librarian for 10 years. I’ve dealt with the city on hundreds of issues. I know how to get things done.”
But Bette and Cheri both have “desk duty,” which means working at the reference desk in order to help answer questions from the public. It’s really nice to see onscreen a library director working with the public in this way!
10. Librarians need their own spaces, both at work and at home
Cheri’s work desk is the setting for multiple, albeit brief, scenes in this TV movie. It is indeed a rarity to see a reel librarian’s private work space! (See also Desk Set.) Cheri’s desk is very traditional, a long wooden table, and it’s always piled high with stacks of books and files.
We also get a couple of glimpses of Cheri’s apartment, another rarity on screen! (Once again, see Desk Set.) Cheri’s home decor is quite cozy and cheery — and filled with bookcases. 🙂
In the scene below, Tony comes over to help put together even more bookcases for Cheri!
11. Librarians can be stylish, and in different ways
Cheri has a consistent style throughout the TV movie, dressing in a retro-inspired way with cardigans or sweaters paired with flared dresses or skirts. Cheri is also not afraid of pairing together patterns and bright colors, which reflect her cheerful and energetic personality. She wears her hair down in loose curls, the better to show off the glorious red hue of her hair. She has a cute, classic look, one that feels appropriate for a children’s librarian.
Her boss, Bette, also has a signature style, but one that is more traditional and conservative. She wears her hair in a classic bob hairstyle, and she wears blazers in classic cuts and solid colors. Her jewel-toned blouses and jewelry hint at a bit of flair underneath. She is the head librarian, and she dresses like one.
We also get a peek at Cheri and Bette getting ready for the big Christmas tree finale and party. We even get to see Bette with her hair in rollers! Is this the first time we get to see a reel librarian getting her hair done onscreen? 😉
12. Library science is a real thing
In yet another (confrontational yet flirty) scene between Tony and Cheri, he asks why she wanted to become a librarian. She reveals she thought she was going to be a college professor, like her father.
Cherie: But once I got to college, I became this voracious reader. I spent all my spare time at the library out at the library and decided to major in library sciences.
Tony: Library sciences is not a real thing. You just made that up.
Cherie: Seriously. It’s a real thing.
Tony: You totally made that up. Wow. What did your dad say? Was he disappointed?
Cherie: He wasn’t. He was actually incredibly supportive… I got this summer job as a library intern, tutoring kids and working on this literacy program… [describes how this one kid read a book by himself for the first time.] I found my calling.
Another rarity — the discussion of library science and the education behind being a librarian! (Also see, you guessed it, Desk Set. And Party Girl also has a great scene in which librarians debate different kinds of library science graduate programs.)
Although Tony’s incredulity at “library sciences” being a “real thing” is sure to illicit side-eyed shade from real-life librarians, Cherie takes it in stride and instead turns the conversation into highlighting how significant and personal a decision it really is to become a librarian. Yes, unfortunately, we librarians are used to people not understanding library science — if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “Oh wow, librarians have master’s degrees?!” SIGH — but we also often describe librarianship as a calling. The movie absolutely got it right with that line, “I found my calling.” We are librarians because we are committed to our profession and the services and resources we provide. Ultimately, we are here to help the members of our communities.
The Twelve Trees of Christmas, although sugary sweet and fairly predictable, is ultimately quite significant in several ways when it comes to portraying reel librarians onscreen. Just like you can’t judge a book by its cover… I guess you can’t judge a Lifetime TV movie by its sugary coating. 😉
Happy holidays, y’all! And I’ll be back next week with a New Year’s Eve-themed reel librarian movie — stay tuned!
It is rare to get to see a reel librarian’s style evolve, which is only possible with a lead role for a reel librarian.
Last week, I highlighted stylish female reel librarians… this week I shine the spotlight on stylish male reel librarians! Note: I compiled this list in a totally unscientific way. I first jotted down a list of stylish reel librarians — from nothing more than my memory — and then narrowed the list down to 5 female and 5 male reel librarians.
Flynn Carsen in The Librarians:
All of the librarians in The Librarians spinoff TV series are stylish in their own ways, as seen in the screenshot directly below, but Flynn Carsen’s style has really come into its own. It is rare to get to see a reel librarian’s style evolve, which is only possible with a lead role for a reel librarian. It has been a pleasure to witness Flynn’s style evolution from oversized and ill-fitting trousers and unevenly buttoned shirts, as seen in 2004’s The Librarian: Quest for the Spear TV movie, to sharply tailored and layered in the spinoff TV series.
Vox in The Time Machine (2002):
Vox in the 2002 remake of The Time Machine is one of my favorite reel librarian characters. He is the heart and soul of that movie — and of knowledge itself — as well as the epitome of the Information Provider character type. His style is as timeless as he is.
Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV, 1996-2003):
Ah, Giles the school librarian at Sunnydale High, as played by British actor Anthony Head. A TV librarian who has reached iconic status — and I would venture to say, that status has been aided by his classic wardrobe. His wardrobe (and manner) of an English gentleman serve up a perfect contrast to modern California culture. That means lots of tweed, ties, striped button-downs, waistcoats, and three-piece suits. Well suited, indeed, Giles.
In Miranda, John Simm plays Frank, a reel librarian in charge of a library scheduled for demolition. His opening narration also reveals his retro-inspired style choices:
Frank. Barracloff. Rock star. Astronaut. Secret agent. Sex god. That was me, wishing my life away, listening to Elvis, munching on nuts.
