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I Wanna Be On TV! Librarians in Pop Culture

by on June 3, 2015

All of us have been inspired by one thing or another. As librarians, many of us fondly remember a particular librarian from our childhood who always had a kind word or perhaps introduced us to Nancy Drew or Ponyboy Curtis. For others, that inspiration may have come from a librarian featured in popular culture. From the librarian in Monsters University to Flynn Carsen on The Librarians, there is no shortage of librarians to choose from.

One of my earliest memories of finding a librarian noteworthy and thinking “hmmm, that could be an appealing job” was Parker Posey’s character Mary in Party GirlNow, I’m not a girl, I don’t live in New York City, and I’ve never been arrested—so this seems like a stretch. Yet there was something about her discovering the joys of libraries and librarianship that really stuck with me. There is a scene in the movie where she has researched and culled some books for a patron who is overcome with delight and gratitude, and Mary replies, “So happy I could help.” I just remember thinking, “She got to read books and do research as her job—and people really appreciated it. Sign me up!” To me, there is nothing better than helping people discover some little treasure that they never knew existed and may not have found if I hadn’t been there. For example, I always own two copies of my favorite book A Confederacy of Dunces. One is for me, and the other is to give away to someone who has never read it, because I found that usually people love it so much they don’t want to return it. After all, who doesn’t fall in love with Ignatius J. Reilly and Miss Trixie?

Also, I really drew inspiration from Rupert Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Often the general population thinks of librarians as old women with their hair in a bun who shhhhh-ed you. Yet with Giles you got a man who battled demons and carried weapons in order to save the world, as well as knew the Dewey Decimal System. What was great about his participation in the show was that it always underscored the magnitude of doing research and being prepared before engaging in battle. Basically he preached being smart as well as strong.

Many shows and movies have highlighted the significance of librarians and challenged preconceived stereotypes of them. Which pop culture librarians are your favorites?

Photo Credit: Nevins Memorial Historic Collection

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