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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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From action to romance: Examining student librarians in anime

The Japanese Library Association (JLA) reports that almost all of the schools in Japan have libraries, with tens of thousands in elementary and junior high schools, and less in high, middle, and special schools. Specifically, there are many more libraries in elementary schools than in other schools, due to the number of schools. Even so, there is a School Library Law first enacted in 1953, which states that schools “should have libraries,” and a 1997 amendment which led teacher librarians to be sent to schools with more than 12 classes. However, they aren’t excepted from regular duties as teachers of specific subjects in classrooms. [1] In addition there is a library law which was first enacted in 1950, with amendments from 1952 to 1965. This focus is reflected in anime, which I’ll focus on in this post, bringing together many other scattered posts on this blog which have included student librarians.

All these characters work in school libraries, otherwise known as school library media centers, which are libraries within schools where students, staff, and parents of the school have access to resources, with a mission to allow all members of the school’s community to have equitable access to resources,while using different types of media, the internet, and books. They are distinct from public libraries because they extend, support, and individualize the curriculum of the school, and as the coordinating and central agency for school materials. They have been praised for positively supporting student assessment. [2] These libraries are meant to serve small and large groups,having a learning space for students, functioning as a central location of information available. It also allows students to safely access internet, and has collaborative ventures with staff, providing opportunities for students. At the same time, the budget is important, while school libraries are staffed either by librarians, teacher librarians, or others who have a library science degree. [3]

When it comes to librarians in anime, they are student librarians. Speaking broadly, not specifically about Japan, but about these librarians in general, they provide valuable input for library development and “raise the profile of the library among their peers”. They also ensure day-to-day operations of libraries, although they only work during lunch and break times, but has to perform their duties or they will be replaced or fired. In such schools where this is available, many students have the opportunity to become a librarian. However, in some higher education institutions, students can be paid. In other cases, they might be student library aides. [4]

One of the first librarian characters I came across was Hisami Hishishii in R.O.D. the TV. Voiced by Taeko Kawata in Japanese, and by Megan Taylor Harvey in English dub, Hisami is a student librarian. Her character also is, in keeping with how librarians are usually portrayed, quiet, shy, and lover of books. At the same time, she is a friend with the protagonist, Anita King, who she has a crush on. She further has the distinction of being a 13-year-old author as well. Such characters appear as they are in line with preferences of anime viewers who are mostly in high school themselves, meaning that many anime are set in high school, although that doesn’t always limit the storytelling. [5]

Some examples of student librarians in anime
Some examples of student librarians in anime. From left to right: Yamada, Azusa Aoi, Fumi Manjōme, Fumio Murakumi, and Himeko Agari

This contrasts with Yamada in B Gata H Kei. Voiced by Yukari Tamura in Japanese, and Brittney Karbowski in English dub, she goes to a high school in Japan. Using data summarized by the JLA, elementary schools have four times more libraries than high schools, because there are many more elementary schools than junior high schools, middle schools, or special schools. Similarly, Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words, who is voiced by Mayuki Makiguchi, and Fumi Manjōme in Aoi Hana / Sweet Blue Flowers, who is voiced by Ai Takabe, are both student librarians in their respective anime. Additionally, there’s Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta, voiced by Kaori Nazuka, who goes to a high school, and Himeko Agari in Komi Can’t Communicate, voiced by Yukiyo Fujii. If I remember right, Hasegawa Sumika in Bernard-jou Iwaku a.k.a. Miss Bernard said, voiced by Aya Suzaki, is at an elementary school or some school lower than a high school.

Beyond this is Rin Shima in Laid Back-Camp, voiced by Nao Tōyama, Nagisa Yasaka in My Roommate is a Cat (“What Connects Us”), who is voiced by Hisako Tōjō, and Sumireko Sanshokunin a.k.a. “Pansy” in Oresuki, voiced by Haruka Tomatsu. There’s also an unnamed and uncredited librarian in Kin-iro Mosaic aka Kinmoza (“The Girl on My Mind”). In fact, the only male student librarian with a name I know of at present is Yuu Izumi in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie (“Cultural Festival I”). He is voiced by Shūichirō Umeda and he works alongside Kamiya, who is voiced by Ayaka Fukuhara.

There are two or three unnamed librarians in a Revolutionary Girl Utena episode (“The Sunlit Garden – Prelude”). From my current listing of fictional librarians, I’m not aware of any student librarians in Western animation as of yet, apart from the library clerk in The Simpsons episode (“Bart’s Girlfriend”), who is voiced by Hank Azaria. That’s it. Most are much older. Sabine in Sabine; an asexual coming of age story, is a student librarian, but she is in a webcomic and it is unlikely that will become an animation. However, if it does become an animation, she will be the first asexual librarian that I’m aware of in an animated series.

Some student librarians go to special schools. For instance, Chiyo Tsukudate in Strawberry Panic!, voiced by Chiwa Saitō, goes to an elite all-girls school. She goes to St. Miator’s Girls’ Academy, which is affiliated with two other all-girls schools, specifically St. Spica’s Girls’ Institute and St. Lulim’s Girls’ School. Comparably, in Manaria Friends, Anne and Grea go to the Mysteria Academy of Magic. Anne, who is voiced by Yōko Hikasa, and Grea, voiced by Ayaka Fukuhara, both help out in the library during the episode “Hide-and-Seek”. They also serve as library patrons in various other episodes.

There are various characters who are not student librarians, like Lilith in Yamibou, who is voiced by Sanae Kobayashi, an unnamed librarian in a Little Witch Academia episode (“Night Fall”), or characters in Library War like Iku Kasahara and Asako Shibasaki. Furthermore, Sophie Twilight in Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood is a personal librarian and does not go to school. This is just a small listing of those librarians who are not students and are not, as a result, student librarians. [6]

The same can be said for the librarian in the strange first-person series, Makura no Danshi, also known as Makuranodanshi. Although he is apparently a “librarian boy”, he is 28 years old. Named Shirusu Mochizuki and voiced by: Kōsuke Toriumi, he appears in the episode “Librarian Danishi”, talking to the audience while shelving books and waking up a sleeping patron. In a connection to my review of librarians who sleep at the information desk back in January, he declares that naps disturb the other patrons and to not sleep in the library.

He also remembers frequent patrons, sees what people are reading in the library and he says he enjoys selecting books for patrons to read. He later makes an exception for the audience saying to rest there until his shift is over and goes further and declares that the library can become a place of “emotional healing.” That connects, in some way to my next example, this time of a student librarian.

Izumi and Kamiya working in the library together
Izumi and Kamiya working in the library together

One of the more intriguing student librarians I have come across during my anime watching is a blue-haired girl Kamiya, also known as Kamiya-san, in Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie. She is friends with the purple-haired protagonist, Izumi. She is on the library committee and he helps her put away some books, which all have Japanese call numbers. Although she is described as having a “cool but kind exterior,” with male and female fans, along with the ace of the volleyball team, this, and Izumi’s description of her as calm, composed, and pretty, is somewhat thrown into question.

She may be socially awkward as despite her popularity she wants to get away from it all and find a place that is quiet, the library. That is, in fact, how they first met, a year and half before, when she showed him how to enter books and items into the library catalog. At the present, she first tells Izumi he is different because he has a girlfriend, Shikimori, then grills him about it. She becomes impressed with his story and is a bit of a romantic rival to her in more ways than one.

It is later revealed to be a coincidence that both are paired for couples photos for the cultural festival and are on library duty together. In many ways, Kamiya is fulfilling the IFLA/UNESCO School Library Manifesto of 1999 which states that school libraries equip “students with life-long learning skills and develops the imagination, enabling them to live as responsible citizens”, as the skills he learns while working at the library will likely help him in the future.

