Section 7.0
Librarian Culture

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7.1 Where did the "Marian the Librarian" stereotype originate?
The following comes from Grimes, Deborah J. "Marion the Librarian - The Truth Behind the Image" in Scherdin, Mary Jane (ed.) _Discovering Librarians: Profiles of a Profession_ (Chicago: ACRL, 1994), pg. 3:

"In 1950, Meredith Wilson wrote a musical entitled _The Music Man, in which the lead female character is Marian Paroo, a small town librarian and music teacher. The character is a self-proclaimed spinster, who must continually resist the exhortations of everyone around her, including the mother with whom she lives, to "find a man". Marian is characterized as picky, hardworking, standoffish, bookish, and, by most accounts, pitiable. The phrase, "Marian the Librarian", was coined, along with the image, in a song in The Music Man. Over forty years later, the image continues to permeate public opinion and remain the stereotype of the professional librarian." 



7.2 What happens when downtown New York's fiercest ruling party girl finds herself down and out working in a public library? 

From First Look Pictures:
"Armed with a quick wit and begged or borrowed Gaultier, Mary (Parker Posey) struggles to pay the rent. As a hostess extraordinare Mary packs 300 of her closest friends into her Chinatown loft for a rent party. When her roommate, Derrick (Anthony DeSando ), splits with half the rent, and DJ Leo (Guillermo Diaz) threatens to walk out if Mary doesn't give him a place to stay, Mary throws open her doors to the NYPD and ends up in jail. Desperate, she calls her godmother, Mrs. Lindendorf (Shasha von Scherler ), who bails her out but insists. Mary take a responsible job - as a librarian! So despite her phobia of the Dewey Decimal System, Mary becomes a 9-5er.

"Mary's having an identity crisis. Torn between the high-drama, high-fashioned world of nightclubs and DJs and a steady paycheck as a librarian, she's not sure if she should grow up and settle down with Mustafa (Omar Townsend), the handsome Lebanese neighborhood falafel vendor, or join the ranks of Rene, the aging, strung out diva of New York's club scene. Or should she just curl up in a fetal position and couch potato the '90's out? 

"Daisy von Scherler Mayer makes her directorial debut with PARTY GIRL having co-written the screenplay with Harry Birckmayer who produced the film with Stephanie Koules. Starring Parker Posey (SLEEP WITH ME, DAZED AND CONFUSED), the supporting cast includes Sasha von Scherler, Omar Townsend, Anthony DeSando (FEDERAL HILL, Under Suspicion), Donna Mitchell (LESS THAN ZERO, THE ROOKIE), and Guillermo Diaz (FRESH, CROSSING THE STICKS."

Party Girl was also a FOX Network sitcom,, (Fall 1996, Mondays at 9 EST) , starring Christine Taylor as Mary. For an episode guide, see


"Monkeys have died trying to learn the Dewey Decimal system."



7.3 Can a werewolf librarian find true happiness?

"Wilderness" was a UK three-part TV series (Fall 1996), based on the novel by the same name by Dennis Danvers. It featured Alice White (played by Amanda Ooms), a broken hearted academic librarian werewolf who declares "academic libraries are sexy"". 

IMDB info:

Highlander Web Magazine article: 

Book info:



7.4 Where can I find information on librarians in film? 

From the sans-George Bailey spinster Mary Hatch (Donna Reed) in It's a Wonderful Life,, to the adventurous Evelyn Carnarvon (Rachel Weisz) in The Mummy, , many of the most memorable characters in film have been librarians.

Martin Raish's LIBRARIANS IN THE MOVIES An Annotated Filmography includes a bibliography of articles on librarians in film, 

Steven J. Schmidt ,of Indiana Univ.-Purdue Univ.-Indianapolis, has selected his Top Ten Films featuring Libraries, Librarians and the Book Arts, . His top pick: Sophie's Choice; Steve says the scene where Sophie asks for Emil Dickins (Emily Dickenson) "should be shown in every reference class as an example of the worst reference interview of all time."



7.5 Where Can I find the lyrics to songs with libraries in them?

Yahoo lists a large number of lyric pages, many with searchable databases:

A good place to search for the lyrics to thousands of old folk songs is The Mudcat Cafe Digital Tradition Folk Song Database,

(Joy Rutherford)!!-song99.cfm?stuff=fall99+D+1588623
"He's the bold librarian. 
Now, this librarian, he rode out all in the dewy morn, 
Come in my bold librarian, and I'll mek thee a pot of tea." 


