Libraries have, for innumerable years, been a solace for individuals seeking books, knowledge, and perhaps even moments of solitariness. Actress Katherine Hepburn was quoted saying “What in the world would we do without our libraries?” and the famed Sci-Fi author Ray Bradbury once proclaimed “Libraries raised me”. The importance of libraries, therefore cannot be denied. However, it seems that with the dawn of the digital age, libraries have to step up to the plate, or run the risk of being left in the dark.
It certainly can’t be said that they haven’t done their best to keep up. Some libraries, more than others, are providing patrons with public computers, streaming services, rental of e-readers and tablets, and some even offer tools for rent to the enthusiastic home improver. For the Palm Beach County Library, their audiovisual collection represents a immense part of their ability to draw patrons through the door; this is particularly so for one of their most secluded branches, the Acreage Branch, located in the agricultural community of Loxahatchee, Florida. Art Film File interviewed librarian Chris Jankow, who is determined to take advantage of this much sought after service, even though his many efforts to provide patrons with a program that offers different films twice a month, seem to many times go by unnoticed.
Jankow reflects. “Movies are a good option for people who don’t want to sit and listen to a speaker”. For any invited speaker that comes to the Acreage Branch, the same principle applies, Jankow said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to come out here and have just two people show up. I think a movie is a good way to draw people in.”
It is a frequent sight that only two people show up at the screening of any film, be it classical or new; Jankow is still trying to work out the reasons why. “When it comes to their tastes culture, and things of that nature, it’s pretty varied I think”, which makes it even more of a conundrum as to why people won’t come to an announced movie matinee. “I think it’s a nice way to spend the afternoon” Jankow said. “There’s no movie theaters around, so it’s a good option for people to spend an afternoon, but sometimes it’s just me and a couple of other people. Which is fine, but I just wish it wouldn’t be just me sitting by myself”.
As puzzling as the absence of patrons for these programs is, Jankow will not give up. Movie Matinee is still an active program of the Acreage Branch, as it is for all the Palm Beach County libraries system wide. However, the competition is fierce with the growing popularity of Netflix and Hulu offering many times films that are fresh off the movie theaters for the cost of nine dollars a month. It remains to be seen if the Acreage library can get around this monumental hurdle and convince patrons to make a trip to the library for a much entertaining movie matinee.