Then, in the episode “Cultural Festival II”, Izumi and Kamiya are again in the library for library duty while the cultural festival is going on. They both talk about a recent movie they both watched. She has a vision or dream before that, at the beginning of the episode that she is losing Izumi to Shikimori, which makes her sad. While Izumi says he wasn’t expecting a conversation about lost love and expectations with Kamiya, he is glad they are talking about it. Kamiya even has the grace to trade e number with Shikimori so she can be with Izumi during the festival, something she didn’t have to do, but it says a lot about her as a character. As such, she is a librarian character, and so much more, who has a strong supporting role in this anime.

This is in stark contrast to other librarians in anime. Take for example the unnamed student librarians in an episode of Azumanga Daioh (“One Spring Night”). Seen helping patrons at the beginning of the episode while at the information desk, these two librarian aides, one of whom is a woman and the other a man, tell the protagonists, who are studying there, that they are leaving for the day. They ask them to turn off the lights when they leave. While this would be unthinkable for some librarians to ask patrons to close up for them, it is in-keeping with the slice-of-life vibe of the series, which sometimes is a bit chill and at other times wades into surreal comedy. In any event, the protagonists end up turning off the light and leaving before it gets too dark, as they have no reason to stay there and have to get back home.

Joro sitting next to Pansy
Joro sitting next to Pansy at a table in the school library

Diametrically opposed to the previous examples is Sumireko Sanshokunin a.k.a. “Pansy” in Oresuki. Voiced by Haruka Tomatsu, she wears glasses, braids, and has a “sharp tongue,” to say the least. In the first episode, she is described as a quiet and plain library aide by the show’s protagonist, Amatsuyu “Joro” Kisaragi, at first. This is thrown into question when it turns out she has been stalking and watching him, while she holds the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.

The novel is said to be a book defining in the gothic horror genre, while the phrase “Jekyll and Hyde”refers to those who appear outwardly good but are actually shockingly evil. In this episode, she has some of that nature in that she ships a bench Joro had been sitting on to the library and pressures (and manipulates) him to coming to the library every day during lunch after confessing her love to him. He agrees on the proviso that the library is a “secluded” space.

Her actions on the face, violate the Code of Ethics for Librarians outlined by the JLA. In fact, Joro calls her a “demonic stalker” in the next episode. However, she remains aware of everything going on, an helps him out, and is later called, in the episode “I Met You Before” as a “formidable woman”. As rumors swirl across the school about Joro, she uses her role as a student librarian to encourage Oga, a star athlete at the school, to reveal he set up Joro, by convincing two other students, Himawari and Cosmos, that he lied to them. It is then that she reveals to Joro that she is the girl he fell in love with at a baseball game and is only taking on the appearance of a quiet, reserved librarian to hide her true nature from everyone else, especially from a supposed “demon” who is after her.

As the show goes on, the library becomes a place that Joro, and his newfound friends, Cosmos, Himawari, and Oga, study, while Pansy gains new friends of her own. It even becomes a place to whether the crises he weathers, like a libelous article claiming he has three girlfriends written by a jealous reporter, Asunaro. In the meantime, she becomes more comfortable with herself, and a new student even meets everyone in the library.

The “demon” of Pansy is revealed when there is a concerted effort to save the library, in the latter part of the show’s second season, a boy from her previous school, Hose. The school administration declares that there needs to more traffic from people using the library, i.e. more patrons, to prevent it from being closed. This is successful, and the library becomes a social hub for students, but its role as a secluded place is lost. Even so, more students means she can more effectively serve library patrons and beats an attempt to impede library activities, standing against the JLA’s statement on intellectual freedom in libraries which was last revised in 1979.

It turns out that Hose once had a crush on her in middle school, and he will stop at nothing to make her his, with two girls almost serving as his lackeys. This means she changed her appearance in order to avoid a possessive man who still loved her. Ultimately, Hose loses a bet with Joro, and Pansy says they can keep meeting in the school library, saying she still loves Joro, despite the fact she calls him “industrial waste” after he asked Pansy, Cosmos, and Himawari to be his girlfriends. The latter is seemingly a plea to get Pansy to have more friends, showing he cares about others beyond himself, at least in this case, even though he is generally a despicable character.

Library in Seitokai Yakuindomo
As of the writing of this post, I have not yet watched Seitokai Yakuindomo, the screenshot of which is shown above, but according to the fandom page, in this series the library is a “popular place during exam season” and many characters hang out there.

What Pansy experienced is not at all surprising considering there are reports of people sexually molesting girls in Japanese libraries, which are known as toshoshitsu in Japanese, ongoing sex-child prostitution involving high school girls, and sexual assault of schoolgirls on public transit. On a non-terrifying and disturbing note, there’s also a dedication to the privacy of library users, in line with the JLA’s statement I mentioned earlier, saying that it isn’t right if “people cannot use a library free from anxiety.”

Topics in libraries in Japan are organized by subject and letter, along with reference and foreign language books. What’s in the library would differ depending on whether the library is in a preschool, elementary, junior high, or high school. Furthermore the fact that attendance is almost universal with no absences, the education is intense, rules for uniforms are strict, students clean the bathrooms, classrooms, and cafeterias of their schools, and balanced meals provided in schools undoubtedly influence library environments in schools. [7]

There are other libraries in Japan too, beyond those in schools. This includes the National Diet Library, which made an appearance in R.O.D. the TV, the National Film Center Library, Automobile Library, Asia Library, Japan Aeronautic Association Aviation Library, an anime library, a manga library, and the related Diplomatic Archives and National Archives of Japan, to name a few. There’s also, apart from the ALA, the Japan Association of National University Libraries, Japan Special Libraries Association, and Japan Society of Library and Information Science. There’s even overnight libraries which are styled after remolded traditional homes which can be used by students as a place to study after school or relax. At one time they were even lending libraries at hospitals, library festivals in some places in Japan, and books just devoted to autobiographies. [8]

More broadly, there are libraries in “nearly every town and neighborhood in Japan,” meaning that is common to see people during their commutes or outside reading books and other materials. These libraries are “cultural facilities for the dissemination of knowledge” in Japan, sometimes having unique designs, water fountains, and library committees (at least in schools) where students are assigned library duties. Due to this role, it is no surprise that many libraries in the country prohibit photography. [9]

All of these libraries in Japan is not much of a surprise. After all, in Japan, having “harmonious relations with others” with reciprocity and fulling social obligations is more important than a relationship someone has to a so-called “higher power”. As such, order, harmony, and self-development underlie much of Japanese social interaction, which is why substitutes are rarely used, lunches are eaten in classrooms, and summer break is only 5 weeks long. Some schools even have classes on Saturday and there are various student clubs. Most also walk or bike to school if the distance isn’t that long. [10]

The fact that many Japanese librarians in anime are schoolgirls is in line with the audience of such animated series and likely current dynamics in school itself. Japan is a patriarchal society where men are portrayed  to be the leaders and not in “feminized” professions like librarianship, with more men in the workforce, for all professions, than women. This is happening while Japan’s society is greying with an estimated 40% of the population to be elderly by 2060. [11] In the end, there will continue to be Japanese librarians in school environments going forward, a trend which isn’t going to end anytime soon.

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Teachers who are part of the JLA are part of its School Library Division. There are also divisions for public libraries, university libraries, junior college libraries, special libraries, and education. There are also committees and working groups which focus on, according to the JLA, “library policies, library management, copyright, intellectual freedom, bibliography, preservation and conservation, services for the handicapped, publications, library services for children and young adults, international relations, etc.” A June 2020 article in Nippon also stated that the number of libraries in Japan is increasing.

[2] “Standards for the 21st Century Learner,” American Association of School Librarians (AASL), 2007; “Frequently Asked Questions.” American Library Association, May 12, 2008; “School Library Campaign.” American Library Association,” November 23, 2008;  Morris, Betty J. Administering the school library media center (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited), 2013, p.32; “Student Learning through Ohio School Libraries : The Ohio Research Study.” Ohio Educational Library Media Association, Feb. 21, 2004; Lonsdale, Michele. Impact of School Libaries in Student Achievement.” Australian School Library Association, 2003. Also see AASL position statements.

