05 January 2008

Road Map:: Jersey City, NJ (library from Party Girl, '95 cult classic with Parker Posey)

So... when exactly did the public library turn into Guantanamo Bay? Shouldn't librarians be ecstatic when someone-- in this case, a library student-- shows interest in their library?

A few years ago, a librarian asked me if I had seen the Parker Posey flick Party Girl. When I confessed to ignorance, she gazed at me with pity. I instantly understood: any hip librarian hopeful simply must watch this movie. So I did. I laughed. I cried. I cringed. I reminisced about clunky card catalogs. I adored it.

And it was decided that on our way to New York, we would try to find the library where Party Girl was filmed. The end credits thanked the Jersey City Public Library, so we printed out the map to the main library, and off we drove. It really is quite a lovely branch. A few librarians that I spoke with were quite friendly and accessible, and they did say that Party Girl was shot there. Yay! It really held great promise...

... until it was decided that I was a bit of an infidel. My simple Jumpy Library Project became suspicious, and after a long waiting period, it was decided that my picture-taking should be ridiculously limited, even after I clearly stated I would not be making any money off the pictures. I was devasted, and honestly, a little upset. I was polite and gave them all my contact information-- even bits of info I would rather not have given out, had I known the verdict. The taste in my mouth after that was a bit dry. I'd never been treated like a nuisance at a library.

Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. The person who makes those decisions was on lunch, and was probably highly annoyed at being bothered on their hour away from work. Maybe if this person had met me and I had described my project more clearly, it would have been different. Also, the librarians I personally talked to were quite gentle and sweet. They were in a difficult situation, because this was not their decision.

I suppose my experiences in Texas softened me. There, I would tell librarians I was in library school, and they usually responded quite warmly. I really haven't found that anywhere else, especially not in Pittsburgh. Here, as soon as I say that I'm a library student, I usually get indifference. I guess this is all part of the librarian experience. Sometimes we are greatly esteemed, sometimes not. Sometimes we play by the rules, and other times we are radical and militant.

Now that I am an official troublemaker with semi-contraband, I don't mind saying that it is more advantageous to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.

Jersey City Free Public Library: Main Branch
Jersey City, NJ (12.27)