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Fictional librarians and ideals of librarianship

Later on in her 2018 In the Library with the Lead Pipe article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves“, Fobazi Ettarh clarifies that she is challenging the “notion that many have taken as axiomatic that libraries are inherently good and democratic, and that librarians, by virtue of working in a library, are responsible for this ‘good’ work,” but is not dismissing the fact that librarians should take pride in their work. She says the former notion creates the expectation that when libraries fail, it is the “fault of individuals failing to live up to the ideals of the profession,” rather than the fact that libraries are fundamentally flawed institutions. Since today is the World Day Against Child Labour, it makes sense to publish this today.

There are certainly many librarians who are shown as passionate about their work, whether the old librarian in a She-Ra: Princess of Power episode (“Three Courageous Hearts”), the unnamed librarian in Sofia the First episode (“Forever Royal”?), the librarian in Sarah and Duck episode (“Lost Librarian”), Harold in Craig of the Creek, and even Swampy in Phineas and Ferb, to name a few. Arguably, the only series I can think of, apart from Moral Orel, which portrays libraries as institutions which are fundamentally flawed, is arguably The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends as Cletus Bookworm willingly sides with censorship and lets an armed vigilante take away the two protagonists without objecting. In fact, he agrees with them being taken away, declaring they are making too much noise. More on Cletus later on in this post, as what he does continues to be relevant.

This reminds me of an August 2006 episode of Totally Spies! In the beginning of the episode, Alex, Clover, and Sam are listening to music
together in the school library but are loud. They end up annoying other students, one of whom even shushes them. This doesn’t stop them from talking and they continue to do so, until they are whisked away.

Alex, Clover, and Sam recognize, as library patrons, the idea that libraries represent an “underused oasis”. It is a place provides access to information of a significant quality, a democratic space where people can read that they can’t read elsewhere. Some have argued that libraries can even given power to communities, dubbing it “information power”, which helps people learn more about their lives, and disseminate information to further struggle for “increasing social justice”. Others have said there is an importance of trust in libraries. [1]

Beyond this, there are lofty ideals hoisted upon librarians, whether that they should meet “vital needs” of librarians, be “information interpreters” by being advocates and active consultants of community groups. This includes librarians making libraries a space for gathering materials, future historical inquiries, and truth-seeking initiatives. [2] In some ways, the elderly White female librarian (voiced by Candi Milo) in the My Life as a Teenage Robot, embodies this, as she is shown working in bookmobile. She provides services to the neighborhood.

Students look at Alex, Clover, and Sam, annoyed they are making a lot of noise

The aforementioned librarian in Totally Spies! undoubtedly has middle-class values. Some have written that these values cause libraries to be out of their depth, led some to critique White middle-class librarianship in and of itself, or talked about librarians doing their duty. Additional articles focus on linear productivity nodes that “undergirds capitalist exchanges”, intersectuality, neoliberal university, multiculturalism, and a world in which inequalities are growing. [3]

Some of this is manifested in librarians in literature, some of whom internalize the stereotypical librarian, one of whom is a spinster, and others who go beyond the stereotypical mold. In some cases, this librarian image is positive with the fictional librarians helping ensure intellectual freedom for society. This differs from those prim, meek, and unassuming librarians with hair buns, portrayed to be suspicious, whether they are a positive or negative character. Take, for example, Mary Hatch (voiced by Donna Reed) in It’s a Wonderful Life, who was able to devote time to being a librarian and enforce “rules of silence” when not being married to George Bailey (voiced by Jimmy Stewart). Her life as a spinster librarian is shown to be less desirable than her life as a wife and mother in the real world. This contrasts with videos on YouTube created by librarians, with 68% having librarians as heroes, 23% as parody, and 14% as fun or positive. [4] Such videos provide a way for librarians to counter stereotypes of the profession.

At the same time, as fictional librarians embody the ideals of the profession, it should be recognized that stereotypical librarians never actually existed, en masse, in the library profession. They have become symbols, shorthands, whether they appear in comic books, comic strips, films, and novels. This includes well-known ones in Party Girl, Ghostbusters, Foul Play, Soylent Green, Citizen Kane, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. In the latter film is one of the most hilarious library scenes ever on film, as Indiana Jones is putting a hole in the floor of the library while the librarian is slamming his stamp down. Through the whole thing he remains unaware that Indiana is breaking through the floor! He thinks the stamp has something wrong with it. [5] While you could say this comes with it the stereotype that the librarian is outdated and old, the film is set in 1938/1939, so it makes sense he would be using a stamp at that time, as computers hadn’t even come into existence at that time. In fact, the first automatic digital computer was not created until 1941, named Z3, and created by the Germans, although the U.S. Navy had developed electromagnetic computers for submarines starting in 1938.

This film, unfortunately, has all sorts of Arab stereotypes. There’s “unsightly” Egyptian Christians, a pro-Nazi sheikh. This includes Egyptians in fezzes chasing Indy, some even trying to burn him alive. There is even a famous chase scene through Venice’s canals. Even worse are the pro-Nazi Arabs, Egyptian Christians made to look fanatical and are never humanized. For some reason, even though Indy and the Egyptian Christians are on the same side, and against the Nazis, this is not shown in the film. At the same time, a European Christian knight is guarding the Holy Grail like saint. Indy’s Egyptian friend, Sallah, is also patronized as a “dumbbell” although he warns Indy about the German tank out to get him. [6]

As op culture isn’t always kind to librarians,” noting a few librarians in TV and film. Glazer and many others have made lists of librarians, whether in science fiction, fantasy, or in various mediums, sometimes even noting librarian cameos, asked why librarians are portrayed as “mean” characters. [7] One person, Marie of Pop! Goes the Librarian even pointed to a spirit owl-librarian Wan Shi Tong (voiced by Héctor Elizondo) in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, as one such example. She declares that his ancient library is amazing, that fox spirits assist patrons locate information, serving as public services and acquisitions staff members. She goes onto say that while he the “worst example” of a librarian as he is spiteful, mean, territorial, and single-minded, having an innate distrust of humans, with his main concern being protection and collection of knowledge, making him like an archivist. She adds this means he may dislike rare materials from the library getting in the “wrong hands” and then in “anyone’s hands”.

Reviewing the episode “A New Spiritual Age” she notes that Tong is even more hostile to humans, including Jinora, the granddaughter of Aang, who she is able to offer new knowledge in exchange and stay in the library. This gets worse as he is in league with the enemy of Korra, her uncle Unalaq. She adds that the library of Wan Shi Tong and the library itself is an “incredible story”, calling him a fan-favorite character, as he wants nothing more “than to cultivate a mass of knowledge and keep it safe” with a thirst for knowledge which makes him “lower his guard twice” and when he does, his belief in the “folly of human-kind is reinforced.” She seems to defend his actions, saying that he may be mean, old, and evil, but also tired.

This differs from Sam Cross of Pop Archives. [8] She describes, like Marie, how Jinora gets into the library, noting she offers to explain how a radio works. While she gets in, it turns out that Wan sided with Unalaq, claiming that Unalaq, who wants to free the dark spirits, because he cares about spirits while “Korra has shown no such interest.” Cross argues that he is Wan is interesting because he is a “spirit of contradictions”, not wanting knowledge in his library being used for ill-purposes, but doesn’t attempt to provide context, doesn’t do his own follow-up or research. Instead, he claims he is neutral, in Cross’s words, but actually favors those who see “spirits as more valuable or important than humans.” He is, in the words of Cross, the smartest spirit ever”, and ends up being a spirit which is unnerving, yet familiar, able to provide “access to knowledge” and possibly bite your head off like “real archivists/librarians/curators” in her words.

Wan, alongside Unalaq, falsely claims that Unalaq is a “true friend” unlike Korra, standing in a hallway, while Jinora, in the foreground, stands her ground

I have a different take on Wan. While I understand what Marie and Cross are saying, he seems akin to the strict librarians I often talk about in this blog. He declares humans can no longer enter the library, he says that the last human stayed there to read, grew old and died. He sets down ground rules for Jinora, saying she can look around, but can’t break anything. Although a fox spirit helps her, she is later betrayed by him. When he sides with Unalaq it is just like the librarian Cletus Bookworm letting Rocky and Bullwinkle be taken out of his library at gunpoint. We as the audience know that Unalaq is bad news, but due to the fact that Wan has walled himself off from everything, he has no idea of Unalaq’s true nature. The fact that he lets her be kidnapped and taken away is wrong on so many levels. What Cross and Marie are saying has a sense of truth, but it also is not recognizing the severity of the situation and how Wan is condoning a crime! What he allows to happen leads to further trauma for Korra.

His character proves the point of Alison Nastasi: that the librarian is “one of the most misunderstood figures in pop culture history,” noting various “negative, unflattering, and downright laughable images of librarians” that have inundated our society. This is especially the case when it comes to stereotypical representations of female librarians in pop culture, which Christina Niegel argues are rooted in the “gendered history of the profession” and social norms producing expectations about “service work as an extension of the caring and organizing work of women.” Such stereotypes are emblematic of the difference between real-life librarians and those in fiction, a disparity “between reality and fantasy” as Darlynn Nemitz puts it. Fictional librarians convey a certain meaning, even in more positive depictions like Barbara Gordon a.k.a. Batgirl, who many find inspiring. [9] The same can even be said for the unnamed Black male librarian in All the President’s Men.

All these depictions have a real-life impact. Some have even argued that librarian stereotypes and perceptions may be holding back library instruction, while others related fictional librarians to real life information behaviors of patrons. Additional pieces noted stereotypes in young adult literature, said that some fictional librarians can be good sleuths, or pointed to other depictions of librarians in fantasy and sci-fi, to name a few genres. This fiction differs from reality. Characters like Sam’s mom in Totally Spies, may say that librarians are a “safe” career option, but the reality is very different. [10]

In Canada, the U.S., and elsewhere, there is a continued need to rely on precious work to maintain their workforces. This is coupled with maintaining systemic barriers to those with disabilities. How can someone enforce the much-exalted “core values” of the profession, if your job is precarious? [11] The answer is that you can’t. Some librarians in fiction are shown as equivalent to precarious, like those experiencing burnout. Most prominently, apart from the blue-skinned librarian in Prisoner Zero, is Kaisa in Hilda, who is shown as exhausted at one point. I can’t think of any librarian in fiction whose labor is contingent, is precarious, but hopefully that changes in the future. That’s my hope at least. Until the next post.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Duff, Gary. “Actor Jeffrey Wright on Growing Up In D.C., the 2016 Election & Starring in ‘The Public’“. Capitol File, Apr. 17, 2019; Yamauchi, Haruko. “Urban Information Specialists and Interpreters: An Emerging Radical Vision of Reference for the People, 1967-1973” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 28, 50; Forbes, Carrie and Jennifer Bowers, “Social Justice, Sentipensante Pedagog, and Collaboration: The Role of Research Consultations in Developing Critical Communities” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 270.

[2] Beilin, Ian. “Reference and Justice, Past and Present” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 19; Yamauchi, “Urban Information Specialists and Interpreters,” p. 33, 36, 39; Buenrosto, Iyra S. and Johann Frederick A. Cabbab, “Unbound: Recollections of Librarians During Martial Law in the Philippines” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 70-1.

[3] Yamauchi, “Urban Information Specialists and Interpreters,” 30-32, 44; Buenrosto and Cabbab, “Unbound,” 64; Adler, Kate. “Towards a Critical (Affective) Reference Practice: Emotional, Intellectual and Social Justice” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 110; Tewell, Eamon. “Beyond Efficient Answers with a Smile: Seeking Critical Reference Praxis” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 221-2; Forbes, “Social Justice, Sentipensante Pedagog, and Collaboration,” 262, 271.

[4] Allan, Adriane. “Librarians in Children’s and Teen Literature.” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture. Fall 2001. Accessed June 17, 2022; Allan, Adriane. “The Librarian with an Alterego Convention.” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture. November 2001. Accessed June 17, 2022; Attebury, Ramirose I. “Perceptions of a Profession: Librarians and Stereotypes in Online Videos.” Library Philosophy and Practice, October 2010. Accessed June 17, 2022.