Sliders, the former FOX and now Sci-Fi channel TV show, gives us:

"Library Rap"

Yo Homes, what's up?
What up with you?
Whatcha' gonna say?
Whatcha' gonna do?
Where you gonna go?
What we gonna see?
We're goin' to the li-bra-ree. 

I'm moving down the aisle with my Homeys in tow
We're grovin' through the home of the librarian Ho
She checks us out from behind thick glasses
We walk right past and we wiggle our asses 

Hemingway... Lawrence... Checkhov and Miller
Fitzgerald was a freak, Mailer is a killer... 

Quiet pleeease!
Quiet pleeease! 

The silence is golden
To books I am beholden
I know I'm bad
'Cuz of the knowledge that I'm holdin'
And I give you one warnin'
There will be no repeats
Get out of my face
While I'm readin' my Keats 

"Library Rap" is performed by MC Poindexter & The Study Crew 



7.6 Who is the patron saint of librarians? 


St. Jerome was born in Stridon, a town on the confines of Dalmatia and Pannonia, about the year 340-2. He died in Bethlehem, September, 30 420. Pope Damasus had selected Jerome to make a new Latin translation of the Greek New Testament. Jerome later expanded his assignment to include the Old Testament, which he translated from the Hebrew.

For online biographical information (and portraits):

Catholic Encyclopedia 

Saint Jerome's House 



7.7 How many librarians does it take to change a light bulb?  
Four. One to install the bulb and three to test it in staff mode for three months before the patrons get to use the light. 

Ok, I know it's bad, but the New Jersey State Library, invites you to visit and submit your own library jokes. 

For more laughs, take a look at IFLANET Library Humour, and their collection of library quotes, 

Do you want to know more about strange patrons, strange things found in books, and strange smells in the stacks? See Hypatia's Humorous Library Tales, by Jenny "the Circ Girl",
"If you had any idea what was going on in the minds of the seemingly normal people around you all day, you'd run for your life."

Also, MEL, the Michigan Electronic Library, has a terrific Humor and Culture in Libraries page, .

Llibrarians have even earned their own humor page on Yahoo,
/Job_Humor/ . Thank you, Denise Plourde,



7.8 Where can I get a list of sources of librarian images in comics?



For information about Batgirl and Mrs. McGreevey see Steve Bergson's Librarians in Comics: Sources on the Libraries FAQ Homepage

Library Cartoons: An annotated bibliography, by Denise Plourde, , includes links to many of the cartoons.



7.9 Are there sci-fi novels where librarians have a prominent role?


This list is derived from a thread on regarding librarians and libraries in sci-fi. (NOTE: Many people have sent me titles for inclusion in this section. If you don't see your submission listed below, it means I lost your email when my HD crashed. Please send them to me again. Thanks. )
  • Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge, features a librarian as a main character and depicts future worlds where whole civilizations live or die by their connectivity to "the net" (internet). Her job is to interpret the many layers of indexing that have evolved, and find the meaningful information that's buried there. (Description supplied by Sue Visser.)
  • Eon
    by Greg Bear
  • Dragon Companion, and
    Dragon Rescue

    by Don Callander
  • Against the Fall of Night, and
    Rama Revealed
    both by Arthur Clarke
  • Counterclock World
    by Philip K. Dick
  • Deathworld 3
    by Harry Harrison
  • Direct Descent
    by Frank Herbert
  • Restoree
    by Ann McCaffrey
  • Protector, and
    Ringworld Engineers
    both by Larry Niven
  • 1984 (Smith works in the Library of the Ministry of Truth)
    by George Orwell
  • The Colour of Magic, Lords and Ladies, and Wyrd Sisters
    by Terry Pratchett, . There is a librarian at the Unseen University who is an orang-utan; easier for tall bookstacks.
  • Gray Lensman,
    Children of the Lens, and
    Second-Stage Lensmen
    all by Doc Smith
  • Snowcrash by Neal Stephenson.
    There is an virtual entity, called The Librarian, who is key to the exposition and plot of the novel. 
  • A Plague of Angels, and
    Shadow's End
    both by Sherri Tepper



7.10 Are there mystery novels where librarians have a prominent role?
Yes, and the best source of information is Marsha McCurley's Bibliomysteries page, . Besides an extensive bibliography, McCurley includes lists of librarian detectives, staff victims, reference works, links to other listings, and a collection of quotes:

"...People just don't get murdered in public libraries. It's not done." -- Police Chief, in Murder in a Library by Charles J. Dutton

Continuing in the literary mode: Don't miss the Great Librarian-Poets, at Roth Publishing, Be sure you enter the "Librarians Are Poets, Too" Contest, .