[3] Morris 2004; De las Casas, Dianne. (2010). “Tag! you’re it!”: playing on the digital playground. Knowledge Quest, 39(1), 80-82; “School Library Handbook.” The Wyoming State Library, Jun. 6, 2021; Thomas, Margie J. and Patsy H. Perritt. “A Higher Standard: Many states have recently revised their certification requirements for school librarians.” School Library Journal, Dec. 1, 2003; “School Libraries & Education.” American Library Association, accessed June 4, 2022; “Strong School Libraries Build Strong Students.” AASL, 2013. Also see some sources listed on the School library Wikipedia page.

[4] “Student librarians.” National Library of New Zealand. Accessed June 5, 2022; “School student librarians.” St. Augustine’s CE High School. Accessed June 5, 2022; “2019-2020 Student Librarians.” Ilako Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Librarians.” Co-Op Academy Walkden. Accessed June 5, 2022; Slater, Lewis. “The Student Librarians.” Unity College, Jun. 1, 2019; “Student Librarians.” Tarlton Law Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Librarians Update Library.” Cambian University, Apr. 3, 2022; “Librarians for First-Year Students.” Harvard Library. Accessed June 5, 2022; Pollock, Natasha. “Student Librarians: Contributors in Our Learning Community.” Books Are Just the Beginning, Feb. 14, 2017; “Student Librarians.” Kettering Science Academy. Accessed June 5, 2022; Onwubiko, Emmanuel Chidiadi. “An Assessment of the Effect of Self-efficacy, Reading Culture, Utilization of Library Habits on the Academic Achievements of Student-librarians.” Library Philosophy and Practice, May 2022; “History.” Board Of Student Librarians. Methodist’ Boys School Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 23, 2010; Heraper, Sue. “Managing a Successful Student Library Aide Program.” Student Library Aide. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Student Library Aide.” Mississippi Department of Education. Accessed June 5, 2022.

[5] Kemner, Louis. “25 Best High School Anime, Ranked.” CBR, May 15, 2022.

[6] Others include Aruto, Iina, Kokoro in Kokoro Toshokan a.k.a. Kokoro Library, Hamyuts Meseta, Mirepoc Finedel, Noloty Malche, Ireia Kitty, Mattalast Ballory, Volken Macmani, Ruruta Coozancoona, Mokkania Fluru, Fhotona Badgammon, and Makia Dekishart in Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra, Isomura in Let’s Make a Mug Too episode (“The Garden of Sky and Wind”), unnamed librarian in Akebi’s Sailor Uniform episode (“There’s No School Tomorrow, Right?”), unnamed/uncredited librarian in Gabriel DropOut (“Fun Forever After…”), four unnamed/uncredited librarians in Cardcaptor Sakura episode (“Sakura and the Summer Holiday Homework”), and two librarians in Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai (“My Senpai is a Bunny Girl”), Atsushi Dojo, Mikihisa Komaki, Hikaru Tezuka, Ryusuke Genda, and Kazuichi Inamine in Library War, and Riichi Miura in The Ancient Magus Bride: Those Awaiting a Star.

[7] “Man arrested for sexually molesting junior high school girl in library.”  JapanToday, Oct. 19, 2021; “Japanese Vocabulary – School Rooms.” PuniPuni, accessed June 4, 2022; “Statement on Intellectual Freedom in Libraries.” Japan Library Association, 1979; “Japanese School System.” Education in Japan, accessed June 4, 2022; “Explore Japan: Schools.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks, accessed June 4, 2022; Dom Alex, “Japanese High School Library Tour,” YouTube, Feb. 6, 2016; xxDotheMonkeyDancexx. “RYE Japan #30 – school library.” YouTube, May 16, 2013; Schaub, Michael. “Haruki Murakami’s library list is published, and Japanese librarians are up in arms.” LA Times, Dec. 5, 2015; Fifield, Anna. “For vulnerable high school girls in Japan, a culture of “dates” with older men.” The Denver Post, May 16, 2017, reprinted from The Washington Post; Ripley, Will. “Fascination with Japanese schoolgirl culture hiding a darker side?CNN, Dec. 27, 2015; Ekin, Annette. “Sexual assault in Japan: ‘Every girl was a victim’.” Al-Jazeera, Mar. 8, 2017. Also see the Wikipedia page “Education in Japan” for more information.

[8] “Libraries & Archives: National & Administrative Libraries.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Libraries & Archives: Library Associations.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Libraries & Archives: Libraries in Specific Fields.” JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “What’s Cool: Sleeping Surrounded by Books – Bookstores and Libraries that Double as Accommodation.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Reading for All: “Barrier-Free” Picture Books for Children.” Trends in Japan, Dec. 9, 2002; “Library Festival.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Accessed June 5, 2022; “This is My Life: Young and Old Producing Autobiographies.” Trends in Japan, Sept. 22, 2000; “What’s Cool: Suginami Animation Museum.” KidsWebJapan. JapanLinks. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Apr. 2005; “Exploring the History of Manga.” Trends in Japan, Jan. 22, 2007. The National Diet Library is said to have more books (and presumably materials) than any other library in Japan.

[9] “Japan in Photos – Japan Celebrates Reading Week.” Japan Up Close. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, Dec. 1, 2021; “Seaside Momochi: Waterfront Development for a Multimedia Society.” JapanAtlas. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Japan’s Blue Created With Indigo Dye.” Trends in Japan, Jan. 2014; “In the Morning.” KidsWebJapan. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Special Feature on Schools in Japan: Classroom Duties.” WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Jan. 2021; “Feeling Like a Protagonist on Location.” Trends in Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Japan, Land of Water.” niponica, no. 15, 2015.

[10] “Values and Beliefs” within Japan: A Country Study (Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress, 1994, ed Ronald E. Dolan and Robert L. Worden), reprinted on; “Explore Japan: Schools.” KidsWebJapan. WebJapan. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; Freeman, Ellen. “9 Ways Japanese Schools Are Different From American Schools.” Mental Floss, Dec. 18, 2015; “Japanese Educational System.” Japan Educational Travel.” Accessed June 5, 2022;  Johnson, Marcia L. and Jeffrey R. Johnson, “Daily Life in Japanese High Schools.” ERIC Digest, Oct. 1996. School cleaning by students is intended to make students responsible for their surroundings, although there are cleaning staff as well. Also see Nishioka, Kanae. “Historical overview of curriculum organization” in Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment in Japan: Beyond Lesson Study (ed. Koji Tanaka, Kanae Nishioka and Terumasa Ishii, New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 11-27; Tokyo Five. “13 Ways Japanese Schools Are Different From American Ones.” Business Insider, Jul 17, 2014; “Top Performing Countries: Japan.” NCEE. Accessed June 5, 2022; Ooman, Emily Joy. “10 Facts About Education in Japan.” The Borgen Project, May 20, 2020; Mandrapa, Nebojsa. “Interesting Facts about Japanese School System.” Novak Djokovic Foundation, Mar. 11, 2015; Abe, Namiko. “The Japanese Education System.” ThoughtCo, Sept. 8, 2018; “Japanese high-school students.” Contents Library. Japan Foundation. Accessed June 5, 2022.