[5] Bartel, Cheryl. “Past and Future Images vs. Current Actuality.” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture. Fall 2001. Accessed June 17, 2022; Berguson, Stephen M. “Librarians in Comics: Sources — Comic Books.” Libraries FAQ. n.d. [2002?] Accessed June 17, 2022; Berguson, Stephen M. “Librarians in Comics: Sources — Comic Strips.” Libraries FAQ. August 17, 2002. Accessed June 17, 2022; Firment, Erica. “Desk Set” [Review]. Librarian Avengers. November 11, 2006. Accessed June 17, 2022; French, Emily. “Best librarian characters in fantasy fiction.” OUP Blog. July 17, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2022; Gachman, Diana. “13 Of The Best Library Scenes In Movies.” Bustle, September 8, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2022.

[6] Shaheen, Jack G. Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (New York: Olive Branch Press, 2001), 253-4.

[7] Glazer, Glen. “Our Favorite Fictional Librarians, Ranked.” New York Public Library. April 14, 2017. Accessed June 17, 2022; Gunn, James. “Libraries in Science Fiction.” Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction. n.d. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marcia, Maria J. “Images of Librarians in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Including an Annotated List.” Research Report. Eastern Kentucky University, June 1998; Marie. “Bunny Watson – Pop! Profile,” Pop Goes the Librarian. March 11, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Evelyn Carnahan – Pop! Profile,” Pop Goes the Librarian. July 18, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “It’s a Wonderful Life: How Mary Lost Her Groove,” Pop Goes the Librarian. December 20, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Marian the Librarian – Pop! Profile,” Pop Goes the Librarian. June 7, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “On Crones, Meanies and Sex Kittens,” Pop Goes the Librarian. October 15, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Rupert Giles – Pop! Profile,” Pop Goes the Librarian. June 20, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Summer Movies Mean… Librarian Cameos?,” Pop Goes the Librarian. July 2, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “The Judgmental Ostrich: When book-pushers become meme fodder,” Pop Goes the Librarian. January 10, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Visual Cues: What Makes a Librarian?,” Pop Goes the Librarian. January 22, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “vs. the Evil Librarians,” Pop Goes the Librarian. October 8, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Who/what/why am I?,” Pop Goes the Librarian. June 2, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Why Are Librarians So Mean?,” Pop Goes the Librarian. October 26, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Wan Shi Tong – Pop! Profile,” Pop Goes the Librarian. December 5, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “‘Wonderfully Unhinged’ Librarian,” Pop Goes the Librarian. January 28, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Worse Than Murder,” Pop Goes the Librarian. July 11, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “‘You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!’,” Pop Goes the Librarian. June 26, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Marie. “Zombie Librarian,” Pop Goes the Librarian. June 13, 2012. Accessed June 17, 2022.

[8] Cross, Samantha. “Archivist Spotlight: Wan Shi Tong.” Pop Archives, April 12, 2019.

[9] Nastasi, Alison. “Our Favorite Pop Culture Librarians.” FlavorWire. November 9, 2013. Accessed June 17, 2022; Neigel, Christina. “Loveless Frumps, Old Maids, and Diabolical Deviants: Representations of Gender and Librarianship in Popular Culture.” Ed. D., Simon Fraser University, 2018; Nemitz, DarLynn. “Image of Librarians and Libraries in Popular Literature.” Fall 2001. Accessed June 17, 2022; Nemitz, DarLynn. “Library Cards: The Reflected Image of Libraries.” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture. Fall 2001. Accessed June 17, 2022;Scarlet, Janina. “The Psychology of Inspirational Women: Batgirl.” The Mary Sue. August 6, 2015. Accessed June 17, 2022; O’Neal, Jeff. “16 Great Library Scenes in Film.” Book Riot. July 26, 2020. Accessed June 17, 2022. Also see Oberhelman, David D. “A Brief History of Libraries in Middle-Earth: Manuscript and Book Repositories in Tolkien’s Legendarium.” In Truths Breathed Through Silver:  The Inklings’ Moral and Mythopoeic Legacy, edited by Jonathan B. Himes, 81–92. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

[10] Pagowsky, Nicole, and Erica DeFrain. “Ice Ice Baby: Are Librarian Stereotypes Freezing Us out of Instruction?In the Library with the Lead Pipe, July 3, 2014. Accessed June 17, 2022; Pierce, Jennifer B. “What’s Harry Potter doing in the library? Depiction of young adult information seeking behavior in contemporary fantasy fiction.” Iowa Research Online, June 1, 2004. Accessed June 17, 2022; Peresis, Michalle and Linda B. Alexander. “Librarian stereotypes in Young Adult literature.” Young Adult Library Services, 4, no. 1 (2005): 24-31; Reiman, Lauren. “Solving the Mystery: What Makes the Fictional Librarian Such a Good Sleuth?” Honors Thesis, Washington State University, 2003; “Representations of Libraries and Librarians in Popular Culture, Particularly Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Sci-Fi Librarian. February 27, 2016. Accessed June 17, 2022. Also see: Sweeney, Miriam A. “Not Just a Pretty Inter(face): A Critical Analysis of Microsoft’s ‘Ms. Dewey.’” Doctors Thesis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2013. In the episode “Totally Busted!” [Part 1], Sam’s mother says being a librarian is a safer career option than being an international spy. She also says being a foot doctor is safer.

[11] Henninger, Ean. “Precarious Library Employment as a Professional Barrier.” British Columbia Library Association, accessed June 17, 2022; Moeller, Christine. “Disability, Identity, and Professionalism: Precarity in Librarianship.” Library Trends, Vol. 67, Number 3, Winter 2019, 455-470; “Core Values of Librarianship.” American Library Association, accessed June 17, 2022. Also see “Labor and Precarity Syllabus“.

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Fictional librarians and the importance of storytime

Millie, the librarian in an episode of Madagascar: A Little Wild

Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! For this post I’ll be focusing on fictional librarians and the importance of storytime.

Storytime is a vital program at many libraries, specifically public libraries. As Tom Bruno writes, storytime is “a great free form of entertainment for parents looking for activities for their children…[and] can provide a bonanza of cognitive benefits,” serving as the “heart and soul of the library…[and] showcases the depth and breadth of your local public library’s commitment to your community with respect to early literacy and child development.”

More than any other character, this is evident for Amity Blight in The Owl House. First shown working in the children’s section of the Bonesborough Library in the episode “Lost in Language”, in a flashback in the episode “Understanding Willow” and most recently in the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins”, Amity understands what Bruno is saying to some extent. Whether she knows about the cognitive benefits of reading to children or enjoys it, the fact is that she is comfortable with this activity, even if she ends up getting embarrassed when seeing her-later girlfriend, Luz Noceda.

Amity, who is voiced by the talented Mae Whitman, also has the distinction of being a student, a lesbian,and wears her hair up, but not in a hair bun like some librarians are shown stereotypically to do. Instead, she wears a pony tail. Her look somewhat resembles those who work in religious libraries as I noted in a post this past November. All in all she displays the importance of the library as a welcoming place for all and reading itself, as I’ve pointed out.

More to the point than Amity is Millie, a librarian voiced by Johanna Stein. More than 15 minutes into the Madagascar: A Little Wild episode “Melman at the Movies”, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, and Gloria the Hippo go inside the library to the pop-up books section, where they enjoy the pop-up books. Later, Melman the Giraffe finally joins his friends inside, after it starts raining. Melvin finds a book with the ending to the film, but none of them know how to read.

Following this, the librarian, Millie, announces that storytime starts in 15 minutes in the reading room. They have a plan to replace the book she is going to read with another one so they can know the end to the story, using the slide ladder in hopes  of getting behind the librarian’s desk to change the book before she returns.

After that, one of the elderly patrons thinks he hears something, then goes back to reading his book. Melvin tries a distraction but it doesn’t work and they are unable to pull off the book swap. But, Melman is happy nonetheless and sings a song. His actions cause the book to drop from the shelf, with the librarian shrugging as storytime begins. They are pleased with hearing the end of the book which they had looked forward to in the first place.

Through it all, Millie, who is shown shushing after she hears a loud sound, i.e. Melman’s “distraction”, is pretty chill. When a book falls from the top of a book case and on the information desk, a strange occurrence, she shrugs her shoulders and takes it in her hand, preparing to read that book rather than another one instead.

Her character has to be the most realistic depiction of a librarian doing storytime that I’ve seen to date. Perhaps there is another fictional librarian out there, apart from Amity, who could do it better, but I’m not sure who. None of the librarians I’ve covered extensively on this blog, like Clara Rhone in Welcome to the Wayne or Kaisa in Hilda are ever shown reading books to children. Neither is Myne/Main in Ascendance of a Bookworm, George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and the unnamed presumably Thai librarian in We Bare Bears, to name a few, do this either. Perhaps it isn’t in their job descriptions.

In any case, storytime is described by libraries across the U.S. as important for developing “early literacy skills” of children, makes learning fun, teaches children to read, and helps build child development, ensuring “strong, resilient families.” [1] Again, it is not known whether Millie or Amity is aware of this. Even so, they likely realize its importance and enjoy reading stories to kids.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] “Storytime at the Library.” Cincinnati Public Library. Accessed June 11, 2022; “Storytime.” Austin Public Library. Accessed June 11, 2022; “Storytime.” Douglas County Libraries. Accessed June 11, 2022; “Storytimes.” Olathe Public Library. Accessed June 11, 2022; “Story Time & Resources.” Town of Vail Public Library. Accessed June 11, 2022; “Storytimes.” Flagstaff City Coconino County Public Library. Mar. 30, 2022; “Transforming Library Storytimes for Children with Sensory Integration Challenges.” Urban Libraries Council. Accessed June 11, 2022.

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Vocational awe and fictional depictions of librarians

Some time ago, I came across tweets by Fobazi Ettarh expressing her disappointment that people defended a White female librarian who called a Black woman a racist term, then doubled down on her tweet. From there, I followed the links and came upon her 2018 In the Library with the Lead Pipe article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves.” I had read it before, but I decided to give it a read again and thought as to how this could be applied to what I’ve written about on this blog in the past. Originally I was planning to put every point she made in the article into one blogpost, but that seemed to be squeezing too many ideas into one place, so I split off many of her points into specific blogposts, to fully explore what she says and to explain more how can relate to fictional depictions of librarians.

Ettarh began her article noting librarians “administering the anti-overdose drug Naloxon,” saying that while this seems natural at first, with these librarians working to “save the democratic values of society as well as going above and beyond to serve the needs of their neighbors and communities,” the rhetoric around this “borders on vocational and sacred language” instead of “acknowledging that librarianship is a profession or a discipline, and as an institution, historically and contemporarily flawed, we do ourselves a disservice.” She goes on to define “vocational awe” as a “set of ideas, values, and assumptions librarians have about themselves and the profession that result in beliefs that libraries as institutions are inherently good and sacred, and therefore beyond critique.” [1]

There are undoubtedly fictional librarians believe that institutions are seen as “good and sacred,” and “beyond critique,” especially since these characters are almost universally created by those who haven’t been librarians, have worked in libraries, have library degrees, and so on. As such, their views of libraries are informed by popular perceptions. As such, some characters clearly see librarianship as a vocation or a calling, based on the Christian tradition of calling requiring a “monastic life under vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience” as Ettarh points out.

One of those characters is Myne in Ascendance of a Bookworm who works in a church library, which she had been excited to be a part of. Unfortunately, in Part 3 of the series, she is not shown in the library. Instead, she is only shown being denied from the library and becomes subservient to authority, which is sad to see for her character.

