Wednesday, January 5, 2011
OK, now be honest. How many times did you watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” over the holidays?
Oh, yes you did!
Most of us know the story –
Clarence, an angel who needs to earn his wings, comes down to earth to help a despondent George Bailey, who is contemplating suicide, to show George what life would have been like if he never existed.
It’s a fairy tale, but we watch this uplifting tale over and over because we all need reminding that we matter…that the world wouldn’t quite be the same if we were not in it.
(George has discovered his brother Harry’s tombstone)
Clarence: (explaining) Your brother, Harry Bailey, broke through the ice and was drowned at the age of nine.
George Bailey: That’s a lie! Harry Bailey went to war – he got the Congressional Medal of Honor, he saved the lives of every man on that transport.
Clarence: Every man on that transport died! Harry wasn’t there to save them, because you weren’t there to save Harry.
Clarence goes on to tell George, “You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”
So this got me to thinking,
What would the world be like without libraries?
(sound of me thinking) Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do
FADE IN – NIGHT SEQUENCE
CLARA’S VOICE (that’s me – I’m Clara the Angel)
You sent for me sir?
FRANKLIN’S VOICE (He’s the Head of the Angels)
Yes, Clara, People on earth need our help.
Splendid! Are they sick?
No, worse. They are not appreciating their libraries.
Oh, dear, dear! Their libraries! Then I’ve only got an hour to dress. What are they wearing now? (I must be fashionable! – wink)
You will go to earth and show the people what the world would be like without libraries.
Sir…If I should accomplish this mission – I mean—might I perhaps be able to secure library funding in perpetuity? I’ve been waiting for over two hundred years now, sir…
What’s that book you’ve got there?
LIFE by Keith Richards
Darn. I’m on the waiting list at the library for that.
Anyway, Clara, you do a good job showing the people how valuable their libraries are and you will get that funding.
Oh, thank you, sir. Thank you.
The stars fade out from the screen, and a light, an indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur on the screen slowly begins to take form. We see a group of young boys on top of a snow-covered hill.
EXTERIOR FROZEN RIVER AND HILL – DAY
The group of boys is preparing to slide down the hill on large shovels. One of them makes the slide and shoots out onto the ice of a frozen river at the bottom of the hill.
BOY: (as he slides down and reaches the bottom)
Yippee! I can’t wait to get to the library and get the next Harry Potter book.
OTHER BOY: (shaking his head)
You idiot. Don’t you read the papers? All the libraries have closed. Everyone took them for granted and they disappeared.
Oh, no. My dad lost his job and said there is no money for anything extra. How will I get that book?
INTERIOR LIVING ROOM
BOY’S DAD: (talking to his wife)
Sorry, honey. I have been looking for a job for six months now and there just isn’t anything. I had to cancel our Netflix, newspaper, Book of the Month, magazine and investments subscriptions. And we can’t afford our Internet access anymore either. But we can always go to the library for free DVDs and books and can read the magazines and newspapers there. We can use their computers, and I know they have investment materials too.
BOY’S MOTHER: (gently)
Oh, George, haven’t you heard? There are no libraries anymore.
BOY’S DAD (let’s call him George. I’m tired of typing “Boy’s Dad):
Oh, no. I was taking their free computer classes to improve my computer skills to help me get that job. And the librarians were so helpful when I needed assistance filling out the online job application forms. What am I going to do?
MILDRED: (the wife)
Well, at least we can go to an Internet Café for internet access, can’t we?
GEORGE: (shaking his head)
I had to sell the computer.
Remember the last time we were asked to vote to support the library and we thought it was too much? Now that we have to buy our books, DVDS, subscriptions, Internet access, investment newsletters, and all of the other services the library provided, what will it cost us?
GEORGE: (looking miserable)
I can’t even contemplate it.
When I put it all together, what we would have to pay to get everything we were able to get at the library – all in one place – it was really a bargain. I guess I will have to give up my genealogy research too. I was using Ancestry and HeritageQuest at the library. They provided those databases for free. Even if we had a computer and Internet access, we wouldn’t be able to afford our own subscription. What will I do? I had just found my ancestor from the Revolutionary War, Ezekiel Tufnell.
OTHER BOY’S HOUSE
INTERIOR LIVING ROOM - DUSK
OTHER BOY (let’s call him Bill so I don’t have to type OTHER BOY all of the time) is sitting at the table with his mother, Mary, and his little 3-year-old sister, ZAZA.
Mama, Mama, can’t wait to go to library to see Miss Susan and hear stowy.
Oh, Zaza, Mama is so sorry. There is no library anymore and Miss Susan is gone. She had to move away because people didn’t realize how important her story times were and how many children she was helping with the skills they needed to be successful in kindergarten. Last I heard she was working in a diner in Cle Elum.
Mom, I need you to help me with my algebra tonight.
Oh, Bill, you know I’m not good at math. Can’t you use the Homework Help at the Lib…Oh, no…No more free Homework Help either.
And where will I go tomorrow after school when you are at work? You know I always go there to get my homework done and use the computer. Dawn, the teen librarian, has some great programs on Wednesdays for teens too. And it's freezing outside.
I’m sorry, Bill. I, I, I just don’t know. Let me think…
Oh why did I take my library for granted?
INTERIOR – LIVING ROOM
Several adults of all ages are sitting around a table.
I am glad we can meet here for our book club now that the library is closed. But I hear Maury and Angela won’t be joining us anymore, because they can’t afford to buy the books. I don’t think people realized what an asset the library was for people like us. I’m a senior on a fixed income and going to the free programs at the library enriched my life immensely. It also got me out of the house to meet my friends and other seniors. It was a destination for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do now.
I know. My cousin has his green card and was taking citizenship classes at the library. Who knew? Those were the only free classes available. Not sure what he will do if he has to pay someone. He was also getting help with his English at one of their ESL classes.
I was going to the library to get help researching my book. The librarians were really helpful with the computer and making sure I was getting accurate information. I don’t know what I am going to do now. And without libraries, I am sure book sales will suffer. Libraries buy a lot of books!
I didn’t really think about the library. I just thought it would always be there.
An indistinguishable blur is seen. The blur fades to a starlit sky.
Strange, isn’t it? Each library touches so many lives. When they aren’t around it leaves an awful hole, doesn’t it?
I think you made your point, Clara.
CLOSE SHOT –Zaza and her mother at the entrance to their public library. Shot of church bell ringing.
Look Mama. Miss Susan says, every time a bell rings a library gets funding.
That’s right, that’s right.
FADE TO BLACK
I said it was a fairy tale.
And if you really didn't watch the movie over the holidays, the library has it!
(With acknowledgment to the film It's a Wonderful Life for some of the dialogue)