[11] “Labor force in Japan from 1973 to 2021 by gender.” Statista, Feb, 2022; “Labor force, female (% of total labor force) – Japan.” WorldBank, Feb. 8, 2022; “Labour force participation rate by sex and age (%) – Annual.” ILOSTAT Explorer, 2021; “Country Profiles.” ILOSTAT. International Labour Organization, select “Japan” from drop-down menu; “Labor force, total – Japan.” WorldBank, Feb. 8, 2022; “Japanese Workforce Statistics 2022: Digging Into the Labor Market of Japan.” TeamStage. Accessed June 5, 2022; “Demographic Change in Japan.” Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan. Accessed June 5, 2022; “How Japan can take the lead with an ageing workforce.” World Economic Forum, May 8, 2019. Recent statistics from the Statistics Bureau of Japan (see table 1 on this page) show more women working in the education field than men. Furthermore, e-Stat shows 144,000 men and 201,000 women working in education learning support in Japan in 2021, 136,000 women and 99,000 men working in school education in 2021. The same chart shows that 22,000 men and 12,000 women work in video picture, sound information, character information production, and distribution in 2021, which I’m assuming is referring to anime production. There does not appear to be a category for libraries, unlike the BLS in the U.S. Also see the badly sourced and poorly maintained “Labor market of Japan” page on Wikipedia for further information.

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!

academic libraries Black people fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums romance speculative fiction

Real-life Black librarians who should also be in fiction

On the left is part of the cover of a current bestselling bookThe Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict (a White woman) and Victoria Christopher Murray (a Black woman) about a Black female librarian, Belle da Costa Greene, who passes as White. On the right is an actual image of Greene from Your Black World.]

Diversity has oft been a challenge in the library profession. It is even the subject of a little edited Wikipedia page entitled “Diversity in librarianship.” Currently, not even 6% of credentialed librarians are Black, with almost 16 times more White librarians having credentials than Black people. Even when other metrics are used, Black people are clearly under-represented, although there is a gap of U.S. between U.S.-born Latine people, Blacks, Whites, and immigrant Latines. Furthermore, there is a lack of Black librarians dating back to 1930s, with some arguing that Black people were relegated to inferior schools, and inadequate preparation for higher education. Others have stated that the library profession itself is racially constructed, with Black people having “perilous, uneven, or vulnerable education”. [1]

This reality is manifested in the various real-life Black librarians, like Clara Hayden, the current Librarian of Congress. However, too few of them are in popular culture. As such, there are a number of these librarians in real life who should also be in fiction. As I wrote in June of last year, there should be more librarians, especially Black librarians, who criticize DDC and LCCO for being racist, like Reanna Esmail, a outreach and engagement librarian at Olin Library at Cornell University. Itheorized that this could be the case because either many of the librarians are White or that the writers are White and “don’t think about these issues.” With that being said, this post focuses on eleven Black librarians which should be in pop culture, either comics, animation, films, or any other medium.

The first of those librarians is Belle da Costa Greene. She is known due to a historical fiction by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray, entitled The Personal Librarian, which is about her professional and personal life as the librarian of J.P. Morgan. She has attracted some controversy, as she spent her professional career while passing as a White person. [2] Even so, considering that romantic drama films like Passing, centered on two Black women who pass as White, are popular, The Personal Librarian, or stories about other librarians who are Black but pass as White might move into another form in the future. After all, the 1929 book of the same name is by Nella Larsen. She was a Black woman who worked as a librarian at the New York Public Library (NYPL), from 1921 to 1925, at the Harlem branch, according to pages 8-9 of George Hutchinson’s 2006 biography, In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line. There are many films, novels, music, and TV shows, which feature characters who are passing. [3] With growing interest and attention toward racial justice, racism, and Black nationalism, a White-passing character might fit with what some directors are going for. So, who knows, maybe there will be a White-passing librarian in animation in the future.

On the other hand, others may decide that instead of choosing a mixed-race character, they will chose someone different. That could lead to a focus on more prominent real-life librarians like the founder of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), E.J. Josey. He was even described as one of the “pioneering” Black librarians in the U.S., founding BCALA in 1970 around the same time that REFORMA, Asian American Library Caucus, and American Indian Library Association came into existence. [4] With characters like Mr. Anderson in The Public, it is just the right time to have a film, novel, or some other form of pop culture about him.

The same can be said for Clara Stanton Jones, the first Black president of the ALA. She was also key in pushing for segregation of libraries and improving library culture by pushing for the passage of an ALA “Resolution on Racism and Sexism Awareness.” [5] Clearly ahead of her time, especially in the latter. Relatively similar, in terms of her leadership role, was Effie Lee Morris (not to be confused with children’s librarian Effie Lee Newsome). She served as the first Black president of the Public Library Association, and is known for her role in helping library services for visually impaired people and people of color. During her career, she worked at Cleveland Public Library, New York Public Library, an San Francisco Public Library. [6]

three real-life Black librarians
Photographs of, from left to right, Edward C. Williams (via Case Western University), Jessie Carney Smith (via Fisk University), and Eliza Atkins Gleason (via UC Berkeley School of Information)

Surely there were record-setting librarians like Edward C. Williams, an early Black librarian, who joined the ALA in 1896, Fisk University librarian Jessie Carney Smith, who worked at the university beginning in 1965, or Eliza Atkins Gleason, the first Black person to earn a doctorate of library science from the University of Chicago in 1940. She is known for her 1941 book which pioneered Black library history, entitled The Southern Negro and the Public Library: A Study of the Government and Administration of Public Library Service to Negroes in the South. On a related noted were books by Josey, like his famous 1970 book, The Black Librarian in America, its 1994 follow-up, The Black Librarian in America Revisited, his 1972 book, What Black Librarians Have to Say, and the Handbook of Black Librarianship, a book he co-edited with Marva Deloch. This, and other books, like the 2012 book, The 21st-Century Black Librarian in America: Issues and Challenges (edited by Andrew P. Jackson, Julius Jefferson, Jr., and Akilah S. Nosakhere), Renate L. Chancellor’s 2019 book, E.J. Josey: Transformational Leader of the Modern Library, and the Aisha M. Johnson-Jones’ 2019 history, The African American Struggle for Library Equality were pointed out by BCALA in a 2018 call for abstracts. [7]

In addition to Williams, Smith, and Gleason, there’s Virginia Lacy Jones. She is said to be the second Black person to earn a library science doctorate, who went on to be dean of the Atlanta University School of Library Service from 1945 to 1982, overseeing the “training of approximately 1800 black librarians,” during her time at the university. Just as important is Catherine Latimer, the first Black librarian of the New York Public Library, who began working there in 1921, beginning at the Harlem branch. She was even defended by W.E.B. DuBois, when a supervisor tried to demote her.

Latimer would later describe, in letters to DuBois, the “acts of prejudice against her, specifically by white librarians”. Even so, she would still re-catalog items about the African diaspora so it was “actually accessible to researchers,” clip files on topics covering the Black experience and turn “those clipping files into scrapbooks.” She collected works of great Harlem Renaissance writers, oversaw the Division of Negro Literature and History, worked with researchers, and created a black poetry index with Dorothy B. Porter, a fellow Black librarian at Howard University. [8] She additionally was Instrumental in founding the NYPL Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints.

The latter brings me to Porter. I wrote about her briefly in June of last year, noting that she pushed aside the Dewey Decimal System by classifying works by author and genre to highlight the “foundational role of black people in all subject areas” which included religion, communications, art, economics, demography, music, political science, linguistics, and sociology. This was all part of a classification system which challenged racism on its head, centering works about and by Black people within scholarship.

Her work helped build the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, which is now one of the most comprehensive, and largest, collections of Black history in the world. She followed in the footsteps of Vivian Gordon Harsh, first Black librarian for the Chicago Public Library, beginning work there in 1909, a system she continued to work within until 1958. Harsh passionately collected works by Black people, setting the precedent for others to follow. [9]

Dorothy Porter at her desk
Porter at work at her desk in the Moorland Room in the 1940s (image via page 4 of the article “Scarupa: The Energy-Charged Life Of Dorothy Porter Wesley“). Some said this image was in 1939, but I’m sticking with the date given in the original source. Porter later took on the name Dorothy Louise Porter Wesley. In 1952, her husband, James Amos Porter, painted a portrait of her, which was gifted to the National Portrait Gallery by Porter herself.