This different from previous parts of the series, in which she undoubtedly sees her role as a librarian as one of obedience. Through all of the series, her role as a librarian becomes interconnected with her role as a gray-robed priest. This related to what Ettarh adds about  vocation within librarianship. She argues that she has “allusions to religiosity and the sacred” and states that libraries created with the “same architectural design as churches in order to elicit religious awe.” She goes onto say that awe is a overwhelming and fearful feelings rather than a comforting one, meant to elicit “obedience from people in the presence of something bigger than themselves.”

This differs from O’Bengh, also known as Cagliostro, in an episode of What If…?. He is a sorcerer who works in a library, which looks exactly like a temple. He is a manifestation of librarians as priests. Sometimes it isn’t as explicit as his character. As I noted in the aforementioned post, O’Bengh falls into the librarian as an information provider stereotype. The fact the library is a temple, this, as I noted in that post, furthers the perception that libraries, and by extension librarians, are sacred. In many ways, he acts like a monk inside of a monastery who never leaves the monastery, as he never appears in any other episodes.

Ettarh goes onto argues that vocational awe manifests itself in “response to the library as both a place and an institution,” with library workers easily paralyzed by the “sacred duties of freedom, information, and service.” As a result of these “grand missions,” advocating for a full lunch break or taking a mental health day “feels shameful.” This awe is “weaponized against the worker,” meaning that there can be vocational purity test of sorts in which a worker “can be accused of not being devout or passionate enough to serve without complaint.”

Shown at 45:29 in this film. She comes back for a scene at 47:24 where she is shelving books

In some ways this is weaponized against librarians. Take for instance Gabrielle (voiced by Victoire Du Bois) in I Lost My Body. She has an annoying supervisor who fits many librarian stereotypes and attempts to stop Gabrielle from talking to Naoufel (voiced by Hakim Faris), the show’s other protagonist, who is checking out books. While she is shown to be hard at work shelving books elsewhere in this mature film, she also is enforcing library rules and expectations all at the same time, with Gabrielle dubbing her “Mrs. Watchtower”. Since the library scene is so short and we see the movie mainly from Naoufel’s perspective, we don’t know the motivations of this annoying supervisor, who doesn’t even have a voice actor, and fellow librarian.

The same can be said about Amity Blight (voice by Mae Whitman) in The Owl House. In the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins”, her boss, Malphas (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) fires her after she is found in a forbidden section of the library. Although she isn’t supposed to be there, she is trying to help Luz Noceda (voiced by Sarah Nicole-Robles), who later becomes her girlfriend, find a book about a previous human traveler to this magical world. She accepts the consequences but Luz gets Amity’s library card back after going through a series of trials. Not surprisingly, Amity is grateful and kisses Luz on the cheek.

Ettarh writes that librarianship by its very nature privileges those within the status quo. She goes onto see that those outside of the center of librarianship can see more clearly, for the most part, disparities between reality of library work and “espouse values.” She goes onto say that vocational awe refuses to acknowledge libraries as flawed institutions, meaning that when marginalized librarians, including people of color, speak out, their accounts are “often discounted or erased.” She adds that vocational awe ties the twin phenomenon of undercompensation and job creep, when employees are pressured to “deliver more than the normal requirements of their jobs” which is gradually increased by the employer, within librarianship due to workplaces that are self-sacrificing and service-oriented.

This results in, as Ettarh puts it, librarians becoming self-selected. It leads to expectations that entry-level library jobs need usually voluntary experience within a library, coupled with “class barriers built into the profession.” What this means that those who have financial instability and cannot work for free have to take out loans or switch careers entirely. Furthermore, those librarians with family responsibilities cannot “work long nights and weekends” and librarians with disabilities can’t make librarianship a “whole-self career.”

In animation this is shown in terms of oft-stereotype of White female librarians who are elderly spinsters. It is implied that such librarians, who are often strict, have experience in library school, degrees, and have been in the library for ages. It is further indicated that even if one moves beyond White librarians in animation, I can’t think of one librarian who is physically disabled, which Ettarh seems to be talking about in her article. Many of the librarians may be mentally disabled though, through their demeanor and actions. Often they are characters for only one episode, so there isn’t enough of a focus on them to know who they are as actual people. That is the nature of current depictions

Back to Ettarh, she further says that having an “emotional attachment” to your work is often valued, and says that while it isn’t a negative, vocational awe is endemic and “connected to so many aspects of librarianship.” She goes onto say that the problem with this is that efficacy of a person’s work is tied to their amount or lack of passion rather than “fulfillment of core job duties”. She adds that if being a good librarian is “directly tied to struggle, sacrifice, and obedience,” then the more one struggles in their work, their institution / work becomes “holier”. This means that people are less likely to “feel empowered…[or] to fight for a healthier workspace.” [2]

Poor Kaisa, she just wants to finish her library tasks of re-shelving books, but Hilda has to be persistent.

Perhaps this is what Kaisa, the ever popular librarian in Hilda feels as she feels exhausted in one episode. More than that, she is experiencing burnout. As I wrote in that post, Kaisa exhibits many of the characteristics of burnout, or what some call librarian fatigue. However, it is hard to know whether her workload is sustainable, if she has a lack of personal control over her workplace, if is insufficiently compensated or recognized, or has a lack of social support, which often leads to burnout. As I put it in that post, librarian burnout/fatigue is something which librarians need to discuss more openly and it should be shown more directly in fictional depictions.

As a reminder, burnout, as noted in that article, means a “syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do ‘people work’ of some kind”. It is caused by factors such as an “unsustainable workload, role conflict…lack of personal control at work, insufficient recognition…lack of social support, a sense of unfairness, and personal values…at odds with the organization’s values.” This is connected with feelings of detachment and cynicism, a lack of accomplishment, sense of ineffectiveness, and overwhelming exhaustion, with physical symptoms including hypertension, muscle tension, headaches, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, and more.

I end with words from Ettarh. She writes that libraries are only buildings and that people inside, the librarians, do the work, who need to be treated well. She adds that “you can’t eat on passion. You can’t pay rent on passion. Passion, devotion, and awe are not sustainable sources of income.” She goes onto say that while libraries may have a purpose to serve,but is that purpose so high and mighty when it “fails to serve those who work within its walls every day”. She concludes by saying “we need to continue asking these questions…and stop using vocational awe as the only way to be a librarian.” That is something I have to agree with wholeheartedly.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] She also says that the article tries to “dismantle the idea that librarianship is a sacred calling…describe[s] the institutional mythologies surrounding libraries and librarians…dismantle[s] these mythologies by demonstrating the role libraries play in institutional oppression….[and] discuss[es] how vocational awe disenfranchises librarians and librarianship” in hopes that librarianship can “hopefully evolve into a field that supports and advocates for the people who work in libraries as much as it does for physical buildings and resources.”

[2] Ettarh defines a healthy workplace as “one where working around the clock is not seen as a requirement, and where one is sufficiently compensated for the work done” and says it is not a workplace where “the worker [is] taken for granted as a cog in the machinery.”

action adventure animation Black people Chinese people comedy comic books fantasy Fiction genres horror Librarians Libraries music mystery Pop culture mediums public libraries science fiction slice-of-life speculative fiction supernatural Thai people Vietnamese people

Honoring six fictional librarians of Asian descent

Three APALA librarians
From left to right, Lessa Pelayo-Lozada (executive director of APALA, the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association), Candice Mack (previous APALA president), and Ray Pun (current APALA president). Images are from the and are used in accordance with fair use exception in U.S. copyright law. This is meant to illustrate real-life Asian librarians.

This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To honor that, I’m focusing on six librarians of Asian descent which I’ve come across when watching animation since I began this blog, excluding the over 50 Japanese fictional librarians I’ve listed on this blog in the past. With that, let me get started!

There are four librarians who are arguably from Southeast Asia. One of the earliest I came across is an unnamed librarian in an episode of We Bare Bears aptly named “The Library”. Although it is not directly stated, she is a woman of Thai descent since Ashly Burch, who is presumably her voice actor, is half-Thai, with her mother from Thailand and her father from the U.S., making her multiracial. However, in an interview for The Nerds of Color she told them “I was used to relating to characters that were either white or other types of Asian,” adding “I’ve never gotten to play a Thai character” before voicing Molly McGee, the protagonist of The Ghost and Molly McGee.

So perhaps the librarian was not directly Thai, but portrayed as just in the “other types of Asian” category? No matter, because she is still a librarian of color regardless, with the fandom page for the episode identifying her as Thai, confirming what I’ve stated before. [1] In the episode, this librarian is frustrated with the protagonists, goes on break, and seems harsh at first, wanting them to pay their late fee. She later appears to be overwhelmed and suffering from burnout. In the end, she ends up helping them and seems to let them sleep in the library overnight. The latter is unique because usually that would never be allowed. But, perhaps she saw them working so steadily that she let them stay there and rest in peace. It’s hard to know.

It is worth pointing out, for reference, there are several levels of education for librarianship in Thailand and there’s library organizations like the Thai Library Association. The group describes libraries as a “driving force of society” for knowledge and learning. It also has a code of ethics which prioritizes user convenience, professional ethics, being strong social leaders, and more. None of this would apply to the aforementioned librarian, as We Bare Bears is set in the San Francisco Bay Area and more particularly in San Francisco itself. At first I thought she would, as such, be working at the San Francisco Public Library. Looking at the image shown of the library at the beginning of the episode, I looked at images of one of the many branches within the library system itself. None of them seemed to align with the image.

The Glesson Library seemed like a good guess, from the images I saw, and it didn’t look like the Prelinger Library either. It made me think a little about the J. Paul Leonard and Sutro Library, as the image looked a little similar, but that didn’t seem right either. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what library this is! It isn’t the Mission Bay FAMRI Library, Parnassus Campus Library, or ZSFG Library. Although Chloe goes to the University of California, it would make sense it is at a UC library.

According to World Cat, one edition of the Fourth Edition of Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry is available at UCSD Library in San Diego at Stanford University Libraries, and another at Southern Regional Library Facility in L.A., and Langston Library in Irvine, California. Another version is available at UCSB Library in Santa Barbara, California. None of those are near San Francisco, or in the Bay Area, though. Digging into Chloe’s fandom page it states that “her college is most likely based off of UC Berkeley” but also states that another possibility for her college is “based on is California State University of Los Angeles.” Although I think the creators may have based the library on real life, I also think it could have just been created by the animators to look that way and not connected to a real location.

Coming back to the characters, the aforementioned librarian contrasts with the Flippy in the Happy Tree Friends episode “Random Acts of Silence“. Voiced by Kenn Navarro, a Filipino actor, he is one unique librarian, to say the least. At first, he stamps books, shushes people, takes a chair away from a patron, and sharpens a pencil from another. He soon becomes annoyed when a patron is making a lot of noise and the amount of noise gets to him. It makes him so angry he begins murdering patrons in the most cruel ways possible whether by using pencils through the eyes, with a pencil sharpener, with paper, a sword. Yikes! Through all of this, he still checks out a book to a patron and shushes the viewer at the end.

This is also different from Wong, a man from Hong Kong, voiced by Benedict Wong, in an episode of What If…? entitled “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” Sometimes Hong Kong is considered part of Southeast Asia, even though officially it is part of the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China. In any case, in the episode Wong helps Dr. Strange with his magical powers and fight to save the world from another version of himself. He is a librarian by association with the live-action films where he is shown as a librarian, although he isn’t directly a librarian in the episode.

first mention of Karma as a librarian in Mekanix
Narrator mentions, on issue 1 (possibly page 13), that Karma (with the silver hair) is a librarian and seemingly in love with Kitty (other woman in image)

Then, there’s Karma in Mekanix, who is a Vietnamese woman and is also a lesbian Mekanix is a six issue comic book limited series published from 2002 to 2003, which Chris Claremont wrote, Juan Bobillo pencilled and Marcelo Sosa inked. In the first issue it is noted she is a librarian who has the power to possess people and is also named Shan. Later issues introduce Katherine “Kitty” Pryde, former member of the X-Men, who has a shrink. It also turns out that Shan is a mutant as well and may be in love with Kitty, who is proud to be a mutant and a Jew. Kitty is also known as “Shadowcat.”

