The Public

A new film by Emilio Estevez called “The Public” was inspired by an article which appeared in the LA Times in 2007 by Salt Lake City Public Library deputy director Chip Ward, and tells the tale of a librarian-led standoff with police after a group of homeless people take shelter in a Cincinnati library.

Libraries are becoming the safe havens of many people who either don’t have places to go, or need some respite from the elements. And while it seems like it might be the directive of libraries to provide space for any person who needs it, it can be a real problem for people who don’t believe that truth. Our spaces are open long hours. We have heat in winter and cool air in summer. We don’t require anyone to pay a fee to enter our buildings, nor have any specific purpose to be there. Everyone is welcome to enter a library and stay as long as they want.

“The Public” delves into the story of a group of homeless people who decide to stay, and a group a librarians who want to help. Strangely enough, it’s not always librarians who have the final say as to what happens in their libraries. Boards and municipalities often have input, as in this movie, and it makes for a lot of tension.

It sounds like an interesting premise for a film–and while the reviews for this movie haven’t been stellar, it might be something those who work in the library community can appreciate most.

If you’ve already seen “The Public”, did you enjoy it?