The fact that neither Latimer, Porter, or Harsh has been portrayed in any fictional form, to my knowledge, is a shame. It is further unfortunate, considering that Williams wrote a fictional novel entitled When Washington Was in Vogue: A Love Story in the 1920s which “portrays the 1920s African-American high society of which he was a part”. Considering the issues around gender and racial bias, the division between African and Black communities, the fact that some librarians have community service (or adventure) motives, or that many Black people work in multicultural environments, all of these could be adapted into fictional worlds. [10]

The same could be said about accurately showing how microaggressions toward Black librarians are rooted in historical racial stereotypes, how these microaggressions manifest themselves, either in rejection/dismissal of professional experience, hateful/ignorant comments. This is only heightened by separation from other communities, like Asian communities, mistrust of those outside the Black community by Black people, vulnerability and anxiousness inside the community, and the idea of racial realism. The latter is defined by Derrick Bell as the idea that Black people, and people of color, recognize and understand the systemic combination of racism and white racial framing in society. [11]

Such characters may not be appearing for one simple reason: racism. The latter is already an impediment to Black mobility and is so systemic that society would have to be “fundamentally changed” for the racism to be removed. As such, more people of color may realize they need to advance and protect their interests, rather than thinking that society will remedy injustice and inequality, and realizing that struggle for freedom is manifestation of humanity that grows stronger through resilience to oppression. However, these efforts can easily be blunted by nepotism and racial discrimination. [12] Such creators may be stymied, and held back by others. Or, they may be a lower level, and others may stop them there. As such, depictions which show that Black librarians have different experiences than others may never come to fruition in the first place. [13]

These experiences have been manifested in some fiction, which I’ve highlighted this month, either looking at librarians in animation, TV series, or films. There’s also Kimberly Garrett Brown’s 2022 novel, Cora’s Kitchen, which focuses on a 35-year-old Black librarian at the Harlem branch of the New York Public Library, and is encouraged by Langston Hughes to write poetry. Sadly, she ends up leaving her job so she can become a cook at White woman’s home. Other characters include Queenie, a Black packhorse librarian who moved to Philadelphia in Kim Michele Robinson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. These and other characters may agree with what Stacie Williams, a librarian/activist/writer, said, that she tended to “eschew the idea of neutrality because nothing about my lived experience, as a black librarian, is neutral.” Other books which appear to include libraries, librarians, or library themes include The Camel Bookmobile, Large Print: An Unshelved Collection, Murder by Page One, ChangesSay You Need Me, and The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries to name a few books found on a listing on Alibris for “Afro American librarians”. [14]

Fictional librarians, who are Black, are important considering the critical role that Black librarians have in the communities they serve. This is valuable considering the smaller number of credentialed librarians who are Black, and an even smaller group who are Black men. As Library of Congress researcher Julius Jefferson put it, “whatever you want to do in life, there’s a librarian behind that.” There needs to be more Black librarians in real life and in fiction, whether they are part of the ALA’s Spectrum Scholarship program or not. [15]

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Walker, Shaundra. “Critical Race Theory and the Recruitment, Retention and Promotion of a Librarian of Color: A Counterstory” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 135, 140, 142-4; “Librarian Demographics and Statistics In The US,” Zippia, accessed May 28, 2022; “University Librarian Demographics and Statistics In The US,” Zippia, accessed May 28, 2022; Sokanu, “Librarian demographics in the United States,” CareerExplorer, accessed May 28, 2022; Brown, Anna and Mark Hugo Lopez. “Public Libraries and Hispanics.” Pew Research Center, Mar. 17, 2015. There is also a listing of BIPOC resources for Children’s, MG, and Young Adult books, authors, and industry professionals by Melanin in YA, Edith Bazile’s article entitled “The lens of whiteness won’t close gaps in BPS”, La Loria Konata’s publication entitled “Looking Through a Colored Lens: A Black Librarian’s Narrative“,  Diane Patrick’s “Developing Collections ‘By Any Means Necessary’” in Publisher Weekly, and Haillie Parker and Allie Barton’s “Invisible Chapters: Writing Tucson’s Black community into the stories of libraries, bookstores and publishing” in Tuscon Weekly. Additional stories of note include Ann Althouse’s “The black female librarian introvert at the 5-day conference” blogpost, kYmberly Keeton’s “A Personal Assessment: The African-American Librarian in the 21st Century” post, Dr. Nicole A. Cooke’s post on the Black Librarians Project on the LHRT NEWS AND NOTES site, which highlights Black librarians such as Regina Anderson Andrews (librarian between 1921 and 1966), Florence E. Borders (librarian in 1940s), Virgia Brocks-Shedd, Mary Rayford Collins, Adelina Coppin Alvarado, Katie Hart, Anita Hemmings [passed as White, with her descendants not knowing she was Black until 1990s], Julie Hunter, Latanya Jenkins, Mexico Mickelbury, Grace Lee Mims, Reynolda Motley, Beverly Murphy, Nancy Mildred Harper Nilon, Charlotte Shuster Price, Pauline Short Robinson, Effie Stroud Frazier, Thelma Horn Tate, and Bertha Pleasant Williams. Others pointed to librarian Augusta Baker.

[2] See, for example, Bates, Karen Grigsby. “J.P. Morgan’s Personal Librarian Was A Black Woman. This Is Her Story.” NPR, Jul. 4, 2021; Napp, Francky. “She Was a Black Librarian Who Could Equal America’s Most Powerful Man,” Messy Nessy, Jun. 3, 2020; Scutts, Joanna. “The Mysterious Woman Behind J.P. Morgan’s Library,” Time, May 17, 2016; McAlpin, Heller. “J.P. Morgan’s librarian hid her race. A novel imagines the toll on her.” Christian Science Monitor, Jun. 29, 2021. There are many other sources listed on her Wikipedia page, for those more interested in her story, which is ripe to be used in fictional narrative beyond The Personal Librarian.

[3] While there are many examples listed on the “Passing (racial identity)” Wikipedia page, I’m most familiar with Melvin Van Peebles’s 1970 film Watermelon Man (which is still a great classic film, by the way), and think that the 1960 film I Passed for White could be interesting.

[4] Smith, Katisha. “13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta Know.” Book Riot, May 8, 2020; “About BCALA,” Black Caucus of the American Library Association, accessed May 29, 2022;  Walker, “Critical Race Theory and the Recruitment, Retention and Promotion of a Librarian of Color,” 136.

[5] Smith, 13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta Know.”

[6] Ibid; Landgraf, Greg. “Blazing Trails: Pioneering African-American librarians share their stories.” American Libraries, Jan. 2, 2018.

[7] Also see The Black Librarian in America: Reflections, Resistance, and Reawakening by Shauntee Burns-Simpson, Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian by Ethelene Whitmire, The Dismissal of Miss Ruth Brown: Civil Rights, Censorship, and the American Library by Louise S. Robbins, Black Librarians Matter 2022 (on Amazon) by MS Swazino Publishing, Proud Black Librarians (on Amazon) by MS Swazino Publishing, The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism by Wayne and Shirley Wiegand, the Black librarians Instagram account, African American Librarians in the Far West: Pioneers and Trailblazers which is edited by Binnie Tate Wilkin, Stop Talking, Start Doing!: Attracting People of Color to the Library Profession by Gregory L Reese and Ernestine L Hawkins, Carla Hayden: Librarian of Congress by Kate Moening, Underground: From Deadbeat to Dean: A Memoir by Peter MacDonald, An Independent Woman: The Autobiography of Edith Guerrier by Edith Guerrier, Molly Matson, and Polly Kaufman, and Johnnie E. Blunt’s The Professional Life of an African American Male Librarian blogspot. Anna Gooding-Call of Book Riot added that the “library profession is extremely white….even some of the few books about librarians of color were written by white authors,” noting that Jackson, Jefferson, and Nosakhere attempt to “add diversity to librarian narratives with these excellent essays by African American library professionals.” See an interview with the authors of The Desegregation of Public Libraries in the Jim Crow South: Civil Rights and Local Activism here.

