10 Tips for an Excellent WGF Library Visit

The WGF Library is a great place to access film and TV scripts, as well as a quiet space with Wi-Fi to sit and get writing done. More than that, we’re free and open to the public. In the interest of making sure you get the most out of your visit, we’ve put together this tip/instruction sheet on how the library works and how to access our materials and resources.

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1.  CHECK OUR CATALOG BEFORE YOU VISIT

Our library is a treasure trove of scripts, from popular to obscure classic films to current TV. You probably have a script in mind that you would kill to get your hands on. And you might assume that since we have over 37,000 scripts in the collection, we have exactly what you’re looking for. While it’s true that 37,000 is A LOT of scripts, we don’t have everything ever written for the screen. Before you make the trek all the way to our little reading room (especially if you’re coming from out of town), check our library catalog prior to your visit.  

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In the little search bar at the top, you can type in a film or TV title (or a specific episode title or writer) and the catalog will let you know if the script exists in the library. If you do not see the script you’re looking for in the catalog, don’t despair. You can always call our reference desk to double check. For more current TV and film scripts, you can call and ask if we’re trying to get the script you’re looking for. If it’s not on our radar or request list, we might be able to track it down for you.

Our catalog simply tells you what we have in the library. You cannot read scripts via this website. You must visit the library in-person to access the materials.

When you’re looking at a library catalog record, pay attention to the format field. If it says “manuscript,” it means we have a hard copy of the script. If it says “digital,” it means when you visit the library, we will give you an iPad on which to read the script. Generally speaking, newer materials (post-2007) tend to exist digitally, while older ones exist in hard copy.

If you’re looking at a catalog record and you see in the notes field “Item is located in off-site storage. Please allow one week for retrieval,” it means we have the script. You just have to give us some time to pull it from off-site storage. Call us or e-mail us at least a week in advance of your visit and we can plan to make sure we have the script for you when you arrive.

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2.  BRING ONLY WHAT YOU NEED IN ORDER TO BE PRODUCTIVE

You may bring a laptop and pen and paper into the library. We have power strips to plug in your laptop. The library is usually very, very quiet, but it’s never a bad idea to bring headphones to keep yourself in the zone and drown out the ambient sounds of the street and of librarians helping patrons.

If you plan to read scripts, make sure you have some form of I.D., be it a driver’s license, a guild membership card, student I.D., etc. We’ll hold onto your I.D. while you’re looking at library materials.

Unless it’s a special occasion, we do not allow food in the library. As we realize the importance of hydration and mental fuel, we’ll allow water and/or coffee so long as it’s in a container with a lid.

If you have a computer bag, backpack or purse, we just ask that it’s small enough to keep under your seat and out of the way. We encourage the use of our free lockers for bags.

3.  CONSIDER WHERE YOU’LL PARK

On Saturdays, there is free, validated parking for library patrons available in the WGAW building. The entrance to the garage is underground on Blackburn Ave. However, during the week, prepare to park on a neighboring street (which is usually metered or restricted to two hours) or at the Farmers Market across the street (reward yourself for a productive day with a snack to get your parking validated). If you can, avoid all of this entirely by taking public transit or a rideshare.

4.  WE ARE NOT A REGULAR PUBLIC LIBRARY- SOME OF OUR RULES ARE DIFFERENT

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At a regular public library, you can check out books and take them home. Because our collection consists of scripts that have never been formally published and the copyright belongs to the studios, we cannot loan you any materials and we cannot make copies for you. All materials must be read in our reading room. We posted an informative blog post on why this is the case here.

At the public library, you can walk in, sit down and get to work. When you visit our library, please be prepared to sign in. First, you’ll sign in with security to get a name badge, then you’ll sign in when you walk into the library. Why do we make you sign in twice? It’s not because we don’t trust you. It’s because we use our library sign-in sheets to track usage. By signing in, you’re supporting us and showing that the library is of value to you. Signing in at the reference desk every new day that you use the library is a great way to get the librarians to know and respect you. You’ll get more out of your visits this way.

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5. THE LIBRARIANS ARE HERE TO HELP

Want to read one of the manuscripts locked behind glass doors and or on an iPad? Just ask one of the friendly librarians at the desk. Before we pull a script or give you an iPad, we’ll have you fill out a call slip, then we hold onto an I.D. during the time you’re viewing the scripts or iPad.

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If you’re browsing, features are bound in RED. Television scripts are bound in BLUE. Many of our older television scripts are kept in another room and, as mentioned, many of our newer scripts are accessed via iPads. If you don’t see something on the shelf, it doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t have it. Just ask the librarians.

6. ASK US FOR A RECOMMENDATION

As script librarians, we keep analytics. We know the hot scripts that everybody’s requesting. We know the classic scripts everybody should read as well as the well-regarded scripts in most genres. We’ve also collectively watched a lot of TV and movies and read lots of scripts and books on writing. This means we can often give you a helpful recommendation if you’re not sure what to read. Talk to us.

Javier likes to talk about feature screenplays. Hilary is the go-to person for old TV, and guild and Hollywood history. Lauren’s all about character development. While we’re not here to read your material or give you feedback or daily affirmations, we do love to talk story.

Keep in mind: if you’re talking to us for excessive periods of time, you’re not being productive. While we’re serving you in the library, we are also doing other work. We’re reaching out to writers to acquire more scripts. We’re cataloging new scripts and processing archival collections and tons of other things. We love to be interrupted, but please respect our time.

7.  THE LIBRARY IS BEST FOR QUIET, SOLITARY WRITING OR STUDY

The library is a quiet, focused space—and that’s why people usually find it extremely productive when they visit. We don’t have private conference rooms you can rent to work with your writing partners. This means we’re not a great place if you need to chat with your writing partner or rehearse that scene you’ve been assigned for acting class. If you can’t work quietly, this is probably not the place for you.

8.  WE’RE ALSO AN ARCHIVE

Did you know the WGF also hosts an archive? This means we keep materials relating to guild history as well as the papers of prominent members and writers. It also means we have unique materials in our collection such as show bibles, pitch decks, note cards, outlines, correspondence, and handwritten drafts from some popular films and TV shows.

If you want to gain insight into the writing or development process or prepare for your own pitches and meetings, studying these materials can be an invaluable experience. You can see what archival collections we have by searching the catalog or visiting the OAC search platform. Most pitches and show bibles exist on our iPads and can be accessed upon request on any given library visit.

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If you’re researching the career or works of a particular screenwriter and wonder if we have any related materials, start by searching our library catalog. The next step would be to contact the archive for suggestions.

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9.  WE ARE NOT THE ONLY LIBRARY/REPOSITORY WITH SCRIPTS

If you can’t find what you’re looking for at the WGF Library, you needn’t give up hope. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library exists about a mile and a half away from us. Their collecting speciality is film, and if we don’t carry a particular screenplay, they will have it. This website—the Motion Picture Script Database—will tell you which Southern California libraries have the script you’re looking for.

If you’re looking for television scripts, this is a great website for accessing early drafts of pilots online. We have a list of other libraries with scripts in our Resource Center.

10. VISIT TO READ AND/OR BE PRODUCTIVE

We operate under the idea that having access to great scripts can help you on your ongoing quest to become a better writer. Even the most successful film and TV scribes make it a habit to stop into the library to read—they know how vital it is to refine their taste, technique, and story sense.

Patrons come to read, to check the formatting of a specific show for the spec that they’re writing, or to take advantage of the quiet, productive atmosphere while under a tight deadline. It’s those who come in with focus, good-humor, a thirst for insight, and an appreciation of having access to otherwise hard-to-find materials who ultimately get the most out of the library.

 

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