April seems to be a celebratory month: from National Sourdough Day on April 1 to the kickoff of baseball season to the local blooming of plum and pear blossom trees to National Bugs Bunny Day on April 30.
While all these activities commence, it might be easy to overlook something really worth celebrating: libraries. In fact, libraries are so important on the national calendar, they get an entire week. This year National Library Week, chaired by dancer and author extraordinaire Misty Copeland, happens April 8-14.
Locally, Ventura Friends of the Library and the Museum of Ventura County kick off National Library Week with a special screening of Ex Libris: New York Public Library, a documentary by Academy Award-winning director Frederick Wiseman. It’s a free public screening held at the museum on April 8 at 2 p.m.
Charles McDermott, Vice-President of Ventura Friends of the Library, has been instrumental in bringing the film here.
“I saw it in Pasadena when it first came out last October,” he recalled, “and I was just blown away.”
So much so, he was determined to bring this film home.
“I called Wiseman’s film company,” he continued, “and said, ‘Is there a chance of getting it?’ And they said, ‘Yes there was,’ so we were talking about doing it at Cinemark for a paid audience, but it turned out to be much, much easier to work out a free public screening.”
Turns out it was as simple as buying the Blu-ray. “We worked it out with the film studio and as far as Zipporah Films knows, this is the tri-county premiere,” McDermott noted.
In Ex Libris, McDermott believes that director Wiseman is making two important points.
“First of all, I think you’re absolutely aware that the library is probably the most democratic of all institutions,” he stated. “You have people of every race and every creed of every single age of every social economic bracket.”
The second point is that libraries, like the societies in which they exist, are changing with the times: “Wiseman is noting the sea change that all libraries are going through right now. They’re getting rid of the emphasis on books and moving into a digital age.”
In fact, as McDermott observed, Ex Libris is a film less about books and more about people. “The one thing that comes across in the film is that libraries are not about books,” he said. “Libraries are about people. The emphasis is on providing information for people.”
Ex Libris, which is more than three hours long, will include an intermission with wine, cheese and coffee.
Ex Libris will be screened on Sunday, April 8, at 2 p.m. at the Museum of Ventura County, 100 E. Main St., Ventura, and on Sunday, April 15, at 1 p.m. at the Topping Room of E.P. Foster Library, 651 E. Main St., Ventura. Both screenings are free. For more information, visit venturafriendsofthelibrary.org.
Media Notes is a semi-regular column by VCReporter staff and contributors about unique media events.