Sadly, the police suspect her of causing an explosion and turn her apartment upside down, even though she did nothing wrong, and she is at odds with Nazis known as “Purity” who are anti-mutant. It turns out that someone helped hack into the network and caused the explosion, while Kitty is on the run from terrorists out to kill her. Unfortunately, Shan is never shown as a librarian, just as an aspiring one in this comic, with hair that looks blue in a certain light.

She is shown as a badass with two kids and fighting robots with Kitty, though, who fights racists like no one’s business. However, according to her Wikipedia page, she worked as librarian for the University of Chicago as a student, as indicated in Mekanix, and later, in New Mutants  working as a librarian and French teacher.

In the latter, which is Vol. 2 of the collected edition, issues 4-7, where she is called Xi’an Coy Manh, and has a different appearance. In issue 4, she graduates from University of Chicago. She then later works as a librarian, shown behind the information desk, and helps some fellow students, even looking out a book for one, but he leaves before she can get the book. She later stands up for a fellow student who is a mutant.

Then, in issue 5, she looks at books at the Xavier Institute, and talks to Professor Xavier, and investigates into anti-Mutant groups. In later issues, she continues to fight those groups, and it indicates she is a teacher, specifically at the Xavier Institute.

Last but not least is Mira (voiced by Leela Ladnier), and her father, Sahil (voiced by Aasif Mandvi), in Mira, Royal Detective, which is set in 19th-century India, mostly taking place in the city of Jalpur. In the episode “The Case of the Missing Library Book”, Mira brings a mobile library to town. She even sings a song about it in the same episode and they (she and Sahil) do some library duties, and go on the case of finding a missing library book.

Later, in the episode “The Case of the Lost Puppy”; Mikku and Chikku help Mira return books to the mobile library.  Then, in “Mystery At The Sweet Sale“; Mira and others participate in a bake sale to raise money for the mobile library, so they can buy more materials. In this case, the more sweets they sell, more ability to fill empty shelves of the library, which is a good deal, if I ever heard one!

Shan at information desk in New Mutants
Shan at information desk in New Mutants

That’s all for this week. Until next week!

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] The same page claims there is an elderly librarian in the episode. I’m not sure about that only because I’m not sure if the elderly woman is supposed to be a librarian or if she is just a helpful elderly patron. Interestingly, the Black librarian shown in episode 1 is shown sitting at a table with two other presumed librarians (a Black man with glasses and a White man), at one point, which I noticed on a rewatch, which I never noticed before, and then a second time.

action adventure animated animation anime Black people fantasy Fiction genres French people horror Librarians Libraries live-action magic libraries Movies Pop culture mediums public libraries speculative fiction Thai people White people

Celebrating fictional library workers

Happy May Day! Today is also known as Labour/Labor Day and International Workers’ Day, celebrating working classes and laborers, which is promoted by the international labor movement. It is celebrated every year. In her 2018 In the Library with the Lead Pipe article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” Fobazi Ettarh stated that a lack of compensation for library work is nothing new, with underemployment issues as a continued source for unhappiness. Librarians continue to be paid hourly and isn’t a primary job for everyone, while the institution gains reduced price or free labor with the enforcement of awe through its “dramatic and heroic narratives.” Interconnected to this is the mythologies of vocational awe which reinforces “themes of sacrifice and struggle,” while librarianship sustained itself through labor of librarians who reap only the “immaterial benefits” of having done supposedly “good work.”

This interconnects to fictional librarians. In this article I’ll focus on librarians who presumably get a wage, rather than student librarians which I wrote about earlier this month, or salary. [1] These librarians include Kaisa in Hilda, Isomura in Let’s Make a Mug Too, Lydia Lovely in Horrid Henry, and Ms. Herrera in Archie’s Weird Mysteries. There’s also unnamed librarians in We Bare Bears, Gabriel DropOut, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, and Cardcaptor Sakura, to name a few who work in public or school libraries. All of those and more will be reviewed in this article.

Kaisa is a supporting character in Hilda and she works at the Trolberg Library. Although she is never shown getting a paycheck, there is no doubt that she is receiving some wages or salary. However, it is implied that she may be overworked and may be experiencing burnout. She often has to deal with annoying patrons, like Hilda herself. Even so, she is still helpful to patrons like Hilda and her friends. She is even a person who would stand up to her bosses, as she would have done in standing against them in a scene which never made it in Hilda and the Mountain King. Otherwise, she seems relatively content with her job, at least as her scenes in the show indicate, although the times we see her is relatively limited, so its hard to know for sure.

Since the show is set in an alternate version of Scandinavia, we can say she would earn an average salary of approximately 9,936 Euros or about $17,843 U.S. Dollars. [2] However, if we chose largest amount, she would earn about $42,274 U.S. Dollars a year, and around $3,386 U.S. Dollars a year at the minimum. Compared to those classified as Librarians and Library Media Specialists by the BLS, the average salary of $61,190 U.S. Dollars a year. Her salary is closer to those classified as Librarian Technicians and Assistants by the BLS which earn an average salary of $34,050 U.S. Dollars a year. Hopefully Trolberg has enough money to pay her, so I’m going to hope that she earns the equivalent of $37,000 a year, which means she would earn about $17.78 dollars an hour, assuming a 2,080 hour work year. That may be far too optimistic, but I’m really hoping here.

That brings me to Isomura in Let’s Make a Mug Too. She is a librarian and curator of local ceramics museum in the town of Tajimi. Since she has both jobs, she doesn’t devote all of her time to the library. However, she is from the city hall and is apparently a new hire. Now, librarians in Japan have an average salary of $5,882,809 Japanese Yen, the equivalent of $44,355 U.S. Dollars or $295,721.24 Chinese Yuan Renminbi. As for curators, they earn a bit more, $6,717,387 Japanese Yen. [3] That is equivalent of $337,578.57 Chinese Yuan Renminbi or $50,647 U.S. Dollars. If we average the two together, assuming she has a librarian-curator position, she would be earning an equivalent of $47,501 U.S. Dollars a year. If we use the same amount of hours per year I mentioned earlier, then she would earn about $23 dollars an hour! That’s pretty good for an amount of money to earn in a year.

The curator talking to the show's protagonist about pottery in Let's Make a Mug Here
The curator talking to the show’s protagonist about pottery

More broadly, the library that Isomura works in is one of the thousands of libraries in Japan. Some of those are listed on the “List of libraries in Japan” page. A small number of these libraries are “beautifully designed” and I’d guess that some of them are like temples, as some are said to be designed by so-called “master architects.” Libraries in Japan have evolved from being a study room and place for limited use to a place with attitudes about guarding the “people’s right to know” and ensuring equal and free access to information for everyone. Furthermore, librarians in Japan said to be “very passionate” about including “all areas of thought” in their daily discourse and collections, since library collections in World War II were heavily censored. [4]

There are many librarians in Japan who work at public libraries. Take, or example, the unnamed librarians Cardcaptor Sakura. The latter show has librarians shelving books and searching for items on their computers, helping the protagonists. They seem respected by those in the library itself. Unfortunately, looking at the listing on IMDB, it does not appear that the four, or even more, librarians in the episode are uncredited, unless they are listed as a character. The same can be said about the two unnamed librarians who appear briefly in the first episode Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, “My Senpai is a Bunny Girl”. Both work at Fujisawa Library, a public library.

Similarly, consider the librarian in Gabriel DropOut. She has a more direct role. In the episode “Fun Forever After…”, an unnamed female librarian helps Tapris, who stumbles at first when getting into the library and struggles to get on the internet. She doesn’t even know what a mouse is, and even touches the screen when its not a touch screen. The librarian helps her, guiding her to books on computers and programming, leading Tapris to read books about them. Again, unfortunately, the librarian is not credited.

This differs from the unnamed librarian in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform. She works at an all-girls private school, Roubai Girls’ Academy. In one episode, “There’s No School Tomorrow, Right?”, she shushes protagonists Akebi and Erika after they excitedly talk to one another. After the librarian shushes them so they express themselves non-verbally and remain excited to hang out that upcoming Saturday, the following day, together. Like other school librarians, she likely takes training courses and work to make sure the services of the school library meets the needs of the school. [5]

This contrasts with Lydia Lovely in Horrid Henry, a children’s animated series set in the United Kingdom. She works as a school librarian during the series but is generally disrespected by the show’s protagonist. Putting aside that a White woman voices her, even though she is a Black woman, as I’ve talked about how this is problematic in the past, lets consider an average salary. In the UK a librarian earns about £23,019 British Pounds a year, and £10.14 British Pounds an hour. [6] That’s the equivalent of about $28,788 U.S. Dollars a year, or about $13 USD an hour. That is relatively low compared to what I’ve mentioned before. I’ll get to librarians in the U.S. later.

Henry's teachers, with Lovely on the right
Henry’s teachers, with Lovely on the right

The diversity of UK librarians is even worse than in the U.S.: 97% of librarians identify as White! Compare that to the U.S. where 87% identify as White according to recent information. As such, Lydia Lovely is in the minority in terms of Black librarians in the UK. I don’t know whether there are Black librarian groups there like there are in the U.S., but I sure hope so, because they really need more diversity in their ranks of librarians, without a doubt.

They aren’t the only librarians in the UK which I’ve found in my watching of animated series. There’s the unnamed librarian in Sarah and Duck, a non-human librarian. Appearing in the episode “Lost Librarian” and voiced by Tom Britton, this librarian works at what appears to be working at the public library. Sarah and Duck who had gone to the library to learn about a periscope, help him after he loses his paper catalog . He eventually gets back the paper catalog, even as he shushes the duck at a later point. The one thing that is strange is that he has a paper catalog and there is no back-up. Strange and supports the idea of stereotypes of librarians and libraries as antiquated.

This profoundly contrasts with the librarian in Totally Spies who may be voiced by Janice Kawaye, a voice actor of Japanese descent, as I’ve written before, most recently in March 2022. She works at the Liverpool Library, based off the Liverpool Central Library as I noted in my post on April 18. It is the largest of the libraries in Liverpool. If she continued to work there, even as a buff librarian, with some spinster qualities, she would be in a building with “Wi-Fi access throughout the building with 150 computers” according to the library’s official website. The library also has 15,000 rare books,  a local studies collection which provides the “rich and fascinating history of Liverpool“. Furthermore, in connection to what the librarian does in the episode, they charge for late returned items. This is something being phased out in many libraries, although Liverpool Central Library isn’t one of them.

That brings me to Gabrielle in I Lost My Body. In the mature animated film, set in France, this librarian, voiced by Victoire Du Bois, she is a young woman who becomes friends with the protagonist after he, a pizza delivery person, delivers a pizza to her. She asks if he is ok, says he should change jobs, and they talk through the intercom while there is a hard rain outside the apartment building. She tells him she works in a library. It is later revealed, she delivers medicine to a man named Gigi. That she works at the Guy de Maussurant Library, possible referring to Guy De Maupassant, who is a great French writer of short stories. As a librarian there, checks out books for him there, helps him, tells him to bring them back in four weeks. Through it all she has an annoying unnamed library supervisor, while acting thoughtful, elusive, and hip from time to time. She rides a motorcycle, like Rin Shima in Laid-Back Camp, and is unique in that way.

