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Film looks at librarians as seen through Hollywood's sometimes unfair eyes

Andrea Lynn, Humanities Editor

Released 9/26/2007

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. —Hollywood doesn’t give librarians much of a break.

Sometimes they are portrayed as competent and professional, but more often they’re bun-wearing fusspots riddled with quirks and foibles.

To counter a plethora of negative impressions, an independent film company has produced and will screen on the U. of I. campus its new documentary, “The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film.”

Screenings will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 and 5 in Room 126 of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, 501 E. Daniel St., Champaign.

The film from Overdue Productions is the first full-length documentary to focus on the work and lives of librarians. During its nationwide release, Sept. 29 to Oct. 6, the documentary will be shown in approximately six dozen cities across the U.S.

A sneak preview of the film last June at the annual American Library Association conference drew rave reviews from audiences.

The U. of I.’s library and information science library is hosting the local screenings. Tickets will be available at the door, $8 for adults, $5 for children and seniors. Admission is free for librarians, library employees and students in library science.

A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the library and information science library, which is in Room 306 of the University Library.

According to the producers of the documentary, films such as “Sophie’s Choice,” “Philadelphia” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” show librarians as negative stereotypes.

“The librarians in ‘Lorenzo’s Oil,’ ‘Desk Set’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ on the other hand, are competent and professional,” the producers say.

In the documentary, dozens of interviews with real librarians are interwoven with movie clips of cinematic librarians and “serve as transitions between the themes of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and funding issues, and the value of reading,” according to the documentary Web site.

For background on the film and early reviews, go to the film’s Web site at

For more information about the local screenings, contact Sue Searing, the head of the library science library, at 217-333-4456;

“The Hollywood Librarian” is being released nationwide during Banned Books Week as a fundraiser for libraries.