[8] “HISTORY: Pioneering African-American Librarians Share Their Stories,” Good Black News, Jan. 22, 2018; Smith, 13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta Know”; Betit, Jessica. “In Celebration of Black History Month: Black American Librarians.” Gardiner Public Library, Feb. 1, 2022. Betit also lists Thomas Fountain Blue (first Black person to head a public library in the U.S.), Jean Ellen Coleman (founding director of ALA’s Office of Outreach Services), Virginia Procter Powell Florence (first Black woman to earn a library science degree, in 1923). Also see 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.

[9] Nunes, Zita Christina. “Cataloging Black Knowledge.” Perspectives on History. American Historical Association, Nov. 20, 2018; “Dorothy B. Porter, A Library Hero.” New-York Historical Society Museum & Library, Apr. 8, 2021; Taylor, Mildred Europa. “Dorothy Porter, the librarian who stood up against racism in Howard University’s library.” Face2Face Africa, Sept. 23, 2021; Grossman, Ron. “Flashback: A heroine to history: Vivian Harsh, Chicago’s first black librarian, preserved black history, literature with massive collection.” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 31, 2020; Smith, 13 Pioneering Black American Librarians You Oughta Know.” Other prominent Black librarians include the late Miriam Matthews, the first Black librarian hired by the Los Angeles Public Library in 1927,  who created a research collection documenting contributions of Black people, city librarian Minnie Fisher (not to be confused with suffragist Minnie Fisher Cunningham) in Mound Bayou, Mississippi, and Nella Larsen Imes as the first Black librarian employed by New York City and later a librarian, from 1921 to 1926. These individuals are noted by the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and KCET. Matthews is briefly mentioned in Jennifer Velez’s article in Bustle entitled “How Afro-Latinx People Made Huge Contributions To Black History — Then Got Erased” and there is a further article on JSTOR entitled “Investing in Literature: Ernestine Rose and the Harlem Branch Public Library of the 1920s“.

[10] Nosakhere, Akilah Shukura. “Serving With a Sense of Purpose: A Black Woman Librarian in Rural New Mexico” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 161-3, 169, 170; “WHEN WASHINGTON WAS IN VOGUE: A Love Story,” Publishers Weekly, accessed May 29, 2022.

[11] Nosakhere, “Serving With a Sense of Purpose,” 180, 180-1; Vince Lee, “Like a Fish Out of Water, But Forging My Own Path” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 190, 193; Hankins, Rebecca. “Racial Realism of Foolish Optimism: An African American Muslim Woman in the Field” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 209, 211; Hankins, Rebecca and Miguel Juarez, “Introduction” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 5.

[12] Hankins, “Racial Realism of Foolish Optimism”, 211-212; Barksdale-Hall, Roland. “Building Dialogic Bridges to Diversity: Are We There Yet?” in Where Are All The Librarians of Color?: The Experiences of People of Color (ed. Rebecca Hankins and Miguel Juarez, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA, 2015), 272-80.

[13] Barksdale-Hall, “Building Dialogic Bridges to Diversity,” 288-9.

[14] Other books, which I’m not sure if they have Black librarians or not, include Just Like Beverly, Super-Duper LibrarianAmber By Night, and Librarian’s Night Before Christmas, and The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries Omnibus 2. For sources for this section, see “Inanna Fall 2022,” Inanna Publications & Education Inc., p. 3; Baker, Dee. “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.” Bookconscious, Jun. 5, 2021; Potkovic, Athena. “Library Neutrality,” CCP Journal, Apr. 10, 2018; Williams, Stacie. “Librarians in the 21st Century: It Is Becoming Impossible to Remain Neutral.” Lit Hub, May 4, 2017; ALA Support. “Equity in Librarianship in ALA Collections.” American Library Association, accessed May 29, 2022. There are additional Black writers who are librarians, like Alechia Dow, possibly Daren a.k.a. the Dope Librarian, a librarian who hosts the Adventures in YA podcast, and Alexander “Alex” Brown who is a queer Black librarian, writer, and local history, as noted by FIYAHCON 2021 and BuzzFeed News, who tweets on Twitter @QueenofRats. Of note is also Librarians in Fiction: A Critical Bibliography by Grant Burns and Aboriginal and Visible Minority Librarians: Oral Histories from Canada edited by Deborah Lee and Mahalakshmi Kumaran.

[15] Contreras, Natalia E. “‘Must reflect the communities we serve’: The critical role that Black librarians play.” Indianapolis Star, Aug. 12, 2021; “‘Endangered Species’: Black Male Librarian,” NPR, Jun. 27, 2008; Cooper, Breanna. “New essay collection celebrates Black librarians.” Indianapolis Recorder, Feb. 24, 2022; “About Us,” National Conference of African American Librarians, accessed May 29, 2022; , Maya. “Why Aren’t There More Black Librarians?” Word in Black, Feb. 10, 2022; Hodge, Twanna. “On Being Black in Librarianship.” I Love Libraries, Jul 15, 2020; “Pre-Lit Fest 2022: The Black Librarian in America,” #StayHappening, Jun. 2022.

action adventure Black people fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries live-action Movies Pop culture mediums public libraries romance speculative fiction

A place of honor?: Examining two Black reel librarians

In 1961, a Black reel librarian appeared in the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s. In later years, acclaimed actors, and others, would play Black librarians  in Men of Honor, A Winter’s Romance, Dangerous Minds, It: Chapter Two, Escape from Alcatraz, The Manchurian Candidate, Follow the Stars Home, Fatal Attraction, Party Girl, and The Time Machine, and in the series, Stephen King’s It. There are even Black records clerks in Winter’s Tale and BlacKkKlansman. Additionally, there have been plotlines in Lovecraft Country and Hidden Figures which feature segregated libraries, and Black librarians in the case of the former but not the latter. [1] On her site, Reel Librarians, Jennifer Snoek-Brown counted less than 30 librarians who are Black or of African descent. Apart from the films I’ve listed previously, there are a number of librarians who only have supporting or cameo roles. These roles date back to 1953, which she states is the first Black reel librarian she can find, and go up to 2019. [2] Having written about Mr. Anderson, in The Public, on this blog in the past, for this post, I’d like to focus on librarians in The Time Machine and All the President’s Men. Neither have not been featured on this blog before this post, and expand the total of Black librarians I’ve listed on this blog.

Unnamed Black male librarian in All The President’s Men before he gives them the checkout slips. The whole scene can be watched here.

In the classic 1976 political thriller, All the President’s Men, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein travel to the Library of Congress after their research seems to be stalled and having a librarian have a strange conversation with one them. They go to one librarian, who declares that the records they want are confidential, and that he can’t fulfill their request of library card checkout slips since July 1971. The other, the image of which is shown above, fulfills their request. Voiced by Jaye Stewart, he tells them “I’m not sure you want ’em, but I’ve got ’em.”

Woodward and Bernstein proceed to go through perhaps thousands of check-out slips in the Reading Room of the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, the work is for naught, as it doesn’t confirm if a White House staffer checked out books on Ted Kennedy.Later, however, they find a wind to confirm the information. Snoek-Brown did an in-depth look at the film, saying that while she was happy that a librarian had a “friendly” face on screen, that it is not ethical to “give out checkout slips or records without a court order” as librarians have an “obligation to protect the privacy rights of our patrons.” [3]

I agree with Snoek-Brown entirely on that point. On the other hand, I am glad that a Black librarian has such a vital role in the story. Snoek-Brown herself has called the scene “pivotal” as this librarian is the only one who gives them a helping hand, giving them the request circulation records, although another unnamed one gives help later in the film. The information he gives pushes the reporters down a “successful trail” and toward uncovering the Watergate story. [4]

The 2002 sci-fi film, The Time Machine, a remake of the 1960 film of the same name, is completely different. It features a librarian of the future named Vox, who is played by Orlando Jones. He is a hologram and an information provider, serving as heart and soul of the film, in Snoek-Brown’s words. He has a timeless style and has a wealth of knowledge, providing information to a wayward inventor, who travels hundreds of thousands of years into the future, about time travel, history, and evolution of the planet and its population. He is able to do this as the compendium of all human knowledge. [5] He is the equivalent of MENTOR, the supercomputer in the comedy mini-series, The Pentaverate, but in a more appealing and less awful nature.