His suits and wide-lapel shirts are a specific style — one not suitable for everyone — but I have to admire the way his character commits to that look!
Edgar Marsh in The Tell-Tale Heart (1960):
This final choice might prove a controversial or unusual choice, but stick with me. In this 1960 adaptation of the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story, The Tell-Tale Heart, Laurence Payne plays Edgar Marsh, described on the back of the DVD case as “a mentally unstable librarian.” Payne commits 110% to this film, going over-the-top in his acting and facial expressions (which you can see more of in my post about the film). To counter this, Edgar dresses quite conservatively and formally, all buttoned up in jackets, silk vests, ties, and top hats to reflect the 19th-century time period.
For me, though, it’s all about the poet shirt — white and billowing and ruffled and pleated. 😉 I like to think that particular sartorial choice reflects Edgar’s inner turmoil and frustrated heart beating and yearning to break free underneath all those layers of jackets and vests and ties. And when it does break free…. watch out! I love when costume choices add an extra layer to character development.
A closer look at reel librarians reveals a wide range of stylish choices captured on cinema, as well, for both male and female reel librarian characters.
Librarians, in reel or real life, have not historically been lauded for their style; or, rather, so-called “librarian style” has entered the realm of stereotype. This is mostly due, I would argue, to the prevailing “Spinster Librarian” character type, wrapped up in frumpy, ill-fitting, and buttoned-up cardigans, midi skirts, sensible shoes, and glasses on a chain. This kind of stereotypical clothing, which could even be seen as a kind of uniform, serves a purpose for the “Spinster Librarian” character type, visually demonstrating the conservative and rule-abiding nature of that role.
But we are more stylish than people might think — in real and reel life!
Real librarians’ personal style is as diverse as the field of librarianship, as evidenced in websites like Librarian Wardrobe, whose tagline is “Not always buns and sensible shoes, librarians at various types of libraries have different styles (and dress codes).” A closer look at reel librarians reveals a wide range of stylish choices captured on cinema, as well, for both male and female reel librarian characters. Let’s take a closer look at stylish reel librarians, shall we?
A quick note: Compiling this initial list was quite unscientific. I first jotted down a list of stylish reel librarians — from nothing more than my memory — and found the list to be quite extensive! I then narrowed the list down to 5 female and 5 male reel librarians to highlight on the blog.
This week, I’ll focus on stylish female reel librarians; next week is for the boys!
All the librarians in Desk Set (1957):
The reel librarian style in the classic comedy Desk Set deserves another mention — and a spot on this list! Here’s what I’ve written previously about the stylish ladies of Desk Set:
They are smart, sassy, and feminine, which their wardrobes reflect. Favoring timeless ’50s silhouettes of full skirts and cinched waistlines, they wear dresses as well as separates (cardigans, twinsets, sweaters). Although their clothing is quite simplistic in shape, the color choices are quite bold and striking. Bottom line, their collective style is both classic and comfortable. Perfect for the modern librarian!
Mary in Party Girl (1995):
Parker Posey as the title character in the 1995 independent film Party Girl is a reel librarian revelation, complete with striped tights and thick-soled ankle boots. As Mary, she starts out as an irresponsible, irreverent party girl clad in vintage threads and club gear. She has to sell most of her vintage clothing and starts working at a local public library to pay off the money her godmother paid to get her out of jail, eventually (spoiler alert!) realizing she is meant to be a librarian. (The signs were already there. After all, she did organize her friend’s jeans — and another friend’s record collection!)
The film serves almost as a backdrop for Mary’s glorious wardrobe and style choices, full of thrifted and vintage combinations. Mary is definitely not afraid of color or pattern-mixing! A thoroughly modern and fun-loving reel librarian with a wardrobe to match.
Her memorable outfits are also showcased on the film’s posters and DVD covers!
Susan Harper in Twisted Nerve (1968):
In the 1968 thriller Twisted Nerve, Hayley Mills plays Susan Harper, a lovely young librarian studying for a teaching degree. As I said in my analysis post about the film:
Susan is a classic Spirited Young Girl character type: a young, physically attractive, intelligent, and modern girl who is working temporarily at the library. […] And along with Ali McGraw in Love Story (1970), she’s one of the best-dressed reel librarians ever! Behold the blonde-haired cuteness:
Jenny in Love Story (1970):
In the classic weepy Love Story, Ali MacGraw stars as Jenny Cavalleri, who is working as a library assistant at Radcliffe when she meets Harvard law student and jock Oliver (Ryan O’Neal). She is a music major — fulfilling the Spirited Young Girl character type in this film — and her style is a mixture of classic and bohemian. We get to see a range of outfits and style choices, from casual tees to winter layers to her wedding dress!
Roe in the Aurora Teagarden Mystery Movies (TV, 2015- ):
In this series of mystery TV movies, Candace Cameron Bure plays Aurora ‘Roe’ Teagarden, a young librarian with a skill for sleuthing. Roe’s fashion sense is subjected to many negative comments throughout the TV film, but I didn’t agree with this style criticism, as I also stated in my review post of the series premiere. Roe’s style of cardigans, coats, and layers looks cute, relatable, and modern to me.
These are not exhaustive lists, and my opinions expressed here on the stylishness of the librarians are based on personal and biased opinions.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you have more stylish reel librarians to add to the list? Please share and leave a comment!
Next week, check back for stylish male reel librarians!