‘Reel Librarians’ gets cited!

And I mean “cited” in a good way!:)

My “Hall of Shame” page has been cited on the Matthew Wilson: Big Screen Project website. The site outlines a film project for Quiet Please, described as “a short mockumentary … following the life of a librarian who aspires to become a serial killer.” As you do.😉

Screenshot of citation

I am included on the site’s Research Dossier, as well as in the research presentation’s bibliography, which is linked off the dossier page. I have watched the 11-minute short film, which is available to watch here in this post. I’m honestly not sure how my “Hall of Shame” page helped the production, but it’s exciting to be cited!

And if you can’t get enough of reel librarian serial killers, then check out my post about “Killer librarians” as well as my “Little miss serial killer librarian” post.

I will be back next time with a new reader poll, so please check back next week to cast your vote for what film I should watch next!

‘Ssshhh gets real’ on Project : Library web series

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had presented a conference program on reel librarians — and one of the best things about the program were the titles and suggestions audience members have sent my way since. One suggestion — and one new to me! — I recently watched was a 2013 British web series called “Project : Library,” a four-part action/comedy web series.

The plot is pretty simple:  Battersham Library is set to close in 3 weeks and is in serious need of funds. During inventory, two library workers realize there’s a book that’s been checked out since 1989, and the boy who checked it out, Michael Foster, is now 25… and owes the library 1 million pounds!

As the web series tagline says:  “Ssshhh get real” — and FAST.

The manager of Battersham Library, Troy Bennet, is a blowhard who throws his own grandson out of the library and cares more about money than about books. And in a cast of Brits, he stands out by having an American accent. (OF COURSE.) This character, hilariously described to me as an “evil librarian mafioso,” chomps every bit of scenery he can while spouting lines like “I’m gonna send the boys ’round.”

There are 4 episodes total, with each episode running 10-20 minutes apiece. As shown in the trailer, the series does get progressively and over-the-top violent, featuring bullets and blood. Also, more than one book sacrificed itself to the making of this web series. (R.I.P. books, R.I.P.)

But above all, this series is HILARIOUS, and I highly recommend taking an hour out of your day to watch through the episodes. It is very well directed and acted, with high production values. The series was co-created by TimH and Mike Cannon, and TimH is also credited as one of the writers, directors, and stars of the series.

Morals of the story?

  • Properly fund your libraries.
  • Return your books on time.
  • And get some wi-fi in your libraries.

Below are the “Project : Library” episodes, as well as my favorite quotes from each episode. Enjoy!


Episode 1: OVERDUE

Favorite quote:

If this library closes, then that’s my sex life out the window.


Episode 2: DINOSAUR

Favorite quote:

I’m not a cop. I’m a librarian.


Episode 3: COLLATERAL

Favorite quotes:

Michael’s friend Jason:  You don’t know who’s working for the library. It could be anyone!
Michael:  You saying ANYONE could be a librarian?
Jason:  Maybe. For all you know, I could be a librarian.


Episode 4: THE FINAL CHAPTER

Favorite quotes:

Jason:  Sticks and stones may break my bones…
Michael:  …but words will never hurt me.
Jason:  [using a thick dictionary to knock a guy out] Bull. Shit.

Welcome to MY library. Your visit here is OVERDUE.

Nobody does romance like librarians. I’m serious. We’re famous for it. Librarians are S-E-X-Y. Don’t laugh. We’ve written the book about it. Well, at least date-stamped it.


Can’t get enough of “Project : Library”? Then check out the Tumblr site for the project, http://projectlibrary.tumblr.com/, which includes behind-the-scenes info about the series and archives of posts and photos. And last but not least, an outtakes video!

‘Spotlight’-ing a news library

Spotlight (2015), the Best Picture winner from this year’s Academy Awards, focuses on the Spotlight team of reporters who, in 2002, published a series of stories about Catholic priests who, for decades, had been sexually abusing children in their parishes. Spotlight also won the Academy Award for Best Writing, Original Screenplay and was nominated for four other Oscars.

The film’s spotlight (har har) is on the months of investigative reporting that led to the publication of the initial story in January 2002, as the reporters went from investigating one priest, John J. Geoghan, to uncovering a decades-long cover-up from the Catholic Church. That first story, which you can read here, led to hundreds more stories, across the United States and around the world, as the film’s closing cards reveal. It also led to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2003 for the Boston Globe‘s Spotlight team, “for its courageous, comprehensive coverage of sexual abuse by priests, an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church.”

