Catching up on photos

Over “on the Flickr” you may enjoy a dozen or so photos I’ve taken over the last several weeks. Yes, Yorkville’s marble desk has been destroyed. Its new desk looks just like the desk in the de facto Islamic branch, and the shelf on the front edge isn’t wide enough to rest a magazine on. Disaster.

Oh, and? Herewith I launch Redbeltwatch. This B-list martial-arts drama (by A-list scribe/tough guy David Mamet) epitomizes everything that’s wrong with TPL’s program of feature-film collection. You have to move copies of Redbelt to sit down in typical branches; Dufferin/St. Clair has three.

Three copies of ‘Redbelt’ on DVD

Shitty Hollywood entertainment the library bought too much of

Too much of, I repeat. It’s not like I’m saying they shouldn’t have bought any copies of these Hollywood entertainment DVD products. But in a moment we’ll just do a quick comparison, mmkay?

  • Fred Claus (135 copies)
  • Imagine That, whatever it is (100)
  • Bride Wars (142)
  • Yes Man (191)
  • Swing Vote (98)
  • Confessions of a Shopaholic (162)
  • And yes, ladies and gentlemen, Beverly Hills Chihuahua (129)

Now let’s take a look at extremely culturally important Canadian dramatic feature films. True, most of them are crashing bores even to the film snobs and auteurs who claim to like them, but if you can’t get these things from the library, where the hell else are you going to get them? (I’ll be coming back to that one too, mmkay?)

  • Adoration (25 copies on order)
  • Bon Cop, Bad Cop (★★★; 62)
  • Cairo Time (28 on order)
  • Nurse, Fighter, Boy (22)
  • How She Move (72)
  • Polytechnique (21)

Top Tens

In fact, of the 2009 TIFF Top Ten, only Cairo Time and Polytechnique are collected by the library. From the 2008 list, only these are in TPL’s ranks:

  • Before Tomorrow (21)
  • Heaven on Earth from queen of crashing bores Deepa Mehta (unknown quantity)
  • Mémoire des anges (also unknown)
  • Lost Song (24)
  • Pontypool, which wasn’t terrible (23)

I found exactly one Canadian film that broke past the magic threshold of a hundred copies: One Week at 104.

But hey, they’ve got the soundtrack to Maman est chez le coiffeur. I found a couple of cases like this, actually. It’s like we’re too good to drive down Queen St. in the movie, but can grit our teeth and put up with the mud splashed onto us by its soundtrack.

What about the only fun Canadian movie of the last ten years, Hard Core Logo?

One copy on VHS. Same for the only enjoyable Atom Egoyan picture, The Sweet Hereafter.

TV shows on DVD

A nice thing to have. TPL is replete with reruns of Cheers, Mary Tyler Moore, Sex and the City for guys who don’t like their balls, JAG for guys who do, and a list of other colonial cultural products. If you’re a TV snob, they’ve got Breaking Bad and Mad Men. (In that vein, compare and contrast Babylon 5, which they’ve got, and BSG, which they ain’t.)

There’s Da Vinci’s Inquest from the previous century, Corner Gas, Robson Arms, and even Trailer Park Boys, but no Flashpoint or Being Erica (though you can borrow the latter’s soundtrack). I view Canadian TV on DVD as much less of a failure of collection.

But when it comes to Canadian feature films, the Rogers store in the Beach has a wider selection. I’m sorry, but I’ve got issues with that.

Buy out Glad Day

Here’s the obverse of a graphic novel at Gladstone:

Handwritten price and other labels alongside an orange tag from Beguiling: $16.95

Oh, so we’re buying comic books from the Beguiling now? Well, that’s fine. (Or maybe they’re just the distributor, but go with the first idea for a moment.)

Glad Day Books, the antediluvian, difficult-to-like homosexualist bookstore, has a treasure trove of items unavailable anywhere else. Of particular interest are their several spinner racks of DVDs, chock full of every gay movie you’ve never heard of. Since the taste level of TPL’s DVD selection committee sits second to bottom above that of the CD selection committee, movie choices tend to be quite poor. TPL overbought on anime and Law & Order reruns and seems to have two unwanted copies of Redbelt at every branch. And despite assurances to my face, the library would prefer to buy hundreds of copies of shitty American product than five copies each of every single Canadian film released every year. (Actually, that’s a post in itself, but let’s continue.)

TPL should just swoop in with a blank purchase order and buy out the entire non-porn DVD collection at Glad Day. In cases where the store has only one copy of a title, that’s still more than enough information to buy a few more. Stick one copy in the graveyard of the Reference Library, never to be seen again, and let the rest circulate (yes, with holds allowed).

Or just go there with a reasonable digicam and take a picture of the cover and ISBN of every movie in the store, then go back and order them. But why go through all that hassle? Just clear the place out.

This would be a good time to discuss simply buying half the store. That’s what the proprietress of the old design bookstore Another Man’s Poison wanted UofT to do, but they were too stupid to take the bait and just buy the place and inhale all its books.

In this case, I wouldn’t be a priss about it. I wouldn’t carefully double-check the catalogue to ensure the library does not already have one precious copy of any particular book, invariably locked away in the vaults at TRL. (Like, I dunno, Mates.) Besides, that would take weeks. Just swing a deal to buy everything that isn’t a calendar or outright porn. (And why not some of the latter? The library already buys it. So did UofT back in the day.) That wouldn’t necessarily cost full retail, either; I’m sure both sides could do business.

What exactly is wrong with this idea? Do you really think the library knows what it’s doing enough, and has enough contacts, to stock sufficient gay and lesbian books? An amusing bit of puffery there, I’d say. Assuming you can put up with the atmosphere for that long, spend half an hour just reading the spine titles on a couple of the shelves at Glad Day. Then walk up the street to Yorkville and compare the books on display (admittedly, what they’ve got there are new releases). It’s no contest.

Does TPL want a good collection, or is it more interested in avoiding any suggestion its own in-house staff and procedures have failed to produce such a collection? Well, it’s too late: I’m saying right here that TPL’s gay collection isn’t good enough. There’s an easy fix close at hand. But to do it, somebody would have to admit that the current system isn’t working. Somebody other than me.