Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Books and Librarians Onscreen

I was thrilled to see Kate Winslet accept the award for best actress in “The Reader”, a film adapted from the book of the same name by Bernard Schlink. It was written in 1995 (translated into English in 1997) and has been widely read around the world in the past decade. The story is fiction and is not just a Holocaust story. One of the prevailing themes is illiteracy, of course a topic near and dear to a librarian’s heart. A favorite and touching scene for me was when Kate Winslet’s mid-life adult character enters the library and checks out her very first library book. The shame of both illiteracy and of a generation too-far removed from the atrocities of the Holocaust are woven throughout the story of both the movie and the book.
There are several databases (on library websites) from which you can search the literary beginnings of the majority of movies. “Based on the Book”, a website compilation by Mid-Continent Public Library system in Missouri, is one of them and it is searchable in four ways: by the movie title, the film release date, the book title and the book author. Are you curious about which of Charles Dickens’, John Grisham’s or Philip Roth’s books have become movies? Did you know there were more than eighteen that hit the theaters in 2008, among them “Horton Hears a Who” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”? The latter was based upon a short story of the same name by F. Scott Fitzgerald. You might be very surprised how many movies had their beginnings in literature. One surprise book-to-movie connection is “Slumdog Millionaire” based on the 2005 book, Q &A, written by Vikas Swarup. Another 2008 award nominee was “Revolutionary Road” based on the book written by Massachusetts writer Richard Yates in the 1960’s. Even “Hellboy” and “The Watchman began as books” – graphic novels. The hit movies “Coraline” and “Twilight” began as books for young adults. Other websites list the movies that will come out in 2009, including My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Piccoult and Angels and Demons by Dan Brown.
Now getting back to Kate Winslet and her library book, I must tell you that cringed when I witnessed her circling words with pencil … in her library book. Perhaps her librarian forgave her – the audience did I’m sure but I hid my gasp in my fist in the theater. Librarians are portrayed very interestingly on film and run the gamut of stereotypes. From Parker Posey’s nonsensical “Party Girl” to Marian in “The Music Man”, librarians are portrayed as sweet as River City Pie to maniacal shrews. Yet who can forget James Whitmore’s portrayal as a bright and caring librarian, albeit a prisoner himself, in “Shawshank Redemption.” Of the devoted Donna Reed in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” There are several websites devoted to librarians on film – The Film Librarian, Librarians in the Movies and Movie Librarians. There is even a movie devoted to our brand – Hollywood Librarian, a full-length documentary including many, many film clips and published in 2007. It was presented in special screenings in … libraries. Seemingly, only librarians themselves are interested in this type of study as we try to figure out just why the public bestows us with their knowing smiles … or extends their shaky hands.
Perhaps the some of the best quotes we can find about libraries and librarians as portrayed in film are from “IQ” (1994):
“I always imagined heaven to be one enormous library, only you can't take out the books”. Or from “Doctor Who” (2005):
"You want weapons? We're in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world! This room's the greatest arsenal we could have - arm yourselves!”
From the Daily News Transcript, From the Library, Charlotte Canelli, columnist

Please call the library (781-769-0200) or visit our website ( to see if we have your favorite book or movie.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weird Massachusetts

When Jeff Belanger was in his late twenties, he did what many of us might dream of doing; he relinquished his paid employment and pursued his love – writing. Not quite a decade later, Jeff has nine books for sale on

Jeff began writing when he was very young, was published while a teenager and became well known in the “ghostly” community after founding his own Web site, Jeff has become so well known among the circles exploring “the unexplained” that October of every year has become a month of non-stop radio interviews and public speaking. He has appeared on over 100 radio and television programs including NPR and the History Channel. Luckily this kind of schedule leaves many other months to pursue his love of writing
Read the entire From the Library column in the Daily News Transcript.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Love Was In the Air

As a library director, two words I can’t hear enough are “thank” and “you,” and in that exact order. It’s not necessarily because I am looking for thanks or compliments. No, it is rather that, as a librarian, I am hoping to find exactly what you’d like to read, view or listen to. This past Sunday there was plenty of thanks to go around and I couldn’t have been happier.
Read the entire From the Library column here in the Daily News Transcript.