Currently, the average salary of librarians in France is €47,292 Euros. That is the equivalent of about $50,534 USD per year, or $24.2 per hour, assuming the same 2,080 hour work year I mentioned earlier. It is worth noting that there are over 16,000 “public reading spaces” in France, but only 17% of the population are registered library users, due to limited hours open, remoteness, and continued stereotypes. At the same time, libraries of American Committee for Devastated France, otherwise known as CARD, containing librarians from the U.S., served as the foundation of modern libraries in France. There are also various professional organizations for librarians in the country. [7]

For Gabrielle, her job is probably pretty secure, even recommending The World According to Garp when he brings back another book. She probably doesn’t he has a second job seems to imply that her librarian job may not be paying her enough to stay afloat. However, if a second job is emblematic of the librarian field in France, one might say it means there is precarity at play. As put it in American Libraries, “precarity within and outside of libraries is tied to larger structural forces.” If this is the case for Gabrielle, it could mean, on the one hand, that her job is not as secure and a symptom of larger trends. After all, it seems to be the case in France, at least to some extent, especially for those in the gig economy. [8]

Bookworm supports oppression against Rocky and Bullwinkle

That brings me to Cletus Bookworm in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends. He is a librarian in the small town of Frostbite Falls, Minnesota. Considering he is in the U.S., and in small town, what Jessi Baker, a small-town librarian said, is relevant here, that such librarians “often follow a different set of professional norms” since what may be considered “professional behavior in a larger area could be considered impersonal behavior by a small-town patron.” There is even an Association for Small and Rural Libraries. Other librarians also pedal around books and deliver them across the town. [9]

In the case of Bookworm, he appears to be respected enough to stay in his position even though he is complicit in kidnapping of his own patrons. Although this matters little to him, as all he wants in the library, similar to the general librarian stereotype of shushing librarians. is order in the library by any means necessary. He is very different from other librarians, like Archie the Archivist in Regular Show, which is set in an indeterminate location, who helps the protagonists, and is also the guardian of special laser discs, for some reason.

That brings me to the many librarians in the U.S. As I noted earlier, Librarians and Library Media Specialists earn an average of $61,190 U.S. Dollars a year and Librarian Technicians and Assistants earn an average salary of $34,050 U.S. Dollars a year. Most of the animated librarians in Western animation work in public libraries. Consider the unnamed librarian in We Bare Bears who is seemingly of Thai descent, who works at a branch of the the Los Angeles Public Library. She is shown as burned out and overworked, similar to Kaisa in Hilda.

She is not unique in this. Arguably Stewart Goodson and Myra in The Public may be be burned out to an extent. This differs from Mr. Anderson, the library manager. They all work at the Cincinnati Public Library. Also working in the Midwest is Bobby Daniels in The Ghost and Molly McGee and Clara Francis Censordoll in Moral Orel. Daniels is unique. He is one of the only Latine librarians apart from Mateo in Elena of Avalor and Eztli in Victor and Valentino that I know of in animation. Mateo is voiced by a gay man named Joseph “Joey” Haro, who is of Cuban descent, while Eztli is seemingly voiced by Jenny Lorenzo, who is also of Cuban descent. Daniels is voiced by Danny Trejo, he is presumably of Mexican descent since Trejo is of Mexican descent. There is a rich history of Mexican-American librarians, otherwise known as Chicano librarians, which tries to change the culture of the libraries they worked in to better suit their communities rather than White culture despite institutional resistance.

Censordoll is fundamentally different. In fact, her whole character stands against all the ethics and codes which librarians attest to. She dips books in kerosene so they can be burned and throws away books said to be “objectionable.” She is the equivalent of what the librarian-soldiers were fighting against in Library War and the present-day equivalent of book-banning/censorship efforts in the U.S., which seem to get worse every day. Such efforts are arguably a manifestation of fascism, although people don’t always use that word for them.

Other librarians appear in the Mid-Atlantic. This includes Harold in Craig of the Creek, who works at a librarian in the fictional town of Herkleton, Maryland in the Baltimore/D.C. metropolitan area. Additionally, the unnamed librarian in an episode of Steven Universe, “Buddy’s Book”, is located somewhere in Delmarva, along the Atlantic coast, in what can be called the Eastern Shore. Harold is voiced by Matt Burnett while the voice of the librarian in the Steven Universe episode is not currently known. The latter librarian may be more exhausted and tired than the former, although it is hard to know for sure because she is only shown very briefly in the episode itself.

three librarians in fiction
from left to right: Sherman “Swampy” in Phineas and Ferb, unnamed librarian in Rugrats and Mr. Ambrose in Bob’s Burgers

Apart from these is Sherman “Swampy” in Phineas & Ferb, possibly in the mid-Atlantic region, or other unnamed librarians in the series. This contrasts from Rugrats. Considering the series is seemingly set in Southern California, it means the unnamed librarian in that series is in the same area. This differs from Bob’s Burgers which is set somewhere in the Northeastern United States. Mr. Ambrose works in a school library there, specifically at Wagstaff School. He is said to be “flamboyant” on his fandom page, implying that he could be gay.

Similarly, Archie’s Weird Mysteries is set in New York, in the fictional town of Riverdale. The series includes Ms. Herrera, who may be Latine, and a librarian ghost named Violet Stanhope. In some scenes, she is shown as not a ghost. She remains in the town as she has unfinished business in the human world and can’t leave until it is completed. For all the hassle that Herrera goes through, I sure hop she is compensated well. That’s my hope, although I’m not sure if it is fulfilled or not

Then there is the unnamed librarian in Kim Possible who would fall within the “high school librarian” and “school librarian” category listed by the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook. She is voiced by April Winchell. The series takes place in a possibly Midwestern town named Middleton, but still located in the U.S. Considering the fact that she is a menace in the school, she may have strong-armed the administration to pay her adequately. Alternatively, she might be underpaid and is lashing out at students because her pay is low. Its hard to know. I wish someone would write a fan fiction about her, one day.

That’s all for this post. Until next time!

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] It is possible that Iku Kasahara and Asako Shibasaki in Library War are paid, although I can’t confirm that.

[2] “Librarian Average Salary in Norway 2022.” Salaryexplorer. Accessed June 6, 2022, says average salary is 396,000 NOK (39,250.194 Euros); “Librarian [Sweden].” SalaryExpert. Accessed June 6, 2022, says average salary is 414,891 kr (39,575.039 Euros); “Librarian Average Salary in Iceland 2022.” Salaryexplorer. Accessed June 6, 2022, says average salary of 467,000 ISK (3,376.6099 Euros); “Librarian Average Salary in Finland 2022.” Salaryexplorer. Accessed June 6, 2022, says average salary of 3,170 EUR; “Librarian Average Salary in Denmark 2022.” Salaryexplorer. Accessed June 6, 2022, says average salary of 28,600 DKK (3,844.6069 Euros); “What is the average salary of a librarian in Finland? Which source do I search for more information ? There is a librarian average salary history?” Ask a Librarian, Jun. 22, 2015. Used XE’s Currency Converter on June 6, 2022, inputting these average salaries then divided by five.

[3] “Librarian Salary in Japan.” Accessed June 6, 2022; “Museum Curator” [Japan]. SalaryExpert. Accessed June 6, 2022. Used XE Currency Converter on June 6, 2022.

[4] “Beautiful Libraries in Japan“. JapanTravel. Accessed June 6, 2022; “8 Beautiful Modern Libraries Designed by Master Architects in Japan.” Tsunagu Japan. Accessed June 6, 2022; Kawasaki, Yositaka, Genjiro Yamaguchi, and Ryoko Takashima. “The Development of Public Libraries in Japan After World War II.” 62nd IFLA General Conference – Conference Proceedings – August 25-31, 1996; Drake, Olivia. “Librarian Speaks on Intellectual Freedom in Japan.” The Wesleyan Connection. Oct. 5, 2006.

[5] Iwaski, Rei, Mutsumi Ohira, and Junko Nishio. “Pathways for School Library Education and Training in Japan.” IFLA, May 2019.  The library also appears in “Have You Decided on a Club?”, when the head of the literature club is talking to her friends in the library, and seems to read her books there to students as part of the club.

[6] “Average Librarian Salary in United Kingdom.” Payscale. Accessed June 7, 2022. Used XE Currency Converter on June 7, 2022.

[7] “Librarian Salary in France.” Accessed June 7, 2022; “France.” Libraries Without Borders. Accessed June 7, 2022; Dormant, Marcelline. “The French Connection.” American Libraries, Feb. 16, 2017; “Library Associations: France.” Internet Library for Librarians. Accessed June 7, 2022. The Economic Research Institute says something slightly different. Used XE Currency Converter on June 7, 2022.

[8] Lee, Yoonhee. “Bumpy Inroads.” American Libraries, May 1, 2020; Jensen, Kelly. “Librarians Under Pandemic Duress: Layoffs, Napkin Masks, and Fear of Retaliation.” Book Riot, Apr. 24, 2020; Babb, Mauren. “A Reflection on Precarity.” Partnership, Feb. 3, 2022; “Librarians fight rise of precarious work.” CBC, Mar. 27, 2016; Apouey, Bénédicte, Alexandra Roulet, Isabelle Solal, and Mark Stabile. (2020) “Gig Workers during the COVID-19 Crisis in France: Financial Precarity and Mental Well-Being.” J Urban Health 97, no. 6: 776-795; Thorkelson, Eli. (2016) “Precarity Outside: The political unconscious of French academic labor.” American Ethnologist 43, no. 3: 476.

[9] Arata, Hannah. “Hometown Librarian: Q&A with a Problem-Solving Small-Town Librarian.” Programming Librarian, May 19, 2021; Arata, Hannah. “Library on Wheels: Q&A With a Book Biking Librarian.” Programming Librarian, Aug. 23, 2021.

action animation anime Black people comedy fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums public libraries speculative fiction White people

Invoking and promoting power: Examining fictional library institutions

Beilin, a Humanities Research Services Librarian at Columbia University and occasional writer on In The Library With The Lead Pipe, explains [1] how use of European classical and medieval architecture by libraries persists because of specific vision of academia, and due to of its association with class distinction, elitism, and exclusivity. He further argues that such structures are meant to promote or invoke power, yet another indication that libraries aren’t neutral.
Today is International Day For Monuments and Sites. Also known as World Heritage Day, it is held on April 18 every year, with activities including visits to monuments and heritage sites, and more, honoring world heritage. For that, many of these monuments and sites invoke power. This is abundantly clear when it comes to libraries, including those in fiction, which are influenced by those in real-life.

Scholars have argued that libraries are operated and designed with a specific “racial motive”. They further have said they served the “interests of a white racial project” by helping with maintenance and construction of a White American citizenry and perpetuate White privilege within the structures o the library profession. [2] Others have stated that racial thinking influenced establishment of information institutions with Whiteness itself, influencing specific forms of infrastructure and policies, resulting in racialized structures.

Additional scholars have said that collections, description, cataloging, and exhibitions have shown resistance to change, with libraries serving as a place which transmits, preserves, and reproduces “certain values and regimes of knowledge”. This happens as libraries remain a place where people study, work, and gather. [3] There has been further discussion as to how libraries “reproduce whiteness and white supremacy” in many ways. This has led to to practices which are undoubtedly non-neutral, and is manifested in collections, hosted in some institutions, containing a “heavy legacy of colonialism”. [4]

Beyond that, there has been discussion about how library spaces themselves are White places, with a close relationship between race, place, and space through history. It has been said that libraries are not a place of non-oppression, questions of how libraries can become a “a place of freedom, liberation, and justice” when there is a place of diversity, racist/colonial cataloging practices, biased and limited collections, and the library itself enacting racism through “the maintenance of its own historically racist structure”. [5]

In response, some have said that alternative spaces should be constructed, places which don’t use the “unmarked normativity” of Whiteness and its dominating power, with its internal orders and external borders. Such normativity relies on “physical and conceptual policing” of the bounds of so-called “shared spaces of normalcy” in whatever that entails, especially at predominantly White institutions. This has led some to resist this and say that their librarianship is not for White people and others saying that White people need to develop the stamina for anti-racist work, transforming libraries into “anti-oppressive spaces where racial diversity is actually possible”. [6]

One such library that invokes power is shown in the Totally Spies! episode “Totally Switched!”. Only shown briefly, it looks like a bit of a temple, and is based on the Liverpool Central Library as confirmed by the Liverpool Library itself. It is within a building called the William Brown Library and Museum according to the relevant Wikipedia page.

The library undoubtedly invokes and promotes power. Furthermore, the librarian inside, whom I’ve written about on two occasions, first in May 2021, and again in March 2022, manifests this as well, by throwing an unruly (or surly) patron across the room. This grand look to the library is almost made to make it look like a temple, to make people see it with awe. The spies care little for this, however, as they break-in to examine the librarian’s date book without any problem, which they later put back. This library is only one example of this in fiction.