Vox tries to get the attention of Dr. Alexander Hartdegen in a scene from the film. The whole scene can be found here.

Interestingly, even though the film is about time travel, he never goes anywhere. He remains, as Snoek-Brown put it, the “sole, stationary witness to the continuous collapse and rebuilding of civilizations throughout centuries.” As such he is a quintessential information provider and arguably the “holographic heart” of the film. He does this while being a fully-fledged supporting character, in one of the many sci-fi/library crossover films where a futuristic information source provides “library-style information.” [6]

Unlike the unnamed Black librarian in All the President’s Men, he is not alive. He is a hologram, a librarian who can go anywhere, but is likely tied to the library servers for his survival. His existence implies that a Black programmer made him that way and even that he was based off an actual Black men. What White programmer would create an intelligent Black man? More likely, they would create a White man, with their racial biases and prejudice bleeding through into their thinking.

Beyond this, Vox has been described as a library computer system, a “ virtual reality librarian” or a “computer-generated librarian” in the words of his voice actor. It has also been said that his character makes it “easier to find the information you need at the touch of a button,” as a person tied to the world’s databases, artificial intelligence, and a data retrieval system. It is further said that his interactions imply that “human” interaction “will still be required.” Some call him a database hologram “with attitude” who is sarcastic and spirited. [7] He fulfills what TV Tropes describes as the Projected Man.

As some have argued that being a librarian is “something of honor for the African American community,” these fictional librarians are important. After all, there is a continued need in popular culture not only for more librarians, but more librarians of color, and need to avoid a single story for reel librarians or any fictional librarians. [8]

© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Current Oscar nominees who have played reel librarians.” Reel Librarians, Mar. 23, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “31 thoughts and questions I had while watching ‘A Winter Romance’ (2021).” Reel Librarians, Dec. 22, 2021; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Research and high school library scenes in ‘Dangerous Minds’.” Reel Librarians, Sept. 9, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Class III (minor roles).” Reel Librarians, accessed May 28, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Class I (major roles, integral).” Reel Librarians, accessed May 28, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Class II (major roles, non-integral).” Reel Librarians, accessed May 28, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “A research quest in ‘Winter’s Tale’ (2014) + how to tell the difference between microfilm vs. microfiche.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 9, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles.” Reel Librarians, Jul. 8, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Library research montage in ‘The Manchurian Candidate’ (2004) remake.” Reel Librarians, Apr. 8, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films.” Reel Librarians, Mar. 11, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Law librarian sighting in ‘Fatal Attraction’.” Reel Librarians, Dec. 11, 2019; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “First impressions: ‘It: Chapter Two’ (2019) and the town librarian hero.” Reel Librarians, Oct. 9, 2019; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Graduate library school discussion in ‘Party Girl’.” Reel Librarians, May 22, 2019; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “First impressions: ‘BlacKkKlansman’ (2018).” Reel Librarians, Nov. 7, 2018; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “First impressions: ‘It’ (2017) and its library scene.” Reel Librarians, Oct. 10, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Revisiting reel librarian totals.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 2, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Scary clowns + reel librarians.” Reel Librarians, Oct. 12, 2016; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “‘Spotlight’-ing a news library.” Reel Librarians, May 4, 2016; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Meet Hannah in ‘Follow the Stars Home’.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 12, 2015; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “‘South Street’ librarian.” Reel Librarians, Sept. 10, 2014; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “‘Somewhere’ in the library.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 4, 2014; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “A not-so-enchanting librarian in ‘Ella Enchanted’.” Reel Librarians, Apr. 10, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “A tale of seven shushes in ‘City Slickers II’.” Reel Librarians, Jan. 9, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Best librarian films by decade, Part II: 1960s-2000s.” Reel Librarians, Dec. 30, 2011; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “With or without honors.” Reel Librarians, Dec. 26, 2011; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Lovecraft Country’s ‘A History of Violence’ and segregated libraries.” Reel Librarians, Nov. 10, 2021; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “A closer look at the library scene in ‘Hidden Figures’ (2016).” Reel Librarians, Mar. 10, 2021; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “First impressions: ‘Hidden Figures’ and its library scene.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 15, 2017; Rampell, Ed. “TCM Classic Filmfest wrapup: Hooray for Hollywood!People’s World, Apr. 18, 2019.

[2] This includes Jaye Loft-Lyn as a microfilm library clerk in Pickup on South Street (1953), Jaye Stewart as a librarian in All the President’s Men (1976), Noreen Walker as a public librarian in Somewhere in Time (1980), an uncredited Black male shelver in Fatal Attraction (1987), an uncredited Black male shelver in City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold (1994), an uncredited Black female librarian in With Honors (1994), Jeff Feringa as a school librarian in Dangerous Minds (1995), C. Francis Blackchild as Wanda and L. B. Williams as Howard who are both public librarians in Party Girl (1995), Mary Alice as a children’s librarian in Bed of Roses (1996), Dolores Mitchell as a research librarian in Autumn in New York (2000), Demene E. Hall as Mrs. Biddle in Men of Honor (2000), Octavia Spencer as a public librarian named Hildy in Follow the Stars Home (2001), Ronald William Lawrence as a library clerk in The Ring (2002), Lynette DuPree as a public librarian in Back When We Were Grownups (2004), Merrina Millsapp as a Hall of Records attendant in Ella Enchanted (2004), Duana Butler as a library clerk in The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Norm Lewis as a newspaper librarian in Winter’s Tale (2014), Zarrin Darnell-Martin as a newspaper librarian in Spotlight (2015), and Jeffrey Wright as a head public librarian named Mr. Anderson in The Public (2018).

[3] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “All the president’s librarians in ‘All the President’s Men’.” Reel Librarians, Mar. 1, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Law librarian sighting in ‘The Pelican Brief’.” Reel Librarians, Jul. 24, 2019.

[4] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Favorite reel librarian posts, 2017.” Reel Librarians, Jan. 10, 2018; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “All the president’s librarians in ‘All the President’s Men’.” Reel Librarians, Mar. 1, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Any reel librarians in the AFI Top 100 list?Reel Librarians, May 17, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians in political-themed films.” Reel Librarians, Jan. 18, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Heard but not seen.” Reel Librarians, Sept. 2, 2015; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Information Provider librarians.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 24, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer, “Class III (minor roles)” [All the President’s Men section], Reel Librarians, accessed May 28, 2022. It is also one of the films that Snoek-Brown covered in her undergraduate thesis on libraries in popular culture.

[5] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians of color, 2021 update.” Reel Librarians, Jan. 27, 2021; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Stylish male reel librarians.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 3, 2016; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Character Types [see Information Provider (all genders) section],” Reel Librarians, accessed on May 28, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer, “Class III (minor roles)” [The Time Machine section], Reel Librarians, accessed May 28, 2022; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “5 movies featuring Black reel librarians in major roles.” Reel Librarians, Jul. 8, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Revisiting reel librarian totals.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 2, 2017; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Information Provider librarians.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 24, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians and archivists in 16 sci-fi films.” Reel Librarians, Mar. 11, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians vs. reel archivists.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 1, 2018; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Actors.” Reel Librarians, accessed on May 28, 2022.