The Spotlight team was Mike Rezendes (played by Mark Ruffalo, in an Oscar-nominated performance), Walter ‘Robby’ Robinson (played by Michael Keaton), Sacha Pfeiffer (played by Rachel McAdams, also an Oscar-nominated performance), and Matt Carroll (played by Brian d’Arcy James).

Fifteen minutes into the film, we get our first glimpse into the newspaper archives and library research team.

Reel Librarians | News librarian in 'Spotlight' (2015)

News librarian in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

Spotlight news reporter Matt drops off an info request to Lisa Tuite, the head of the news library. Lisa (played by Michele Proude) is sitting behind a desk and typing on a computer, and you can see shelves and shelves of files and boxes in the background.

Matt:  Hey Lisa. Could you pull all the relevant clips on that for me?

Lisa:  Yeah. [looks at paper] Is this for Spotlight?

Matt:  Just drop them off when they’re ready? Thanks.

A few minutes later, at 22 minutes into the film, there is a series of quick cuts and closeups of a variety of research methods and materials, including microfilm, photographs, clipping files, and keyword searching in an online database.

Reel Librarians | Variety of news research materials and methods in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Variety of news research materials and methods in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

It’s clear that the news researchers are all women, and we see closeups of the hands and backs of the researchers, almost no faces. The focus, therefore, is not on the librarians and researchers — the focus is on the research itself.

Also, news flash:  Not all information is available on the internet! There’s still value in research the “old-fashioned” way.

We then see the initial results of all that research rolled, literally, into the Spotlight offices.

Reel Librarians | News research files in 'Spotlight' (2015)

News research files in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

The research librarians are curious about the story, too, but the reporters have been directed to be “more discreet than usual” on this story. After more folders get dropped off, the Spotlight team discuss some of the possible leads.

Robby:  How much longer you need to get through the clips?

Sacha:  I mean, a few days. There’s a lot. Lisa’s still sending up more.

There are folders and folders of clippings and articles stacked up on the reporters’ desks. The research library team is definitely delivering on their end, and it is clear that their research is vital in helping the reporters pinpoint names of both priests and victims, as well as follow up on a victims’ organization and support group.

It’s also clear that Lisa, as head of the library, is well-known and on a first-name basis with the entire Globe staff. At 49 mins into the film, Matt asks advice from Eileen MacNamara, the columnist who had initially written about the priest Geoghan.

Matt:  Hey Mac, if I wanted historical data on a priest and parishes he’d been assigned to, where would I find that?

Eileen: The Geoghan case? It’s all in the clips. Lisa has the source material.

In the very next scene, we see Lisa again, this time in what must be the print collection of the newspaper library and archives. We get a closeup of the multi-volume Catholic Encyclopedia and paperback copies of the Massachusetts Catholic Directory, all with spine labels of what looks to be Dewey Decimal call numbers in the 200’s. [And that is correct, Class 200 in the Dewey Decimal classification system is about religion. Y’all knew I would doublecheck that, right?!]

Reel Librarians | Print directories in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Print directories in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

Lisa:  The Archdiocese puts out an annual directory. Every priest and parish.

Matt:  Oh, that’s great. Do these go back any further than ’98?

Lisa:  Oh yeah, going back to the ’80s in the mez. Beyond that, you gotta go to the BPL. [Boston Public Library]

Matt:  The mez, huh? Thanks, Lisa.

Lisa:  You bet.

Reel Librarians | Print collection of news library in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Print collection of news library in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

There are rows of shelves in the news library, and there looks to comfy seating in the back with a padded chair.

We next see Mike and Walter join Matt in the aforementioned “mez” (short for “mezzanine”), looking through the old church directories. The “mez” is decidedly less comfortable than the news library, with metal shelving, stacked-up boxes, no light (no one can find the light switch), and a suspicious smell.

Mike:  What the hell is that smell?

Matt:  There’s a dead rat in the corner.

