A friend at work recently asked me if we had the Netflix streaming service at our home and I replied that we didn’t and then made a silly joke about why we don’t but, really, we don’t have it at home because we watch enough TV and movies with traditional cable. I know that if we had constant access to that kind of entertainment in our home it would be a struggle to ever leave the couch. But, I’ve been really thinking about this and I realize that WPL and the customers I regularly talk to are just like my own personal Netflix service.
A few weeks ago one of the customers who comes in often told me he thought I would enjoy the recent remake of the movie Tarzan and I said, “are you sure? It looks pretty scary to me.” His reassurance that it was worth the scare encouraged me to place a hold on a movie that I had previously discounted. This is a customer who knows his movies and always has good suggestions so I knew he would provide a great recommendation. Could Netflix tell me that the 2016 version of Tarzan is not too scary for me to watch?
Many mornings I check in DVDs from customers who provide commentary on things that they have enjoyed or not found to be as good as they have hoped. These are fantastic reviews with smiles and detailed opinions about the quality of the acting, how well the filmmaker used special effects or whether the director made good decisions and they are so much more fun than what you read in the newspaper or read online. I’ve had the most satisfying conversations with WPL customers about whether or not Woody Allen should keep making films, whether Independence Day should ever have been remade (the consensus is it should not), and why are so many films being made for the teen audience. Would that kind of give and take ever come to me from Netflix?
About a month ago when I was enjoying a busy afternoon on our Circulation desk a man passed a DVD across the counter to me with the enthusiastic comment, “You have to watch this!” When I asked him to tell me about it he said that it was almost too hard to describe but that it featured two men who were good friends and enjoyed an unusual hobby. So, I checked it in and said that I would give it a try (if it didn’t have a customer hold on it, of course). Once I had the DVD in my hand and had a look I saw that it was a truly unusual hobby – metal detecting – and I checked it out for the weekend. That is definitely better service than Netflix, wouldn’t you say? He handed the DVD right to me and told me to watch it.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the BBC series called The Detectorists which is written, directed by and stars Mackenzie Crook then you are missing out. It will instantly sweep you away with the friendship between these hobbyists who meet to share their finds of buttons, buckles and metal debris that they have unearthed in local fields. It’s the pleasure of watching them walking slowly through these fields, talking about their lives, hoping that they will find something wonderful that endlessly charmed me. In between the ‘detecting’ there is real drama of a sort – a lost love, friendships in turmoil, some competition over who would chair their club, and a secret from the past that is finally shared – but their faith that they will find treasure underneath the soil is so comforting that I simply could not stop watching. I was binge watching a TV show for the first time… and it was about 40-year old men who use metal detecting as a hobby. I would never have found this show without the help of a WPL customer. Would I have found this treasure through Netflix?
The Waterloo Public Library and the customers here are my own personal Netflix service. It is saving me time and money and I am having so much watching the suggestions I get. Now if WPL could just do something about my laundry and dinner dishes life would be pretty close to perfect.