Many of you faithful industry watchers have probably already heard tell of the short documentary that Indigo CEO Heather Reisman commissioned earlier this year about the “crisis” in school libraries. It’s called Writing on the Wall, and while it spends a fair amount of time showing us how truly, appallingly neglected most Canadian school libraries are these days, it spends an equal amount of time trumpeting Reisman’s attempts to address the problem with her Love of Reading campaign. Over the past year or so, Reisman has been screening the film for publishers and politicians and anyone else who might want to support her cause, but as far as we’re aware it’s never been screened to the broad public.
Now, however, you can see it for yourself here, on Indigo’s website.
It’s fairly lengthy “ more than 10 minutes long, by our estimate “ but it’s worth a look, if only to see the maudlin denouement. After a straightforward “ if predictably cheesy “ first half, which simply documents the poor condition of most library collections and the lack of funding for teacher-librarians, the second half is like a reality TV game show. Reisman and her board pore over hundreds of school applications “ they get most excited for the submissions with macaroni art and sparkles “ and then we cut back and forth between two different schools that both desperately want and need one of the 10 $150,000 Indigo grants. The filmmakers actually put cameras in the two respective principals’ offices when the notifying phone calls come in, so not only do we watch and listen as Reisman informs one school of its win (accompanied by the expected tears of joy and laughter), but we also watch as one of Reisman’s monotone employees informs the other school that they have not been selected. In this latter case, the principal is alone in a gray, claustrophobic-looking office, and she nods sadly as she is told to try again next year. Ugh.