Reel Librarians | Mezzanine library archives in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Mezzanine library archives in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

Reel Librarians | Church directory archives in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Church directory archives in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

These old church directories provide a series of vital clues that propel the rest of the investigation — and therefore, the rest of the film. The reporters realize that through these directories, they can track down priests who were reassigned by the church in order to obscure their crimes. With the 13 names of priests they currently have, Matt figures out that guilty priests were designated in the directories with a variety of related keywords, like “sick leave,” “absent on leave,” “unassigned,” “emergency response” and “treatment center.”

Reel Librarians | Sick leave designation in church directories

Sick leave designation in church directories

At 1 hour into the film, almost at the halfway mark of the 128-minute running time, the reporters realize there is an even bigger scope to the investigation. They could be looking at 90 or more priests, and they need a way to quickly identify them. They had been using the directories to track down and confirm priests revealed through interviewing victims — but what about using the directories the other way around? Therefore, the reporters use the directories — with the keywords they had already identified! — to track down more potentially guilty priests.

There is a resulting montage of this methodical research, all featuring the four reporters going through the directories, line by line, in different locations — at their desks, in the news library, even in public places like a bar.

We even get a quick clip of Sacha in what must be the Boston Public Library (Lisa had mentioned in an earlier scene that the BPL had even older copies of the church directories), at a library table and surrounded by the iconic green lamps you find in classical libraries. A security guard announces “Library closing,” and Sacha checks her watch.

Reel Librarians | Boston Public Library library scene in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Boston Public Library library scene in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

Matt (who was described by the Globe as “the database reporting specialist for the Spotlight Team”) then begins building a database of names. This research method results in a database file of 87 names.

Reel Librarians | Cross-checking names in 'Spotlight' (2015)

Cross-checking names in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

I have to admit, I clapped my hands at this montage and shouted out, “Keywords! It’s all about keywords!” My husband thought my outburst hilarious, but I was seriously pleased at the inclusion of this kind of old-school, thorough method of research — and critical thinking. It made my librarian heart smile and burst with pride!😀

By the way, this 2016 interview with the real-life Lisa Tuite reveals that it was also the news librarians — not just the reporters — who “manually cross-referenced the directories to follow priests from parish to parish. As names of the priests involved in the scandal came to light, Tuite and her team researched the priests’ backgrounds. Tuite’s “research forensics” revealed the story.” (By the way, Lisa Tuite is also personally thanked in the film’s acknowledgements.)

In a Boston Globe article from Oct. 28, 2015, Lisa is included in “The real people behind the ‘Spotlight’ characters,” about actors and the real people they are portraying.

Boston Globe article screenshot

I also looked up Lisa’s current staff profile page on the Boston Globe website:

“Tuite directs a staff of researchers who provide background and fact-checking to reporters and editors. The library manages the Globe text and photo archive as well. She joined the Globe in the library in 1979.”

Librarian staff profile page on Boston Globe site

Librarian staff profile page on Boston Globe site

In her scenes, Lisa is dressed in comfortable, professional clothing (cardigan and shirtdress in one scene and a button-down and black trousers in another), wears glasses and subtle jewelry (small hoop earrings and a thin gold watch), and has long brown hair with the front half pulled back. The film’s credits also list Zarrin Darnell-Martin as Intern Wanda (she’s the one who delivers the files to the reporters), and the IMDb.com cast lists includes Colleen Kelly as a Librarian, uncredited. There are at least two other library researchers uncredited, women you can see in the background of the library and archives research scenes. All fulfill the Information Provider role in this Class III film.

You can see Michele Proude’s clips in the film via Vimeo, here at https://vimeo.com/159127965.

Spotlight librarian video

Click on screenshot to play video of librarian scenes in ‘Spotlight’ (2015)

I really enjoyed watching Spotlight, a film that is smart and mature — it goes deeper than the surface of the sensational stories they uncover and write about. And it doesn’t do that with flashy performances or “gotcha” moments. It builds slowly, methodically, until the evidence they uncover cannot be denied:  not by the reporters themselves, not by the church lawyers, not by the public, not by the audience watching the film. And as a librarian, I gotta love a film that treats research — “Get those directories upstairs!” — as pivotal and key scenes.

To sum up, I have to highlight a contribution to the “Auto-Cat” listserv (a listserv for automation & cataloging librarians) from Michael Klossner, who highlighted the library scenes in Spotlight. I can’t sum it up any better than he does:

The film is being described as a valentine to an old institution which is often considered out-of-date in the wired world, the newspaper. It is also a tribute to another old-school  institution, the library — in spite of the rat in the corner.

