Libraries are such an integral part of our community, we often take them for granted. So once a year, we have National Library Week – this year April 11-17 – to allow us time to acknowledge their value. Libraries provide information and entertainment for millions of people everyday all over the world, whether on a college campus or a major city or a small town. And there are the librarians who help us find what we need.
During this week of recognizing the importance of libraries in our lives, I thought about movies and television series that feature librarians who aren’t boring people of study and sternness only. These stories depict library professionals as well-rounded, multi-dimensional people, defying the stereotype we’re often shown. There is intrigue, romance, and adventure in their souls. These movies and TV shows are just some of my favorites.
Librarians as Adventurers
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) – Anthony Stewart Head plays Rupert Giles, one of the first librarians shown to be tough and adventurous. He not only took on vampires, he also took on the task of training and overseeing Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), the teenager born to a slayer. I’m not sure which was the more dangerous task.
- The Mummy (1999) – Rachel Weisz has one of my favorite lines in movie history: I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure seeker, or a gunfighter, but I am proud of what I am. I am a librarian! Of course, after teaming up with adventurer Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and exploring a pyramid in Egypt and fighting resurrected mummies, she becomes all of those things.
- The Librarian (2004, 2006, 2008) – Not just a librarian but the Librarian. The person in charge of the greatest treasures in the history of the world. And the person who must track down any treasures lost or stolen. Noah Wyle stars as Flynn Carsen in this light-hearted series of adventure movies. Veteran comedic actors Bob Newhart and Jane Curtin co-star.
Librarians as Lovers
- The Music Man (1962) – It’s hard to think of librarians without remembering Marian Paroo from this classic musical. Shirley Jones plays the sensible woman undone by traveling salesman/con artist Harold Hill (Robert Preston) – who, in turn, falls head over heels for the lovely librarian. Matthew Broderick and Kristen Chenoweth starred in a 2003 television remake.
- The Time Traveler’s Wife (2009) – Rachel McAdams plays Clare Abshire, a woman in love with time-traveling librarian Henry DeTamble, played by Eric Bana, in this romantic fantasy drama. As Henry bounces back and forth in time, he and Clare find their lives increasingly complicated, even as their love grows.
Librarians as Smart and Sexy
- Desk Set (1957) – This is one of those movies that every librarian loves. When engineer Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy) is hired to install his super computer in a television network library, he manages to both irritate and intrigue head librarian Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn). (Yes, the computer is huge, but this is 1957. Computers took up whole rooms at that time.) But can the computer really beat four sharp and savvy librarians when it comes to real research? Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill, and Sue Randall round out the library staff, with Gig Young co-starring.
- Party Girl (1995) – Wild child Mary (Parker Posey) is hired as a clerk by her librarian godmother (Sasha von Scherler) and discovers that being a librarian can be really cool. And you can hang onto your individuality.
Enjoy National Library Week!