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Poll: Famous Librarians?

mary hatch librarian

We're not a glamorous crew...

I’ve been trying to think of famous librarians, but nearly everyone I think of is fictional.

There were plenty of librarians in Umberto Eco’s hunkless (according to my wife, but I know she’s right) and monk-laden romp The Name of The Rose, and there was the guy with the rubber stamp in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

Donna Reed played a spinster librarian in It’s A Wonderful Life–he sure was disappointed to find out what had happened to her.

Borges wrote plenty of short pieces mentioning libraries.

That ER guy made some movies called The Librarian that look so horrible that I  haven’t ever watched them. Please tell me if I’m wrong.

Dewey, of course, from Dewey Decimal fame.

And I wouldn’t have known this if I hadn’t read O Jerusalem, but Golda Meier worked as a librarian before becoming Prime Minister.

Betty from Scooby Doo looked like she was probably going to library school.

I am purposefully going to stop there because I was determined to do this off the top of my head. So I haven’t gone and looked any more infamous librarians up, fictional or otherwise.

I am going to challenge you to do the same. Try and name as many as you can without resorting to Google for a while. I’ll try too.



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mpfl March 29, 2011, 12:24 am

    Rachel Weisz as “Evie” in The Mummy (Googled to confirm spelling of her name)

    Can’t think of any famous RL librarians 😀

  • Eric | Eden Journal March 29, 2011, 5:49 am

    I think you meant Velma from Scooby Doo.

    To add to your list, Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s watcher, Giles, was a librarian, and they usuaully met in the library to discuss all their vampire business.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 29, 2011, 11:42 am

      What? Who wore the orange sweater? Am I thinking of…wait, what show had a Betty? Am I thinking of the Flintstones for some reason?

      • Isabella April 1, 2011, 7:39 am

        Velma was the girl in the orange sweater. Betty was in the Flinstones and Archie had a Betty too. Betty wasn’t very librarian like though. Either of them.

        Okay, so I cheated and looked it up online.
        Ben Franklin
        J Edgar Hoover
        Beverly Cleary
        Jacob Grimm

        So there you go, Josh. You can follow in thier footsteps and become a famous inventor/politican, a shady FBI director, a hot crimefighting hero as an alter-ego, or a writer..although you already have that one in the bag. I say go for the night job of a vigilante. You are the strongest librarian in the world after all!

  • melody March 29, 2011, 6:57 am

    Perry Hepburn was Katherine Hepburn’s sister and ran a library in Connecticut. It was poorly funded when she took over and had no phone. Once she got one installed, she claimed the only use that was made of it was people phoning to ask if she really was Kate Hepburn’s sister.

  • Rebecca March 29, 2011, 7:05 am

    Off the top of my head, Ray Bradbury took library science classes for a while. He loved working in libraries (and worked in one or two, at least) and thought he might do that as his day job whilst writing short stories late into the night, but ultimately he never completed his MLS. Elizabeth McCracken, the novelist and memoirist was a librarian before she turned to writing full time. Toni Morrison worked in libraries, but wasn’t a full-fledged librarian, so to speak.

  • Jodi Kaplan March 29, 2011, 8:53 am

    The one with the action figure! Would have to Google her name though…

    • Josh Hanagarne March 29, 2011, 9:00 am

      I am so embarrassed. I’ve actually written about her here on the blog before. Sorry Nancy.

  • melody March 29, 2011, 8:55 am

    Nancy Pearl!

  • Gustavo March 29, 2011, 8:57 am

    The most famous non-fiction librarian is “The blind librarian”.

    As you said, Borger wrote plenty of short pieces mentioning libraries; that was mainly because he was a librarian himself, and because he was blind, he was the inspiration of Eco’s character in “The name of the Rose”.

    He also inspired the blind librarian in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series, and he is also an important character in a novel I am trying to write myself (for a long while).

    Borges worked as the director of the National Library (Argentina) for 18 years. I actually went to visit the place some years ago.

  • Heather March 29, 2011, 9:44 am

    Casanova. Now there was one hot librarian! 😉 Nancy Pearl, of course. I’m thinking there was a philosopher, too–HUME! David Hume! AND Ben Franklin! Does Thomas Jefferson count? He DONATED his personal library, but does that make him a librarian, or merely an accomplice who aids and abets?

    Laura Bush, too. Forgot about her. Shocking, but true (slamming her husband, NOT HER).

  • Paul March 29, 2011, 10:12 am

    Do book collectors count? The only one coming to mid right now is Calvin Tower from the “Dark Tower” series.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 29, 2011, 11:20 am

      Good catch Paul. Let’s say they count. I’d forgotten all about Calvin.

  • Jim Janney March 29, 2011, 10:23 am


    • Josh Hanagarne March 29, 2011, 11:20 am

      Who is Ook?

      • Heather March 29, 2011, 12:01 pm

        Ook is The Librarian in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. The Librarian used to be human, but something happened there at Unseen University, and he got turned into an orangutan. All he says is “Ook.” When he gets really upset or angry, he’ll say “EEK!”

  • David March 29, 2011, 11:31 am

    Was there a Betty in Scooby Doo, or did you mean Velma?

  • fluxustulip March 29, 2011, 11:43 am

    Don’t forget the fabulous Librarian movie series with Noah Wyle! We are all wannabe super-heros, don’t you think?

    • Josh Hanagarne March 29, 2011, 11:44 am

      Is that the ER guy I mentioned? Are the movies actually good?

    • fluxustulip March 29, 2011, 5:48 pm

      They are actually a lot of fun. Very Indiana Jones. Jane Curtain and Bob Newhart are also Librarians in this series. They are a lot of fun.

  • Justin Matthews March 29, 2011, 12:34 pm

    the Librarian movies are a kick in the pants. They are made for TV family friendly, toned down Indiana Jones with some great humor. Bob Newheart and Jane Curtain are Noah Wylies bosses. They are worth a watch. Come over and get them, I have all 3

  • Steph March 29, 2011, 3:54 pm

    Didn’t Katherine Hepburn play a librarian in Desk Set with Spencer Tracy? And Goldie Hawn played a librarian in Foul Play opposite Chevy Chase…

  • melody March 29, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Yes, Kate Hepburn played a librarian in Desk Set. Apparently, she and her sister got quite a kick out of that role!

  • Heather March 29, 2011, 5:44 pm

    Wait. . . . there’s some sort of little-known indie-movie. . . . The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag. Here’s what I found about it on Internet Movie Database: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104376/

    Might have to YouTube or (ick) NetFlicks this one.

  • Beverly March 29, 2011, 10:55 pm

    Marian is the librarian in The Music Man!

  • Dan March 29, 2011, 11:40 pm

    Don’t forget ♪ ♫ Marion…Madam Librarian from The Music Man.

  • Marylene April 1, 2011, 12:44 am

    – The Librarian Forerunner from the Halo games franchise. (Well he is a sentient being!)
    – The chief archivist in Star Wars “Attack of the Clones” (don’t remember her name though)
    – Jorge Luis Borges was a librarian back in Argentine under the Peron regime
    – Callimachus (or at least I think it’s written that way in English — In french “Callimaque”) – We owe him the first library catalogue in Alexandria!