Famous Hollywood Hills in California, USA. Hollywood Sign. California Photo Collection.
Courtesy of Wikicommons: George Eastman House, Set 72157608512488080, ID 2987740376, Original title [NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY]
By Shawn Proctor
This summer Falvey Library is going to the movies! Well, we’re using our beloved Library’s resources to research the coolest film scenes set in libraries. So grab a seat and a box of popcorn because the we’re going to look at when libraries go to Hollywood.
Want to win a cool “Falvey Says Read” tee shirt? Email your favorite movie library to email@example.com, and we’ll pick a winner at random!
We’re not afraid of no ghosts! But the opening scenes of Ghostbusters, the 1984 classic horror-comedy, are actually pretty scary as we follow Alice, an older librarian, down the shadowy bookshelves.
“Deep in the basement of the New York Public Library (NYPL), strange things are happening: Books float from shelf to shelf in midair, cards spew from catalog drawers, and a librarian confronts a terrifying . . . something. Enter Drs. Venkman (Bill Murray), Spengler (Harold Ramis), and Stantz (Dan Aykroyd): “paranormal studies” researchers working in, but barely tolerated by, the psychology department of Columbia University,” explains The Laughing Dead: The Horror-comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland. (Access available via ProQuest.)
While the film made use of many notable New York City landmarks, the ominous exterior of the NYPL, complete with massive marble lions, sets the tone for all of supernatural scares ahead. The pair of big cats look as if they might pounce off their pedestals right then!
Courtesy of NYPL
Did you know? The two lions are named Patience and Fortitude! And they are 112 years old, according to the NYPL!
If you want to see more images of the lions through the years, visit this NYPL Google Drive.
“(T)he screenwriters imagined that the urban setting was appropriate not only to the comic riffs of their characters (and the unflappable locals), but also to the mythology they were creating for their demons and ghouls. The buildings in New York are old and rich with history, full of ghosts and their legends,” says the book Fun City Cinema : New York City and the Movies That Made It. (Access available via ProQuest.)
“Of course, it adds to the comedy when the Ghostbusters themselves are only fractionally braver than Alice the librarian,” adds Karen Kettnich and Paul T. Jaeger in their Library Quarterly article “Libraries and Librarians Onscreen and in Library Quarterly, Part 2, Or, The Greatest Hits of the ’80s, ’90s, and Today!”
Do you still use physical media like DVDs? You can borrow a DVD set of Ghostbusters 1 & 2 via Falvey’s Interlibrary Loan service!
Throughout the movie, the exteriors were consistently New York, but you might not realize that very few of the interior sets resided on the east coast. Filming shifted to Los Angeles due to save on filming costs. The library scene is no exception.
“…the stacks of the library are the stacks of the library. Even though they’re quite particular at the great New York Public Library on 42nd Street, we didn’t think it would be a problem to move that scene [to L.A.],” Ivan Reitman told LA Weekly in 2016. “Where we made use of the great reading room [of the New York Public Library] — and we were always going to film there as soon as I walked through it and was given permission to shoot there — I said, “Well, this is incomparable, so we have to shoot here.”
As Falvey is home to the impressive Dugan Polk Family Reading Room, we can completely understand that sentiment.
Got a favorite movie that features a library? Comment below!
Falvey Library Resources Cited:
Columbia Pictures,, et al. Ghostbusters 1 & 2. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc., 2017.
Jason Bailey. Fun City Cinema : New York City and the Movies That Made It. Abrams, 2021.
Kettnich, Karen, and Paul T. Jaeger. “Libraries and Librarians Onscreen and in Library Quarterly, Part 2, Or, The Greatest Hits of the ’80s, ’90s, and Today!” Library Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 4, 2020, pp. 389-411, https://doi.org/10.1086/710268.
ProQuest Ebook Subscriptions, et al. The Laughing Dead: The Horror-comedy Film from Bride of Frankenstein to Zombieland. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
Shawn Proctor is a Communication and Marketing Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.