Another example is the inside of the Trolberg library in Hilda. Although the outside is somewhat grand with its columns, what is inside would make anyone stare with awe. In the Witches’ Tower, there’s an inner room with stacks upon stacks of books. There, a committee of witches resides, ones which are high-ranking witches. They also appear to be Kaisa’s bosses at the library, getting angry at her for not returning a book on time, harshly threatening to cast her into the void if she disobeys them, despite her strong disagreement.

Even more than the outside of the library in Totally Spies, the Trolberg library is meant to have an aura of knowledge. After all, it is two stories, has cabinets of books on almost every subject, and has secret rooms, the equivalent of special collections, which contain spellbooks.

The same can be said for the inner room of the Buddy Buddwick Library in an episode of Steven Universe. The shelves are neatly organized and cleaned. In some ways, it is so organized that it almost seems that no one uses it, unlike the school library in the latter part of Oresuki, when it becomes more heavily used by students, or any of those in episodes of The Simpsons, to give two examples.

Invoking power more directly is the Biblioteca in various episodes of Elena of Avalor. Accessed by Mateo, a royal wizard who helps the show’s protagonist, Elena, it is accessible through the floor and filled with books, materials, and other items. It also appears, similar to the library in What If…? to be magical in some way or another, as Mateo, or Elena at times, appear to be the only ones who can access it.

In that way, the library has an inherent power of its own which is built into how it can be accessed and the original creator, Alacazar, who happens to be Mateo’s grandfather. This makes it unique from other fictional libraries described in this article.

Library revealed in Elena of Avalor

When the library appears first in the episode “Spirit of the Wizard”, Mateo is in awe of the library after Alacazar reveals it to him and Elena. Their animal friend is impressed, as is Mateo, amazed by all the spellbooks that are there. This awe somewhat fades when they realize that Alacazar will only last as long as the book that contains him remains intact. If it fades into nothingness, so does he. They only stay their briefly and move onto their main mission.

This is not the only instance in which the library projects power. Consider the enchanted library in Sofia the First, by the same creator as Elena of Avalor, Craig Gerber. The library is within a tree and and in a secluded area, only accessible through a secret hole in the bedroom of Princess Sofia, and then a boat ride. After that, it has been opened up with a book-like blue key. Speaking of exclusive! The fandom page for the library states that it “contains hundreds, if not thousands, of books,” many of which contain “unfinished stories of lives” that need good endings, something the Storykeeper, a sort of librarian, fulfills.

Just as imposing on the viewer (and character) is the Bonesborough Library in The Owl House. Luz Noceda, one of the show’s protagonists, first travels there when she is delivering a stack of books for her friend and guardian-of-sorts, Eda. She a little intimidated and undoubtedly in awe of this library. The library’s collections are organized by the Demon Decimal System (feeding them will cause them to sneeze and mess up the card catalog). There are also areas for manga and cyclops, and a children’s section. It is a public library with forbidden stacks and is staffed by an unnamed glasses wearing librarian at the information desk, Amity Blight in the children’s area, and a master librarian named Malphas. Additional parts of the library include a reference, fiction, non-fictions section, along with Amity’s hideout.

Even the library operated by George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, two gay Black men who are the fathers of Bow, is imposing in its own way. The fandom page simply calls it a “giant multi-floor residence, museum and library” containing a large staircase, piano, a “grand collection of books”, and a fireplace. The outside is covered with vines making it a bit mysterious and hidden from onlookers. It is so hidden that Bow didn’t tell his friends Adora and Glimmer about it, who only found out when they were worried about about him when he didn’t report back to them.

The same can be said about the library of sorts which appears over and over throughout LoliRock. It is a magical library which the princess can practice their magic and learn new spells. It is a secret magical room which can be “accessed through a basement beside the rehearsal studio” and Talia works to keep order in the library. However, it isn’t as imposing as some of the other libraries, however, in part because it is smaller. Due to its magic, it has a strong effect.

library in RWBY
Library in RWBY

Other libraries have such a powerful effect as well. For instance Nigel in Tangled episode “Pascal’s Dragon” reads books in the library inside the Corona castle to learn more about dragons. While there, he learns about their dangers and why should be stopped. The same can be said for the library that Marcy and King Andreas are in the Amphibia episode “Lost in Newtopia.” Both are library users.

There’s also the libraries in RWBY, Sorcerous Stabber Orphen, Classroom of the Elite, Revolutionary Girl Utena, and El-Hazard. All of these libraries have a grand feel to them. The same can be said for libraries in Star Wars, Mysticons, Bravest Warriors, or the self-created library in Prisoner Zero. The latter is unique because similar to the bookmobiles in Mira, Royal Detective, the blue-skinned librarian in Prisoner Zero creates his own library in the hull of a ship. Although it is sadly destroyed, the library is filled with knowledge and materials of all types, although it mainly stores different types of books.

The same can even be said about The Stanza in Welcome to the Wayne. It is meticulously organized and it is meant to awe the patron. At the same time, it is accessible to people with a handrail that allows you to move across the library or non-human library assistants who will bring books to you. This is different than many of the other grand libraries shown in animation which have been covered in this article.

None of these libraries experience the decay and disarray which faces real-life libraries in Africa, due to Western designs being imposed on Africa rather than using decentralized models. Instead, these libraries are akin to real-life libraries which are said to be “beautiful” or “gorgeous”, with their imposing and monumental structures claimed to impress and dazzle people. [7] What is not always considered is if these structures are practical for the librarians and for the patrons. That is usually never mentioned in animated series and may be ignored in real-life too, so things can stay the way they are, even if problems exist within an institution which cause it to be rotten to the core.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Ian Beilin,”The Academic Research Library’s White Past and Present” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 88-89

[2] Ibid, 85.

[3] Todd Honma, “Forward” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. xi; Beilin, 80-81.

[4] Beilin, 82; Megan Watson, “White Feminism and Distributions of Power in Academic Libraries” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 166; Section by Nicole A. Cooke in chapter by Nicole A. Cooke, Katrina Spencer, Jennifer Margolis Jacobs, Cass Mabbott, Chloe Collins, and Rebekah M. Loyd, “Mapping Topographies from the Classroom: Addressing Whiteness in the LIS Curriculum” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 237; Natalie Baur, Margarita Vargas-Betancourt, and George Apodaca, “Breaking Down the Borders: Dismantling Whiteness Through International Bridges” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 287.

[5] Beilin, 83, 86, 91, 93; Vani Natarajan, “Nostalgia, Cuteness, and Geek Chic: Whiteness in Orla Kiely’s Library” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 130.

[6]  David James Hudson, “The Whiteness of Practicality” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 206, 213-214; Jorge R. Lopez-McKnight, “My Librarianship is Not For You” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 261, 265; Section by Kristyn Caragher entitled “Anti-Oppression Workshop Series at the University Library” within Melissa Kalpin Prescott, Kristyn Caragher, and Katie Dover-Taylor, “Disrupting Whiteness: Three Perspectives on White Anti-Racist Librarianship” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 301.

[7] Silver, Richard. “22 Pictures Of Beautiful Libraries That I Took While Traveling Around The World.” BoredPanda, May 2022; Ganea, Simona. “10 Of The Most Impressive And Inspiring Libraries Around The World.” Homedit, Jan. 25, 2012; Waldek, Stefanie. “10 of the Most Beautiful Libraries in the World.” Galerie, Jul. 5, 2018; “Library Buildings : Architecture.” e-architect, Sept. 5, 2021.

action adventure fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries speculative fiction White people

Behind the Screen: White male voice actors who bring fictional librarians to life!

From left to right: Nico Colaleo, Matt Burnett, Kelsey Grammer, and Gary Martin.

Part of understanding fictional librarians is understanding those behind the screen, specifically when it comes to those who voice animated characters. Part 1 of this series focused on Black voice actors, Part 2 on Asian and Latin American voice actors, Part 3 on Indian voice actors, Part 4 on Japanese voice actors, Part 5 on Japanese-speaking and English-speaking voice actors, and Part 6 on White female voice actors.

In this seventh part of this series, I am profiling White men [1] who have voiced librarian characters over the years.

About the voice actors

There are a number of prominent White male voice actors. This includes Nico Colaleo as Desiree in Too Loud, the only transgender librarian I’ve covered on this blog so far. He is the creator of Too Loud and Ollie & Scoops, while he has works as an animation timer for Netflix Animation, Nickelodeon, Disney TVA, and Titmouse. Then there’s Matt Burnett who voices Harold in Craig of the Creek. Burnett is a co-creator of the same show, with Ben Levin as the other co-creator.

Actors Kelsey Grammer and Gary Martin mentioned prominent librarian characters as well. Grammer voices Blinkous “Blinky” Galadrigal in Tales of Arcadia. Martin voices the unnamed librarian in Prisoner Zero. Both are talented actors, with Grammer known for voicing Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons. Martin voiced characters, by contrast, in many video games and animated films.

Other White men voiced librarians as well. For instance, Steve Zahn voices Swampy in Phineas and Ferb, George DiCenzo voiced the unnamed elderly librarian in the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode “Three Courageous Hearts,” and John Cygan as Archie the Archivist in Regular Show, who is a mix of an archivist and a librarian. In addition, Jamie Watson voiced Mr. Snellson, named after a snail, in the Mysticons episode “Happily Never After.”

There is also a rash of White men who voiced female librarians, which is strange, because it is not known why women weren’t cast for those roles instead. First and foremost this includes Steve Little as Turtle Princess in Adventure Time and Adventure Time: Distant Lands. It also includes Jay Johnston, David Herman, and Scott Adsit, all of whom voiced Francis Clara Censorsdoll in different parts of Moral Orel.

Additional White male voice actors included those voicing humanoid or non-human librarians, like Tony Daniels as Mr. X in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Thiago Martins as Mumm-Ra in the Fudêncio e Seus Amigos episode (“Biblioteca Maldita”), Tom Britton as the librarian in an episode of Sarah and Duck entitled “Lost Librarian”. There’s also Richard Epcar as Mr. Noisy and Paul Greenberg as Mr. Quiet, both in the The Mr. Men Show episode, “Library”. Arguably, Tom Kenny, who voices Gary in Spongebob Squarepants is a librarian in the episode “Library Cards” as is Jeff Bergman who voices Foghorn Leghorn in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Weirdest Story Ever Told”.

Daniels is known for various animated roles while very little is known as about Martins apart from being a director and writer, and nothing about Britton. On the other hand, Epcar is said to have voiced “over 600 characters in Video games, Animation and Anime” according to his IMDB page, while Greenberg who is a writer and performer. Bergman has voiced iconic characters like Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, The Joker, Yogi Bear, Droopy, and Zap, to name a few roles.

About the characters

From left to right: Desiree, Harold, Blinky, unnamed librarian, Swampy, and another unnamed librarian

Desiree in Too Loud, is the only transgender librarian I’ve covered on this blog so far. She is a volunteer librarian at the local library along with her sister, Sara, and another volunteer, Sarah. Harold in Craig of the Creek is just as helpful as Desiree, and works at the local library.

Blinkous “Blinky” Galadrigal is a protagonist in Tales of Arcadia. He is a tall troll who likes books, history, teaching and training Jim, an going on quests and adventures with his friends. He also his highly knowledgeable about history, and even has a library of his own with books he created and ones his brother created. He is also a master tactician, can manipulate people, can serve as a leader, is a skilled piano player, and can craft (or upgrade) weapons

Another key librarian character is the unnamed librarian in Prisoner Zero. He has blue skin and a large head, along with a shell on his back from which he can pull objects, including books. He is very old, but also very knowledgeable, having a library of his own.

Swampy in Phineas and Ferb, is also named Sherman. He works at a local public library, the Tri-State Area Public Library, an some say he is a washed-up rock star who is a librarian who believes he doesn’t have any talent anymore. Phineas and Ferb are able to get Swampy to get out of the library and re-join the band. In the process, however, they cause disruption in the library and probably make it worse for those who come into the library, which is a bad thing.

