Last week I walked into the library, ready to start my work day, when my branch manager grabbed me and said, "I've got something to show you!" Since one of my duties is serving as the building supervisor of a 47-year-old library, I just knew some aspect of the building was falling apart.
To my surprise, we'd received an envelope in our Library Foundation box the night before. Inside was this note:
"More than entertaining, the movie presentations at Severna Park are educational and promote fellowship among neighbors."
Also enclosed was a check to the Library Foundation for $500.
Wow. I'm still stunned as I'm writing this. The gentleman responsible for this generous donation has attended every Great Movies event at Severna Park as well as our other special movie presentations for at least a couple of years. He also participates in the after-movie discussions. I had a pretty good idea he enjoyed our programs, but had no idea we would see this type of gift from him or anyone else who attends our events. I am blown away, humbled, and so appreciative.
I'm delighted with the monetary donation, but just as delighted (if not more) with the knowledge that we are, to use this gentleman's words, helping to "promote fellowship among neighbors." As I've mentioned before, that's what our movie events are all about. I try to pick not only great movies, but films that still resonate with modern audiences for a reason. I want our audiences to enjoy the films I show, but I also want them to discover elements from films that still touch us, anger us, give us hope, and remind us that we're humans living in an imperfect world, trying to catch a glimpse of beauty and wonder in our lives. I think we can do that by watching and discussing movies like Casablanca, In a Lonely Place, Shadow of a Doubt, Playtime, Duck Soup, All the President's Men, Gaslight, The Right Stuff, Double Indemnity, The Night of the Hunter, Ace in the Hole, and more. (And they're not always movies from the classic era, but they usually are.)
Our audiences sometimes disagree on various aspects of these films, but isn't that the point of a discussion: to hear opposing viewpoints in an open and welcoming atmosphere? I am so fortunate to be in the Anne Arundel County Public Library system, a system and a branch that allows me to present such movie events. My branch manager and co-workers are very supportive as is the Library Foundation. Again, I'm very fortunate.
If you're in the Washington DC/Baltimore area, you can always join us on the first Thursday of the month for our Great Movies series. (You can read about our next Great Movies event and our upcoming African-American History month movie.) If you don't live in the area, I urge you to ask your local library to start a program that screens movies and provides the audience to discuss them afterward. Such programs bring movie fans together and helps build community. We can always use more of that.