Memory of a Space Odyssey

Sometimes we hear from patrons who are searching for answers to reference questions. Sometimes, they just want us to help remember something for them. Like the time a patron wrote us asking if it was possible he could have seen the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey at Skokie Public Library in the late 1970s or early 80s. The patron admitted his questions was just a shot in the dark, but he figured if anyone could shine a light on this distant memory, it was our team of crack Reference Librarians.

We show movies all the time at the library, so it certainly is possible that we screened this film, but did we show this specific movie during the particular time our patron recalled? To find out, we turned to our Digital Collections Librarian, Jessica Goodman.

Jessica is tasked with maintaining our online archives which means she was responsible for digitizing the microfilm of our collection of Skokie newspapers. We hope they’ll live on our website someday, but for now they are stored on hard drives. That’s where Jessica began her search of local papers from the late 1970s and early '80s.

2001: A Space Odyssey was released in 1968. While it was not a commercial success, and was panned by many critics at the time, it is now considered a classic of American cinema. The film was directed by Stanley Kubrick and was based on a book of the same name by Arthur C. Clark. That's important in this case, because, while it doesn't seem that we've ever shown the film here at the library, we did find a program held here in 1983 that may be what our patron was recalling. The event was called "Films Inspired by Books from Tess to 2001" and it was presented on September 27 and 28, 1983. Jessica found this program mentioned in an article from both Skokie News and Skokie Life newspapers. The program discussed six books that had been turned into movies, and according to the article (see below), showed excerpts from 2001: A Space Odyssey. We were able to confirm that the film was also screened at Oakton Community College on December 9, 1977 and again in April of 1979 as part of a space movie marathon. Could any of these be the showings that our patron remembered?

Well, he was pretty sure he attended the books-to-movies presentation at the library in 1983 and that’s what he was remembering. Time can play funny tricks on our memories. We’re glad we could help our patron reach the destination of this reference odyssey.