Moving Picture World (Nov-Dec 1927)

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40 MOVING PICTURE WORLD November 26, 1927 Library Cooperation This department will, from week to week, endeavor to help both exhibitors and li- braries to establish, maintain and improve film co-operation. In the next issue of Mov- ing Picture World will be explained library - film co-operation briefly and generally; fol- lowing this general survey will come stories devoted to various phases of this interesting development which brings together for mu- tual benefit and the greater benefit of the public. How to start co-operating, stills, bookmarks, exhibits, novelties in co-operation —each of these will have its turn. Inquiries will be answered on this page or, when this is not possible, by mail, if a stamped, ad- dressed envelope is enclosed. IBRARY-FILM co-operation is success- 41 r ful according as each of the two fac- >^r tors concerned—the library and the film industry—learns and understands each other’s veiwpoint and needs. Every co-operation should result in a fifty-fifty benefit and library- film co-operation is no exception to this rule. Of course, special problems present them- selves when a commercial organization co- operates with one non-commercial in aim and method. These problems, however, are easily solved with the aid of understanding and a sense of fair play. The public library, though money transactions are eliminated from its policy and its perform- ance, nevertheless has its work to do and its results to accomplish. Prominent among these are the circulation, to those who need and want them, of the books it buys. This, then, is the province, for the library, of library-film co- operation—the featuring of worth-while films in order to secure circulation for connecting books. Thus it will be seen that many films, admirable and even outstanding in themselves, are and should be passed by so far as libraries are concerned, since they offer, either no book connections or those the library cannot, for various reasons, advertise. For that is what film co-operation amounts to for the library— advertising for the books it wishes to circulate. In this process it is inevitable and fortunate that the films thus featured are also advertised and this is where the producer and the exhibitor come in. These are not debarred from making the co-operation profitable to themselves nor even from basing it on profit to themselves as long as in so doing they deal fairly and hon- estly with the library and seek neither to force nor to deceive it into being false to its own policy, a policy which is part of its trust to the public that pays its expenses. Right here comes an opportunity to say something which it gives the writer great pleas- ure to say. In my four years’ work in library- film co-operation for the Cleveland Public Li- brary, which was a pioneer in this movement, I have found the film industry fair and honest. Only one exception to this statement comes to mind and that was when the photograph of a Cleveland Library exhibit connecting with one approved film was changed, “faked” and used in connection with a different film that had not been approved. Had this incident been many times duplicated, library-film co-operation would not be where it is today: like the famous “grandfather's clock,” it would have “stopped By Ina Brevort Roberts short, never to go again”; such methods de- feat themselves. Libraries too have their responsibilities in this matter of playing fair, a matter in which they do sometimes fall short; not from inten- tion, for libraries are notably honest in inten- tion and performance, but rather from ignor- ance of commercial ethics, which differ some- what from those of institutions that do not have to pay their way in actual money in order to go on living. The exhibitor must pay his bills if he would continue to operate his theatre. Fortunately, both libraries and cinema club's have learned that no matter how fine a film may be, the ex- hibitor cannot afford to show it to empty seats. Right here is where the library comes in, for it can and does help to fill the seats at the showing of films excellent in themselves by adding to their interest through the books con- necting with these films. The public library cannot co-operate with a film simply because it is a good film. There are ways, however, in which the library can aid the exhibitor and increase its own co- operation benefit—this is by installing film ex- hibits and displays as far as possible in ad- vance of the local showing of the film. Libraries are apt to fall lamentably short in this particular, partly because they do not think, do not sufficiently consider the “fifty-fifty” aspect of the situation and partly because thorough co-operation is not quickly done; it includes research that takes time and must be sandwiched in between multitudinous other du- ties. Libraries gain a good portion of the circulation resulting from co-operation with a film after the film has come to a theatre and gone again; the exhibitor must get all his bene- fit before and during the local showing. For this reason, libraries, if they accept the exhibi- tor’s help, especially in the form of the loan or gift of stills, should “speed up” sufficiently to give the exhibitor a square deal. This is more a matter of habit, this getting things done on time, than all libraries are ready to admit. The reason for this is that the librarian’s standard is apt to be “not how soon, but how well” a piece of work is done. The following list of films that have been approved for co-operation by the Cleveland Public Library will be found useful. The Cleveland Public Library is one of the largest and most important in the country, and, as a pioneer in library-film co-operation, its opinion and experience have weight: SOMETHING NEW IN A LIBRARY DISPLAY FROM MRS. ROBERTS This display in the Cleveland Public Library sells related reading in connection with Seventh Heaven, and does it with book jackets and stills from the Fox production. The book jacket idea is something new and very good.