or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Reference Question of the Week – 8/24/08

   August 30th, 2008

Attack of the B Movies posterHere's an example of what should be a simple question needing a round-about path to find the answer.

A patron came in asking for help finding movie listings. He'd heard there was a special showing at the local Showcase Cinema, called "attack of the" something, and he wanted to go. It's part of a series the theater is doing, showing certain movies on Thursday nights for $5.

But when he was at the movie theater, the employees wouldn't tell him what was showing on Thursdays. They said they didn't know. So he came to the library.

Usually for quick movie listings I check Yahoo Movies, but that didn't mention this special Thursday series. Also, all the phone numbers I could find for the theater were just their recorded show times, which likewise did not mention the special Thursday movies.

So the next step was to search the internet for "showcase lowell thursday attack." The first listing was the flickr photo shown above, which the patron was excited to see.

The second listing was "Attack of the B Movies" Series Playing at Select National..., an article about this series. It mentioned the information came from the National Amusements website, and after clicking around their site for a bit, we found their Special Program listing, which linked to the upcoming schedule of movies.

You can also check their locations listings to find a theater near you.

It took less than ten minutes to follow this chain of links to the answer, but it shouldn't have even taken that long. It's disappointing that the cinema employees (and the theater's phone recording) didn't answer this question right away, but I am glad the patron thought to come to the library. I hadn't heard of this movie series, and not only am I a fan of B movies, but I've also been asked about these twice since this first reference question.

Too bad this isn't a drive-in.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Reference Question of the Week – 8/24/08”

  1. Victoria A. Petersen Says:

    Brian, the state of cinema employees is very sad indeed. I have learned through numerous attempts that many know nothing except their exact task (and then not even that).

    The last time I called the theater – it was on a Thursday – I wanted to find out what the new movies would be THE VERY NEXT NIGHT. Of course, the employee didn’t know… He asked the other employees, of course they didn’t know… He then proceeded to call the manager at home… wow, the manager didn’t even know. (At least the employee followed through and tried to help!)

    I was finally directed to their website to find the change… Of course, at long last, I found that the website didn’t even know.

    Impressed that you were able to work around and find your answer in the movie madness labyrinth!

  2. Marnie Says:

    These numbers were collected by asking at the movie house. Of course, there is no certainty that the person who takes the call knows the answer to your question, but at least you get a real person.

    Movies, Showcase Cinemas
    Lowell (978)551-0050 Real person answers
    Woburn (978)933-5138 Real person answers

  3. ash966 Says:

    Another organization doing these “roadshow pictures” is Fathom Events:


    They seem to specialize in anime and opera. The only reason I’ve heard of them is that I subscribe to Anime News Network’s RSS feed. They have a news story whenever anime is shown in theaters. I believe these companies sort of “rent” the theaters from the theater chains, so the chain’s websites and automated phone lines may not list the programs (I have seen ads before movies, though).

    I think it’s nice that more obscure stuff is being made available in theaters, but it does make it hard for us librarians.

  4. Librarianguish Says:

    Gotta love Flickr!

    Great blog – I look forward to reading more. Just found you in suggested additions from Google Reader.


  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Librarianguish: Thanks for the compliment – I hope I can keep you entertained.