The Hollywood Librarian, directed by Ann Seidl
I checked this DVD out from my local library mostly because of the title. The subcaption for the DVD is “A Look at Librarians Through Film.” That being said, the title is misleading when it comes down to the actual content of the documentary. Very small portions of it are dedicated to librarians in film, and those snippets are only used to supplement the rest of the content.
This is basically a documentary on the value and relevance of the written word, of libraries and librarians as the guardians of freedom, as creators of civilization and as a friendly and welcoming face in any given community. The content is jumpy and isn’t focused on any central theme.
Ann interviews librarians from various cities across the US on topics ranging from literacy, to the Patriot Act. There is a good portion of the documentary devoted to the closing of the 3 libraries in Salinas, CA (the birthplace and muse for John Steinbeck).
Had the focus been narrowed to any one of the topics in this documentary, it would have been a fantastic film. Each topic (the history of libraries, the Salinas libraries, Carnegie, Patriot Act, etc) would have made for great single subject documentaries because of the breadth of information for each topic.
One major annoyance I had with this DVD, and maybe it was just my disc, was that it could only be viewed in full screen mode. Anything that was written on the screen was cut off so it was unreadable for the most part, which was a shame, because there were some really thoughtful quotes and facts printed on the screen.
I do appreciate the sentiment of the film towards librarians, and this is one of the only documentaries on libraries and librarians. It is valuable towards differentiating the role of librarian in today’s world with that of the film stereotypes. With the frequency of statements like “libraries won’t be around in 10 years” that I hear from people whenever I mention that I am a librarian, this DVD was a refreshing reminder that my job has relevance and sustainability. No, I do not feel like my job is threatened by the Internet. The role of the library is to evolve with society and meet their needs and provide a service that goes beyond just helping them find information.
If you are looking for a DVD on librarians in Hollywood movies, this isn’t for you. If you are looking for a general documentary on libraries and librarians, then this might be a good starting off point before jumping into a more specific subtopic.