I highly recommend Spotlight not only as an excellent film, but also as a film that highlights excellent research. And kudos to Lisa Tuite and her staff of librarians and researchers at the Boston Globe news library!

OLA Conference program wrap-up

As I promised in last week’s post, I have some pics and info from the reel librarians program I presented at the 2016 Oregon Library Association Annual Conference. I had so much fun during my program — there was so much energy from the audience!😀

The conference theme for this year was “Tell Your Story,” and my presentation was titled “When Others Tell Our Story: Librarian Portrayals in Film.” I have a copy of my conference materials online here at the Northwest Central website, in case you’d like to take a look. (Note: My slides look plain in on the online version, since I had to take out the embedded videos due to copyright protection; I substituted film titles in place of the videos.)

Reel Librarians | Intro slide from my reel librarians program at the OLA Conference 2016

There was a full house at the program — and then some, with people sitting on the floor in the back! I counted 75-80 attendees (some had to leave early and/or arrived later), and I was over the moon that there was so many people interested in the program! Everyone seemed super engaged and asking questions and leaning in and laughing in all the places I hoped they would!😀

I started the program with a quick think-pair-share activity for the audience to visualize the first movie with a reel librarian they could think of, then share with a partner. Did they think of the same movie or librarian character? Did they think of different movies? I then invited a few audience members to share with everyone, and these are the resulting film titles that first came to mind:

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • The Music Man
  • Party Girl
  • Desk Set
  • The Handmaid’s Tale
  • Foul Play

A comment I heard more than once afterward was that attendees were thankful for a fun program and needed the opportunity to laugh — and that they wanted more fun programs at the conference in general. A friend also shared that she thought the scheduling of my program, set for right after lunch, was really good timing, as it helped energize the audience — helping prevent the “food coma” phenomenon!

And thanks to my friend Stephanie for taking pics during my program!

I only had an hour, so I had to really condense the info and film clips to include in the program. I included screenshots and clips from the following 25 films:

I enjoyed quite a few follow-up conversations with attendees, and have already received a few follow-up emails, as well — and a few more suggestions to add to my list! I was also super pleased at one woman’s comment that she felt the program had a good balance of fun and substance — awesome feedback! Others admitted to me that, at first, they couldn’t really think of any films with librarians in them but then were surprised at how many there actually are (I have almost 1,000 titles on my Master List!) and the variety that I showed through film clips. I also cracked up at the suggestion that I should develop a stand-up routine about reel librarians and take the show on the road! Hah!😀

I also had a handout takeaway for the attendees who came to the program, available to view here. I brought 50 copies, so I totally ran out of handouts! The handout included my Reel Librarians link and email address, in case anyone comes across a film title to add to my Master List, and a copy of the trivia challenge questions, which were previously posted here on this site.

It was a super fun experience to put together and present the program! Thanks to everyone who attended the program, and for all the readers of this website and blog!

Next week, I’ll be back with another film analysis post.

Presenting a reel librarian program @ OLA Conference 2016

Exciting news! Tomorrow, I will be presenting a program about reel librarians at the 2016 Oregon Library Association Annual Conference, taking place in beautiful Bend, Oregon, April 20-22, 2016. This year’s conference theme is “Tell Your Story,” and my presentation is titled “When Others Tell Our Story: Librarian Portrayals in Film.”

Reel Librarians | Screenshot from OLA program schedule

Here’s my program write-up on the online conference schedule:

This program will highlight how librarians are portrayed in film. What can we learn about our own profession by the way others tell our story on the big screen? Culled from years of film analysis and research, as showcased on the presenter’s site Reel Librarians (http://reel-librarians.com), this program will feature both female and male “reel” librarian portrayals, illustrated with cinematic examples. How might these portrayals help (or inhibit) connections between librarians and our communities? Let’s all come together to identify and laugh – or groan! – at how we are portrayed in the “reel” world.

So tomorrow, Thursday, April 21, from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m., that’s where I’ll be. Hopefully, I’ll see y’all there — if not in person, then definitely in spirit.😀

Next week, I hope to have some pics to share from the program and conference.