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A library atop a spire: Dr. Oldham and the Gargantia anime series

Recently, I remembered an episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (also known as Suisei no Gargantia). In the fourth episode of the series, “The Flute of Recollection,” the show’s protagonist, Ledo, wants to learn about his whereabouts. So, as one episode description puts it, his new friend Amy takes him to the smartest person she knows on the fleet, Dr. Oldham, “who explains to him that most of mankind’s old technology is lost, thus there is no way for the Gargantia to help him return to space.” But this description lacks the reality that Oldham is a librarian and a medical doctor, working out of his own library atop a spire, equivalent to an ivory tower:

Amy begins this almost 2 and half minute library scene by opening the door, showing the bookshelves:

We first see more books in the library as Amy announces herself:

We as the audience then meet Dr. Oldham, see a nurse (presumed to be his daughter), an assistant (presumed to be a son).

Amy asks him a question and introduces him to Ledo:

After Amy leaves, we see more of the library, with places to sit, a telescope facing out the window, and light from electric light (and sunlight). This place is a bit degraded, to say the least about it!


Dr. Oldham then asks Ledo to sit, which he does, by a stool, while Oldham has a shelf of books of various  subjects, what I would call a reference shelf:

We later see Ledo with his back to the bookshelves, asking a question using his mecha, Chambers:

He then begins reading a book, noting their lack of knowledge:

Oldham then tells Ledo he can ask all the questions he wants…


Oldham laughs after that when Ledo says the social organization of Gargantia doesn’t make sense, perhaps the best part of this scene:

Ledo is surprised by this, while Oldham’s presumed children watch. It’s really great to see their reactions here:

The scene ends not long after that when Oldham recommends Ledo talk to Amy’s younger brother, Bebel. I have to say this is the best library scene I have seen in an animated show that shows a librarian to date. Before we move onto the next part of the episode, we get this great still image:

In fact, using this description, I had two fan fictions where libraries in Gargantia were a major part, the first where the protagonists visit the library and the second where the protagonist (after conducting an oral history) puts a warp pad in the library. So that was nice!

In the first OVA episode for Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (“Far Beyond the Voyage” part 1), we see another library on the ship where Dr. Oldham looks at records, lots of them gathered together!

This library appears to have data files and not books. It also appears that Bebel is acting as a library helper.

The library featured in the original series does not reappear in these episodes. However, the presence of Dr. Oldham, acting as a librarian is still interesting as these episodes further explore his character.

© 2020 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on my History Hermann blog but has been re-edited and fixed before being posted on this blog. Enjoy!


By Burkely Hermann

Burkely Hermann joined the National Security Archive as an Indexer and Metadata Librarian in March 2020, using his experience with arrangement, indexing, electronic databases, cataloging, metadata creation, and knowledge of history on a daily basis. In December 2019, he completed his Master of Library and Information Science, specializing in Archives and Digital Curation, at University of Maryland. In 2016, he received a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Political Science and a minor in History, from St. Mary's College of Maryland. He previously interned at the National Archives II facility in College Park and worked at the Maryland State Archives, Digital Curation and Innovation Center, and the Enoch Pratt Free Library. He is also a member of the Society of American Archivists. In his free time, he researches his family genealogy, serves as a judge for National History Day, which he participated in for several years, writes fictional works, and keeps up with changes in the library and archives fields. He currently runs seven WordPress blogs, primarily about his family history, or reviewing archives and libraries in pop culture.

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