There’s an unnamed elderly librarian in the She-Ra: Princess of Power episode “Three Courageous Hearts.” He oversees a library in the Valley of the Lost, something which very few people visit. Then there is the Inner Library, which has books in a language not used in many years. Inside there is a nameless glowing book.

Left to right: Archie the Archivist, Mr. Snellson, Turtle Princess, Francis Clara Censordoll, and Mr. X

That brings me to Archie the Archivist in Regular Show, who is a mix of an archivist and a librarian. He is one bizarre character, a mix of a person who helps the protagonists and a laser disc guardian. His character is so strange that I wrote about it for my other blog.

Mr. Snellson, named after a snail, in the Mysticons episode “Happily Never After.” He is an enforcer of the mythical Library of the Eternal Equinox, enforcing the rules and priding himself on running a library which safe, quiet, and happy. He also has a literary agent.

Then there’s Turtle Princess in Adventure Time and Adventure Time: Distant Lands. She is a princess and head of a library within the Land of Ooo. She is very strict about rules in the library, wanting everything to be quiet as she enjoys silence and peace.

Francis Clara Censorsdoll in Moral Orel is perhaps the most out-there librarian I have ever seen. She dips “obscene” or “objectionable” books in kerosene and burns them. She also has weird diets, like loving to eat eggs and strange habits. She is a socially conservative librarian, a Protestant, picketer of “evil” films at the local theatre, and a terrifying reminder that libraries are not neutral.

Mr. X in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is sometimes referred to X the Owl or Uncle X. He is shown wearing brown shoes and a green bow tie. He works as a librarian in the town and is always courteous to those who work there in the best way that he can.

left to right: Mumm-Ra, unnamed librarian, Mr. Noisy, Mr. Quiet, Gary, and Foghorn Leghorn

There’s six other characters I’m going to highlight in this post: Mumm-Ra in the Fudêncio e Seus Amigos episode “Biblioteca Maldita“, Librarian in the “Lost Librarian” episode of Sarah and Duck, Mr. Noisy and Mr. Quiet in The Mr. Men Show episode “Library,” Gary as a librarian in the Spongebob Squarepants episode “Library Cards,” and Foghorn Leghorn in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Weirdest Story Ever Told“.

Mumm-Ra is an interesting librarian. He is a bit like a priest, but also a librarian at the same time, if that makes sense. He an evil figure of this new library who seeks the eye of Thundera. He is also a librarian who considers the library his own private domain and claims that time means nothing to him. The characters trick Mumm-Ra into thinking they have given him the real eye after they destroy the actual one.

Librarian in the “Lost Librarian” helps Sarah and Duck look for a book on periscopes. He becomes lost when he loses his catalog which tells him where all the books in the library are. In the process, he travels with them across the library. He eventually finds that book and the book they were looking for, on periscopes.

Mr. Noisy and Mr. Quiet in The Mr. Men Show are opposites of each other. Mr. Noisy is loud with a megaphone-styled bullhorn and makes a lot of noise even though he is the librarian. In contrast, Mr. Quiet, is accident-prone but his voice is barely audible and he is blamed by people when he tries to speak out, but can’t.

Gary acts as a librarian by overseeing the library while Patrick tries to grow more and more intelligent. His head becomes so big he can’t get through the door. Spongebob tries to make Patrick leave but his attempts fail until he shows him an inane cartoon show, causing him to become “dumb again,” weirdly enough.

Foghorn Leghorn is a bit like Mr. Noisy, Desiree or Sara in that he is overly loud but is also a librarian. In the episode, he tells Buster and Babs to be quiet even though he is being very loud. It is supposed to be ironic, but in another way it goes against the librarian stereotype that librarians are shushers. On the other, however, it implies that such shushing is the norm, even though it is not.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Voice actors not known: librarian in The Owl House episode (“Lost in Language”), unnamed librarian in Sofia the First episode (“Forever Royal”?), and Cletus Bookworm in The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends.

action adventure animation anime comedy Comics fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries Movies mystery Pop culture mediums public libraries romance school libraries speculative fiction webcomics

Recently added titles (February 2023)

A villain transforms into a stereotypical librarian and annoys a Black girl
The Beyonder shapeshifts into the librarian and surprises Lunella who is trying to divide her project into pieces, so Eduardo doesn’t mess it up. His appearance embodies the stereotypical depiction of librarians.

Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of 2022, and January of this year this post notes recent titles with libraries or librarians in popular culture which I’ve come across in the past month. Each of these has been watched or read during the past month. Not as many animated series or anime with libraries this past month, but I did come across a good deal in comics, and hopefully there will be more that I find in the days, weeks, and months to come. That’s my hope at least.

Animated series recently added to this page

  • Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, “The Beyonder”

Anime series recently added to this page

  • The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady aka Tensei Oujo to Tensai Reijou no Mahou Kakumei, “The Magic Lecture of the Founder and the Assistant”

Comics recently added to this page

  • Daybreak, “Episode 46”
  • Ice Cold, “Bonus Episode: Hard questions”
  • I Seduced the Hero’s Mother, “Episode 10”
  • The Vampire Librarian, “Part 36”
  • Vixen: NYC, “Episode 40”
  • Vixen: NYC, “Episode 40”
  • WBM: Black Joy Anthology, “Bakery Man – 2”

Films recently added to this page

None of this month

Other entries recently added to this page

None of this month


© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Thank you to all the people that regularly read my blog. As always, if you have any titles you’d like to suggest, let me know. Thanks!

action adventure animation Black people fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums speculative fiction

Revisiting Clara Rhone: A fictional Black librarian who heads “The Stanza”

Clara talks to Ansi
Clara talks to Ansi in a friendly manner in the first episode of Welcome to the Wayne, giving off a lasting impression.

In April 2021, I gushed about my guest post reviewing Welcome to the Wayne for the ALA’s side publication, I Love Libraries, to the then-Content Strategy Manager at the ALA, Lindsey Simon, saying it was amazing “how many times libraries appear in this series” and described the article as “really exciting and fun to write about.” Simon called the series “awesome.” It would be the last post I would ever write while she was there. And while I did, later, publish posts about Milo Murphy’s Law and The Owl House, it would not be the same. Since that time, I considered that I had closed a chapter after finishing Welcome to the Wayne and didn’t consider re-watching it, especially with all the anime I began watching. However, for this last post of Black History Month in 2023, I took a deep dive into the series once more. This post will connect Clara Rhone (voiced by Harriet D. Foy), the chief librarian of the secret (and magical) library, The Stanza, in the series, to issues that Black people, especially Black women, experience as librarians.

In my post earlier this month, I described her as an “oft supporting character who runs the Stanza,” which is hidden within the Wayne apartment building. I further noted that she doesn’t do the library work all by herself but is helped by non-human library workers and that she becomes a central part of the story. There’s a lot more going on than that. She is fundamentally different from the other Black librarians I have highlighted on this blog. She is not a historian like George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Nor is she a sorcerer like Cagliostro in an episode of What If…?

All in all, there is no doubt that her character, as I described it in July of last year, steals the show. This is amazing considering that Clara’s voice actor, Foy, is well-known for film, TV, Broadway, and musical roles, but this is her first animated role! She does a great job in that respect. However, her character is likely “drawn and conceptualized by White people” as I theorized in a previous post. Even so, the library she manages is a place of knowledge, and is meticulously organized. She is more than a librarian too, meaning that her portrayal passes the Librarian Portrayal Test or LPT, and has a daughter, Goodness, who helps her, while she remains the chief librarian. She gets plaudits from me for not being a scary woman, which is too common in Western animation, sad to say. Her role gives me “hope yet for Western animation series” as I put it in March 2021.

This brings me to what I wrote about in April 2021. I noted that Clara is shown shelving books, encouraging the protagonist, Ansi, to become a member of the library, and giving them vital information for their adventures, all in the first episode! Then, in a later episode, episode 12, she even sends a library ninja, Goodness, to try and drive the protagonists from the library, with the role of role of librarians as gatekeepers is emphasized when she warns them that if the leave with the vampire they can never return. This threat is never fulfilled because in a later episode, episode 19, Goodness and Saraline break into the library, catch a creature, and spot Clara shelving books. Then, in the finale of season one, she offers her help to the protagonists.

She reappears in the seventh episode of the show’s second season, shushing her granddaughter, Goodness, telling her to use her “Stanza voice.” Although this corresponds to the stereotype of librarians shushing patrons, she makes up for it by showing the a book that shows them all that ever happened in the Wayne. Later, in the show’s final episode, she is briefly possessed by a weird gas and is shown, in the episode’s ending, doing exercises on her room’s balcony. She has all the time in the world, because the library is outside of time.

John keats, clara, and ansi
Clara motions to John Keats, a squidjit, while she holds Ansi there with her cane

Her fandom page, of a fandom site for the show that is barely updated, doesn’t provide much more information. It notes her appearance, wearing a pearl necklace, a brown blouse, and light red scarf, and describes her as “gentle and soothing, and is very kind to those who stumble upon the Stanza.” She only appears in one fan fic, where she doesn’t even appear to be mentioned by name! Even worse is the fact that in the reviews, apart from my own, she isn’t even mentioned, despite the fact that some mention the Stanza or just call her “the librarian”. [1] These reviewers and others erased her from existence, deeming her non-important. It is disgusting and disturbing, although not surprising considering that the show remains a bit obscure, despite the fact that it aired on Nickeloedon from 2017 to 2019 and was nominated for two Daytime Emmys in 2018 and 2019.

This erasure is nothing new. There has been a long-standing erasure of Black history, including art history, and culture, in favor of White narratives. It is something, as Brittany Spranos, now a staff writer for Rolling Stone, described as something which oppression and systemic racism feed off, saying it is everywhere from the (in)justice system to “art and popular culture” where being a Black creator has meant you are “only valuable if appetizing to a white consumer market, and…able to be reimagined as a form of art without non-white origins.” [2]

When it comes to Black librarians, they face more challenges than just erasure. Across work environments, Black people engage in code-switching, meaning that they can’t be “themselves or express themselves freely without suffering severe repercussions,” keeping their personal and work lives separate.  They further have to deal with  the norm of the white dominant culture with silly questions about people’s weekends, not sharing anything too personal, and with the idea that any time a Black woman objects they are manifesting the angry Black woman stereotype, with their thoughts ignored. [3] Clara does not experience any of this in Welcome to the Wayne, as she is the head librarian and manager of the library. She doesn’t have to experience discrimination, microaggressions (either microassaults, microinsults, or microinvalidations), or stereotypical thoughts directed toward her. She just can do her job without being disturbed. All the show’s characters respect her for that, even if they have their own ideas for how librarians are “supposed” to behave. Sadly, due to the characters who come into the library, she doesn’t have the opportunity to connect to other Black people. That is something real-life Black librarians experience, even if they are not valued for their work and contributions, despite the fact they should be, but continue to keep trying no matter what. [4]

Due to the fact that she is the head of the Stanza, she likely has the power to collecting materials for and by Black people, like many other librarians out there. But, how many of her patrons are Black? If we base it on the characters in the show, very few of them would be Black, with Ansi Molina as mixed-race or the Arcsine. This is reflected in Ansi’s voice actor, Alanna Ubach, who is part Mexican and Puerto Rican, while Katie DiCicco, who voices the Arcsine appears to be a person of color and this is one of her only roles over the years. Even so, for Clara the job may be a “calling” to her, a form of vocational awe, like with some librarians, or realize what a vital role she plays as a librarian, like other Black people in the library profession. Clara may even know about other Black librarians in the past, who have paved the way for her to be in her role. [5] That’s all up to speculation at this point, unfortunately, due to a lack of reviews of the show.

