The Search For The Classics
Over the past couple of years I’ve become a little tired of new movies. Every time I get excited about a movie, I go to the theatre and end up being disappointed. I find that I’m underwhelmed by too many explosions, car chases, or gun fights with no plot to back them up.
I recently lamented about this problem to my father, and announced that I wanted to explore old movies. My father was all too eager for this idea, and gave me a list of 54 movies to “get me started.”
I really wanted to get a physical copy of each of these films because I’m a big fan of special features, especially the director’s commentary. Thus, I went to the library’s website and searched for each of the films. I found an astounding 52 of the 54 movies available in the library system.
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that fact: 52 out of 54 movies were available to me free of charge.
What was interesting about this experience was that I was surprised that so many movies were available to me, and I am trying to figure out why.
I’ve often heard the statement that a library is “nothing better than a warehouse of books,” sitting full of dusty old tomes that are never used. I understand why people might say this: just saying the word “library” brings to mind images of rooms filled with books.
Yet it’s fairly often that when I search for an item in the catalogue, I’m surprised to find it available. And when I’m asked by friends or family where I got a particular book/movie/audio and I tell them the library, they’re surprised.
There seems to be this strange double standard for what a “library” really is. Although the word seems to represent a large store of materials, there also seems to be the expectation that nothing will be available.
An Information Source
Regardless of what is actually stored within its walls, libraries are a source of information. Even if they don’t have an item on hand, a function of the library is to be able to get it for their patron – whether bringing it from another branch, or even loaning it from a different library system entirely. Libraries can get all forms of information, including books, movies, cds, or electronic resources.
Yes, traditionally, libraries were large warehouses for books, where scholars would go to do research. But libraries have become so much more than that now. Sometimes people (including me!) need to be reminded that libraries are amazing information sources, and can provide us with whatever information we may want or need.