A Newbie’s Visit To The Margaret Herrick Library

A meager two weeks or so hence I embarked upon the most important day trip of my film history fanatic life–a trip to the Margaret Herrick library at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. I’d always hoped that one day I would make it there, but lo and behold it was sooner than expected! My second (longer) visit to Hollywood was too obviously a golden opportunity.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Herrick, it’s a prestigious reference library devoted entirely to film history. For anyone dabbling in serious cinematic research, going to the Herrick is practically a rite of passage. Its book and vintage magazine collection is fabulous and its Special Collections department is nothing short of priceless. I mean, Buster Keaton’s baby pictures are there. Yes.

Since I had a research project going (sit tight, details are coming!), I had decided that yes, I would take the leap and request an appointment to see some items in Special Collections. Admittedly, this was somewhat terrifying–scrolling through newspapers and vintage magazines on the Internet from the comfort of my Victorian-style couch from Goodwill is one thing, but actually sifting through delicate original documents under the watchful, professional eyes of the Herrick librarians was most definitely another.  Continue reading

Check Those Sources!–A Handy Guide

It’s time to go over something so important, so essential to research, that colleges should teach entire courses on it: how to tell good sources from bad ones.

Now, a “source” is not merely some dry technical thing that only interests college professors and newspaper writers.  Sources of information are a part of daily life.  When you look up a recipe in a book, that book is a source.  When you go on a website to see what time a store closes, that site is your source.  When you ask someone where your sunglasses are and they reply “On your head, stupid,” that person is a source. Continue reading