Beyond this, I’d hope that Clara has used her clear dedication and persistence to make contributions to her library, and librarianship as a whole. If she did so, she would be following in the footsteps of many Black librarians before her. This includes those like librarian Dorothy B. Porter who smashes the racist and sexist Dewey Decimal System (DDC) to pieces and built her own cataloging system which actually helped people find what they were looking for rather than maintaining the White status quo that DDC keeps in place. She may even have the time to create research collections documenting people in the Wayne itself, like Miriam Matthews in Los Angeles where she began as a librarian in 1927, or the first Black librarian employed by New York City, Nella Larson Imes, among many others. [6]

Clara talks to Tony Stanza
In the beginning of the second episode of this series, Clara talks to Tony Stanza, keeper of the Stanza Archives, while she holds an information file on Ansi, saying she will try to retrieve him.

Much of what I am saying is supposition, however. In the series itself,  Clara only appears in eight episodes, seven of which she is voiced by Foy, who lists Clara in her resume along with other characters, and elsewhere as “Miss Clara.” [7] Some day, I’d love to interview her about the role, and if that comes to pass, then I’ll be sure to post about it here. That’s all for this post. Until next week!

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] See, for example, Walden, Jennifer. “Audio:’s ‘Welcome to the Wayne’.” Post Magazine, Apr. 1, 2015; Ashby, Emily. “Welcome to the Wayne TV Review.” Common Sense Media, Apr. 1, 2022; Damon Cap. “Welcome To The Wayne Review.” BSCKids, Jun. 30, 2017; “Show of the week: Welcome to the Wayne.” Television Business International, accessed May 29, 2022; Jurado, Peter. “Why We Love Welcome To The Wayne.” ComicsVerse, Aug. 7, 2017.

[2] Wabi-Sabi, Mirna and Fabio Teixeira, “Erasure of Black History in Favor of White Narratives Isn’t Limited to the US.” Truthout, Aug. 23, 2020; Eye Candy. “addressing black erasure in the arts: artists fight back.” AfroPunk, Aug. 16, 2018; Taking a Look at the Erasure of Black History.” PantherNow, Feb. 16, 2021; Saulson, Sumiko. “Diversity talk highlights anti-Blackness and Black erasure within the LGBTQIA+ community.” San Francisco Bay View, Nov. 7, 2019; Kelly, Kayla. “Black allyship or Black erasure?The Eagle, Feb. 9, 2022; Sehgal, Parul. “Fighting ‘Erasure’.” New York Times Magazine, Feb. 7, 2016; Spanos, Brittney. “The Year in Black Erasure.” Pitchfork, Dec. 22, 2014.

[3] Konata, La Loria. “Looking Through a Colored Lens: A Black Librarian’s Narrative,” Georgia State University, 2017, pp. 116-121

[4] Ibid, 123-4, 126.

[5] Patrick, Diane. “Developing Collections ‘By Any Means Necessary’“. Publisher’s Weekly, Jun. 30, 2013; Parker, Haillie and Allie Barton. “Invisible Chapters: Writing Tucson’s Black community into the stories of libraries, bookstores and publishing.” Tuscon Weekly, Dec. 14, 2020, Keeton, kYmberly. “A Personal Assessment: The African-American Librarian in the 21st Century“. University of Houston African American Studies, accessed May 29, 2022; Cooke, Nicole A. “Black Librarians Project.” LHRT News and Notes, accessed May 29, 2022; “Augusta Baker, Librarian, and Educator born,” AAREG, 1993.

[6] Dawson, Alma. “Celebrating African-Americans and Librarianship.” Library Trends Vol. 49, No. 1, Summer 2000, pp. 49-87; Hunt, Rebecca D. “African American Leaders in the Library Profession: Little Known History.” Black History Bulletin Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 14-19; Helton, Laura. “On Decimals, Catalogs, and Racial Imaginaries of Reading.” Humanities Commons, 2019; Kindig, Jessie. “Miriam Matthews (1905–2003).” BlackPast, Dec. 16, 2007; “Minnie Fisher (1896-1990), Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Interviewed by: Dorothy R. Robinson, December 29, 1979.” HOLLIS for Archival Discovery, Harvard University. Dec. 29, 1979; Johnson, Doris Richardson. “Nella Larsen (1891-1963).” BlackPast, Jan. 19, 2007; “Black Women Oral History Project Interviews, 1976–1981,” Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, accessed May 29, 2022; Reft, Ryan. “Fighting for Leisure: African Americans, Beaches, and Civil Rights in Early 20th Century L.A.” KCET, May 16, 2014; Hochman, Rebecca. “Investing in Literature: Ernestine Rose and the Harlem Branch Public Library of the 1920s“. Legacy, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2014), pp. 93.

[7] Foy, Harriet D. “Resume.” Accessed May 29, 2022; Foy, Harriet D. “Bio.” Accessed May 29, 2022. Foy’s IMDB page lists her as voicing Rhone in seven episodes: “Rise and Shine Sleepyhead” (s1ep1); “Like a Happy, Happy Bird” (s1ep2); “Wall-to-Wall Ping-Pong Ball” (s1ep12), “Keep an Eye on the Nose” (s1ep19), “So This is Glamsterdam” (s1ep20), “Wiles Styles Your Over” (s2ep7); “Some Sort of Bad Luck Curse” (s2ep9). She also appears briefly in  “Whoever Controls the Wayne, Controls the World” (s2ep10) but is not voiced.

action adventure animation anime Black people drama empty libraries fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries magic libraries mystery Pop culture mediums public libraries speculative fiction White people

Bellissime librerie!: Library tourism from Venezia to Burano

Buongiorno! After getting my degree from library school in December 2019, I’ve been occasionally going to libraries, sometimes as a patron, and other times as a tourist. The latter was the case in Italy, where I went on a vacation with my parents, in September 2022. I traveled there, in part, to visit a town called Casola, in the mountains above Parma, where my cousins own a trattoria. It’s also where my great-grandfather and his siblings were born, and lived, some of whom immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. In this post, I won’t focus on my expanded albero genealogico (family tree), but rather on my library tourism, as it could be called, during my trip in Italy.

For the first part of my trip, I stayed in an agritourismo in the suburbs of Firenze, often known as Florence, a beautiful city in Northern Italy. Multiple times I attempted to enter a biblioteca (library) in the center of the city, known as the Laurentian Medici Library. The first time I tried, I was told by the attendant that the library was only open to students. The second time, I was informed that the library was “permanently closed.” Whether that is still the case, I’m not sure, but I believe it probably is. Later on in the trip, I attempted to enter the Galileo Museum library, in downtown Firenze. Unfortunately, I was turned away, by a nice middle-aged Italian librarian who was working there, and told that the library was only for researchers. Through all of this, I somehow overlooked the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze. That library, also known as the National Central Library of Florence, is located on the Arno River.

Image of one of the library rooms at the Correr Museum. Sorry for the blurriness. (Photograph by me)

It wasn’t until September 18 that I visited my first library of sorts, in Venezia (Venice), Italy. It was within the Correr Museum on St. Mark’s Square. There were various library rooms filled with books and collections for tourists to examine. Some were rooms filled with artifacts collected by Francesco Morosini, Bessarion, and Venezia itself, like globes, manuscripts, and other items.

The next day, with my mom and dad, I visited the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, also known as the Marciana Library or Library of Saint Mark, which is inside the Correr Museum. Run by the Italian Ministry of Culture, it holds thousands of manuscripts, about one million post-16th century books, and many other artifacts, like globes, maps, and sculptures. While it is more of a museum than a library, it still has many library features. This includes pamphlets on a table which were labeled “for reference only” and beautiful paintings on the ceilings, in-keeping with Italian art. Some rooms were built by Joseph Sansovino, a famous Venetian architect.

A mangy library cat and the Venetian isle of Burano

On September 20, my next-to-last day in Italy, I traveled to Burano, an island near Venezia known for its colorful houses. It is a very tourist-centered island geared towards those who want to buy clothing, especially clothing with handmade lace, something the island is known for. A mangy, black cat guided me to a public library! It was almost like a dream. The library’s official website says the library, which is accessible to people with disabilities, has a “total of 5 rooms, 3 of which are reserved as reading rooms with 50 seats.” It is part of the Venice Library system.

Pamphlets on display inside the Burano library. (Photograph by me)

Not long after entering, my mom, dad, and I met an elderly Italian woman who was helpful, even though she knew very little English. She seemed to be the librarian on duty, helped by another Italian woman who was about the same age, sitting behind an information desk. On the wall in another room was an Italian-language version of the Dewey Decimal System. Both library workers were friendly and embodied an attitude of Italians I experienced throughout my vacation in Northern Italy: Italians want you to understand what they are saying, even if you speak very little Italian.

The librarian showed us around the small library, noting their collections, and what services they had to offer, such as a children’s corner. This even included a bathroom. While that might seem strange, elsewhere in Italy, you had to pay one Euro to use the bathroom, equivalent to about one U.S. dollar. In this library, the bathroom was open and could be used free-of-charge.

The library seemed like a place that Lady Elianna Bernstein or Myne, protagonists of Bibliophile Princess and Ascendance of a Bookworm respectfully, would be at home. However, both would probably complain that there weren’t enough books, even if they were enthralled with books about town’s history, teen fiction, or even children’s picture books. Myne would likely be overjoyed by the latter, since she tasked kids at a local orphanage with creating such books, in the anime series, in an attempt to make free books available. She did so despite pushback from her sponsor-of-sorts, a city merchant named Benno, who wanted to sell books rather than giving them out for free.

My parents and I were likely some of the only – or maybe even the first – tourists to enter the library in Burano. Many probably walk past it, as they’d rather shop or see the recommended sites. They might be thrown off by the mangy cat or the library itself. After all, black cats are, unfortunately, seen as bad luck, as witches in disguise, or many other silly superstitions. For me, the black cat was, in a sense, a form of good luck, as I wouldn’t have found the library if I hadn’t followed the cat! In order to respect the privacy of the librarians, I decided to not take their photographs. Instead, I only took photos of the library itself. In fact, I took all the photos displayed in this post.

Library entrance (left) and close-up of library sign (right). (Photographs by me)

There were no witchy librarians like Kaisa in Hilda, nor any like Clara Rhone in Welcome to the Wayne. That didn’t matter. What was important is the fact that the library was there with services to help the community. I remain optimistic that those in the community use the library to learn more about the island they live on, the world in-large, and themselves, becoming more informed citizens in the process.

Bibliotourism + its benefits

While visiting libraries in Italy did not give me culture shock, it gave me a glimpse into how libraries in Italy function and serve patrons. That is something I believe is valuable. Some have praised library tourism, also known as bibliotourism, or argued that “public libraries should be a tourist destination the way museums are” since libraries are a reflection of the community they serve. Others even created blogs about this form of tourism, like The Library Tourist, considered integrating libraries in “the tourism sector” ,or called bibliotourism the “next big trend”.

Whether any of that is the case, the fact is that library tourism must be done respectfully without imposing one’s culture and beliefs onto another. Although this doesn’t always happen, as the trend continues, as libraries become tourist attractions, and some tourists are downright snobbish. Ultimately, library tourism is inevitable since libraries play an important role in tourism. Some even believe that since libraries interconnect with tourism, they can promote sustainable development in countries such as China. In any case, visiting a library as a tourist, and even better, as a patron, can allow you to experience the space, the architecture, and understand the library’s role in the society in which it resides.

While I was a tourist in Italy, along with my parents, I was also a patron, as I used available library services. It is possible for someone to be a patron and a tourist. Doing so is more respectful than coming into a library on a whim, taking some photos and leaving, then going on your merry way, without a care in the world. Library tourism is possible despite the continually raging COVID-19 pandemic, causing library practices to change. The latter includes renewed efforts to serve those coming to a library as tourists, in addition to serving patrons from the local community.

In the end, as I continue through my career, I plan to visit libraries, not just as a tourist, but as a patron, understanding the role that the libraries I’m entering play in the local community, while respecting those who work at the libraries, and fellow patrons.

© 2022-2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

This is post is reprinted from my guest post on January 25 on Reel Librarians.

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