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I Got Your Blockbuster Right Here!

Sean, Standley Lake Library

Some children aspire to be astronauts or doctors (or even librarians), but to me the video store clerk reigned supreme among all professions. Those dudes with their long hair, scraggly beards, unkempt clothes and Pigpen clouds of Patchouli oil screamed freedom to my 13-year-old self. I loved the elitism when they mentioned obscure films like intimations of holy writ.

They also never minded having a chubby, annoying adolescent such as me hassling them like a cross between a kid step-brother and a manager-in-training. Sometimes they had me watch the store during their smoke breaks. They made me feel Large and In Charge!

I’d have taken a bullet for those guys.

In most places these days, video stores and their clerks are relics supplanted by the impersonal likes of Netflix and Red Box. That’s evolution, my lovelies. I’d mourn the loss, except I see their disappearance as a big potential gain for libraries. After all, our eclectic DVD collection (including almost 9,000 feature films) remains the closest thing many folks have to those old rental shops.

I guess that sort of makes librarians into video store clerks. My grubby teenaged dream came true after all!

But do people consult librarians about films to watch? We’re joyfully mobbed for reading recommendations, but comparatively few patrons pick our brains about movies. Maybe that’s our fault. We offer Personalized Reading Recommendations, for example, but not Personalized Movie Recommendations. We have Summer Reading Club but not Summer Viewing Club. We just don’t seem as interested in promoting our knowledge of movies the way we promote our knowledge of books. Two years ago, for instance, I attended a seminar on film advisory in libraries that consisted of little more than having staff memorize the AFI Top 100.

What a dreadful strategy. Would a teen boy looking for movies like Superbad take me seriously if I gave him Some Like It Hot? He might never visit the library again.

Readers advisory dabbles in psychology, trust and competence. Librarians go through a lot of training to help people find their next book, training that easily translates to finding films. Just as we do with your favorite novels, we’ll help you break down what you liked about a movie so you can better choose your next one. Let’s say you tell me you want another movie like Inception. What did you enjoy about it? Was there something specific? Was it the mind-bending virtual reality aspect? Maybe you’d like Dark City. Was it the heist plotline and watching a diverse team coming together through adversity? Maybe you should try Ocean’s Eleven next. From plot and character to directorial styles, there are so many possibilities and thousands of films ready to be discovered—just stop by and ask us. We’re always here to help.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I've got to get this Patchouli oil out of my clothes.