Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Hollywood Librarian – DVD review

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The Hollywood Librarian, directed by Ann Seidl

95 minutes

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. 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.

The Library Card – Review

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The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli

Age: 10-13

Four kids, with difference backgrounds, families and lives, come into contact with a simple blue library card that soon changes their lives and helps shape their most important decisions.

The book is broken into four section, each section devoted to one of the 4 kids. The first section is about Mongoose and Weasel. Both are slackers in school and dream of dropping out and running away. Although once Mongoose finds  a library card amongst a stash of candy loot that he lifted from the grocery store, their plan to drop out and run away is no longer all that simple.

Brenda is a TV addict who has to turn off the TV for one entire week for the Great TV Turn-Off and turns to the library for comfort.

Sonseray is a troubled child who lost his mother to a drug overdose. He and his uncle are constantly moving from place to place because of Sonseray’s antics until he one days steps through the library doors.

Finally, April takes a trip on a bookmobile in a new town that soon changes her perspective on life and the people in it.

I really liked this book and I think it sends a good message to kids. I’m not just saying that because I’m a librarian. Each child faces a slew of difficulties, from peer pressure to feelings of abandonment. The stories are funny, tragic and hopeful. Lives can change when someone is presented with a different set of options.  For these kids, it was a change of routine and a friendly face in an air conditioned building.

I would say this book is a good read for both boys and girls because of the three male characters in two of the sections. I think the boys will enjoy the girl chapters too, because of the content (what kid can’t relate to the torture of no TV for a week?) The themes of friendship, identity and creativity are good for the pre-teens who are just starting to discover things about themselves and are looking for a direction for development.

The Library Card
Jerry Spinelli
Scholastic Books, 1997
ISBN 0590386336
148 pages


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Dream Life – Review

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Dream Life by Lauren Mechling

Age Group: Teens


Dream Life is the sequel to Lauren Mechling’s cute teenage supernatural mystery saga of Claire Voyante. After having saved the lives of her newest best friend and family, Claire and Becca formed a very strong bond. After a summer apart, Claire is a little bummed when Becca rekindles friendships with girls from her former school. To makes things worse, Claire sort-of boyfriend, Andy, breaks up with her early in the book, blaming school and distractions as the main reason. Although disappointed, Claire soon finds out the truth behind Becca’s trysts with her friends from her former high school and is soon sucked into a world of secret societies and conspiracies added onto the daily dose of normal high school drama. I didn’t fall in love with the first title, I really enjoyed this sequel to Dream Girl. I thought it had a lot of good messages and themes of honesty, and friendship. Claire did rely on her charmed necklace to help her solve most f the novel’s mysteries, as she did in the first book, but she did use more of her own instincts and abilities in place of the necklace. It showed how much she changed and matured from the first book. One thing I hate about series is that the characters never develop or grow as the series progress (ie…Gossip Girl).  I particularly liked Claire’s decision at the end of the book in regards to the secret society. I thought it was a very mature and well thought out decision. Claire makes a great role model for teenage girls. She’s a good mix of clever, funny and normal without seeming cliche or over the top.  I think a lot of girls reading this series will connect with her over any of the other characters.

Dream Life
Lauren Mechling
Delacorte Press, 2010
ISBN 978-0-385-735230
325 pages
Review copy


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