7.11 What librarian is charged with helping Buffy, the Vampire Slayer fight ghouls, zombies, and other creatures of the night?
Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head), is "The Watcher", a California high school librarian chosen to identify and guide the single person per generation who can slay vampires with impunity. He is Buffy's mentor, trainer, and researcher. See Sonja Marie's The Giles' Appreciation Society Panters Home Page, , for quotes, links and more.

"He's like Super Librarian. Everyone forgets, Willow, that knowledge is the ultimate weapon."

"Ah, I love the smell of a desperate librarian in the morning." - Principal Snyder to Giles.


7.12 Other "cool" stuff...

For your consideration:

Some more cool cats (301 to be percise) can be dug at the Library Cats Map of the United States, .


7.13 ___ looks like a librarian?

"You Don't Look Like a Librarian! Librarian's views of public perception in the Internet age" by Ruth A. Kneale, Special Library Association, June 2002, In her presentation at SLA 2002, Ruth examined the popular perception of Librarians in the Internet age. You should especially check out Ruth's links to "Some Sites with Attitude" and her "References and Reading List."


Kent Olson of the UVA Law Library posted the following bit of research to the Law-lib discussion group (emphasis added):

  • Business Week 2/12/1990: "The public Dick Cheney gives few clues to the complex inner man. He looks like a librarian. But friends know him as a devoted outdoorsman with an infectious laugh. Boyhood chums remember a reckless teenager who got his kicks by hitching on behind a 1950 Plymouth convertible and skimming down an irrigation ditch on makeshift water skis."
  • Dallas Morning News 8/10/1997: "Chris Clee, 30, . . . with his curly brown hair, tiny oval wire-framed glasses and muscular physique, looks like a librarian who could pound a patron into the floor for not being quiet enough."
  • Newsday 8/31/1999: "Greg Maddux, the best National League pitcher since Sandy Koufax, takes the mound tonight with a broken bone in his right wrist. Asked about it, he shrugged. Maddux looks like a librarian. Toughest librarian you ever saw."
  • The Sun 4/8/2000: "Pensive, cool and wiping his nose with a white hankie, pint-sized killer Kenneth Noye strolled confidently towards the witness box of Court No 2. He looked like a librarian, a buttoned-up grey cardigan over an open necked blue shirt, with his grey, pudding-bowl haircut."
  • Washington Post 7/7/2001: "One of the more telling moments of the Wimbledon fortnight came when Goran Ivanisevic tore off his shirt after winning his quarterfinal match -- and revealed a chest that looked like a librarian's."
  • Commercial Appeal 9/5/2001: "Jim Anderson looks like a librarian. He's a little rumpled, in an absent-minded-professor way. The blue eyes that peer from behind his glasses twinkle from serious to amused, and his smile is quick and kind"

For more "looks like a librarian" comparisons try this Google search:


Some miscellaneous librarian perception stuff that was posted on the law-lib listserv:

An hp ad states "What the Interent needs is an old-fashioned librarian" (in both .jpg and .pdf formats):

An ad in the January, 2002(?) Rolling Stone described a sexy woman as "Librarian by day, Bacardi at night" . You can see the ad at the New Breed Librarian:

An ad for the Honda Accord V-6 Coupe described the car as : "The automotive equivalent of a really hot librarian. Good-looking, yet intelligent. Fun, yet sophisticated. All in a very eye-catching 200-horsepower package."


7.14 Which First Lady was a librarian?



Laura Bush received her MLS in 1973 from the University of Texas at Austin. Mrs Bush worked at the Houston Public Library, Kashmere Gardens Branch, and at Dawson Elementary School in Austin.

Her speech at the Topeka Public Library Gala on January 9, 2002:


See previous page section 6.0 Organizations 

Go to section 8.0 Net Resources 

Anthony Wilson

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