[6] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel librarians take a trip.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 5, 2015; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Travelin’ librarians.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 17, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reel Substance: A look at Classes III and IV.” Reel Librarians, Jun. 17, 2015; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Reader Q and A.” Reel Librarians, Jun. 18, 2013; Goodfellow, Tom. “In the eye of the survivor.” Reel Librarians, Aug. 28, 2012; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Hall of Fame.” Reel Librarians, Oct. 5, 2011; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Master List of English-Language Films.” Reel Librarians, accessed on May 28, 2022.

[7]  The Time Machine Wiki. “Vox.” Last revised Sept. 5, 2021; Teacher’s Notes on The Time Machine, Film Education, accessed May 28, 2022, p. 10; Emma Smart and Sarah Currant. “The 10 best librarians on screen.” BFI, Feb. 5, 2016; “The Time Machine,” screenit, Mar. 8, 2002; Bourne, Mark. “A Time Machine (2002).” DVD Journal, 2002; Laura and Robin. “The Time Machine.” Reeling Reviews, accessed May 28, 2022; Fuches, Cynthia. “The Time Machine (2002).” Pop Matters, Mar. 7, 2002; Weinkauf, Gregory. “Future Shock.” Riverfront Times, Mar. 6, 2002; McCarthy, Todd. “The Time Machine.” Variety, Mar. 7, 2002; “Cultural Images of Librarians,” Clubul Tinerilor Bibliotecari, Feb. 2011; Tucker, Betty Jo. “Time Travel Wins Again.” Reel Talk Movie Reviews, accessed May 28, 2022; Young, M. Joseph. “The Time Machine,” Temporal Anomalies in Time Travel Movies, accessed May 28, 2022. Reportedly Brown said “I play the role of Vox in this film and Vox is a third generation fusion-powered photonic with verbal and visual link capabilities connected to every database in the planet. Now, what does that mean? What that means is that Vox is basically a computer-generated librarian.”

[8] Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Video lecture: ‘The African American Struggle for Library Equality: The Untold Story of the Julius Rosenwald Fund Library Program’.” Reel Librarians, Feb. 24, 2021; Rosenberg, Rachel. “Why Aren’t There More Librarians in Pop Culture?Book Riot, Mar. 2, 2020; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “‘The danger of a single story’ for reel librarians.” Reel Librarians, Nov. 2, 2016.

animation anime Comics fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries Movies Pop culture mediums romance school libraries speculative fiction

Recently added titles (January 2023)

Yumi, in episode 6 of Maria Watches Over Us, tells Yoshina she came to the library to get a book on Rosa catina, but does not know the student librarian she talked to was actually Rosa Catina herself, the “enemy” of the student council!

Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of 2022, 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, whether in graphic novels or webcomics, 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

None for this month.

Anime series recently added to this page

  • Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro, “Senpai, don’t you ever get angry?”
  • Maria Watches Over Us, “Rosa Canina”
  • Maria Watches Over Us, “White Pedals”
  • Maria Watches Over Us, “The Yellow Rose at Full Tilt”
  • Maria Watches Over Us, “Codename Operation OK”
  • Maria Watches Over Us, “Crisscross”
  • Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka, “The Magical Girl Comes Back”
  • Ouran High School Host Club, “Starting Today You Are A Host”
  • Ouran High School Host Club, “The Job of a High School Host!”

Comics recently added to this page

  • Anemone in Heat, “Chapter 8”
  • Can’t Defy The Lonely Girl, “Chapter 3”
  • Diamond Dive, “Winter Special Part 2”
  • Daybreak, “Episode 39”
  • Fuwafuwa Futashika Yume Mitai
  • Glass Case, “Aires”
  • Glass Case, “Circinus”
  • Glass Case, “Sagitta”
  • Glass Case, “Fornax”
  • Glass Case, “Caelum”
  • Glass Case, “Mensa”
  • Glass Case, “Apus”
  • Glass Case, “Pisces”
  • Glass Case, “Virgo”
  • Glass Case, “Capricornus”
  • Glass Case, “Cancer”
  • Glass Case, “Cetus”
  • Glass Case, “Chamaeleon”
  • Glass Case, “Aquarius”
  • Glass Case, “Corvus”
  • Glass Case, “Equuleus”
  • Glass Case, “Triangulum”
  • Glass Case, “Microscopium”
  • Glass Case, “Canes Venatici”
  • Glass Case, “Grus”
  • Himawari-San
  • I Kissed a Succubus aka Watashi wa Succubus to Kiss o Shita 
  • Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo
  • Kimi to Tsuzuru Utakata
  • My Masochistic Boss, “[S2] 8 – Different Worlds”
  • Nuku Nuku Toshoiin aka Snuggly Librarian 
  • Shitsurakuen aka Lost Paradise 
  • The Caged Bird Sings Themes of Love aka Kago no Shoujo wa Koi wo suru 
  • The Girlfriend Project
  • Vampire-chan x Junior-chan aka Kyuuketsuki-chan to Kouhai-chan 
  • Yuri Hime Collection 
  • Yuri Shimai

Films recently added to this page

  • x

Other entries recently added to this page

  • Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk [Video game]
  • Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea [Video game]
  • BanG Dream! [Music media franchise]
  • Conflict Girl [Visual novel]
  • ~Daydream Reconstruct~ [Visual novel]
  • Flowers [Visual novel]
  • Hanidebi! Honey & Devil [Visual novel]
  • Kamitsure [Visual novel]
  • Kohonya [Visual novel]
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers [Anime TV series]
  • Man’in Chijo Densha 2 [Visual novel]
  • Once on a Windswept Night [Visual novel]
  • Please Be Happy [Visual novel]
  • Sakura Sadist [Visual novel]
  • Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo [Visual novel]
  • Touhou Project [Video game]

© 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 animated animation anime comic books Comics drama fantasy Fiction genres French people Japanese people Librarians Libraries magic libraries Movies Pop culture mediums public libraries religious libraries romance special libraries speculative fiction underfunded libraries Video games White people

Beauty, dress codes, and fashion: Examining twenty fictional White female librarians

In her 2018 In the Library with the Lead Pipe article, “Vocational Awe and Librarianship: The Lies We Tell Ourselves,” Fobazi Ettarh rightly points out that “librarianship is dominated by white women,” noting the history of White women in the profession due to their characteristics, the fact that libraries have been “complicit in the production and maintenance of white privilege,” how these librarians participated in “selective immigrant assimilation and Americanization programs,” and that librarianship “plays a role in creating and sustaining hegemonic values,” while contributing to a culture of white supremacy like other institutions. She further asserts that depictions of libraries as “places of freedoms” like intellectual freedom, freedom of access, education, and more “do not elide libraries’ white supremacy culture with its built-in disparity and oppression,” adding that values that librarianship builds itself upon is “inequitably distributed amongst society.” She gives the example of segregation of public libraries in the U.S. South, desegregation efforts of those libraries,with access to materials “often implicated in larger societal systems of (in)equality.” She also pointed to libraries gathering “large amounts of patron data in order to demonstrate worth” or can “operate as an arm of the state” by working with library vendors which work with government entities.

I could easily build off every single one of her points in a long and drawn out post. Instead, in this post, I will examine over 20 White female librarians across various animated series and how these fictional depictions are emblematic of the overwhelming Whiteness in librarianship. More directly I’ll look at what this means when it comes to appearance, fashion, and standards imposed on librarians by Whiteness itself. Simply put, Whiteness is a socially constructed classification which conveys certain privileges, comforts, and advantages that those who not White do not enjoy automatically. It ends up setting the standard for reality and normality itself. Any deviations are seen as subversions, offenses, disruptions, or disturbances, policing its borders in a literal and figurative way. It can sometimes operate in hidden ways at different strata within library profession, while remaining multidimensional. [1]

I’ll start with Kaisa, who is one of the most prominent librarians in animation to date, in the series Hilda. [2] As librarian and library instructor Gina Schlesselman-Tarango put it, library professionals often navigate White grooming and beauty standards, while people of color are policed within library spaces. Librarian Jessica Macias added that librarians often face dress and grooming codes. It is something which women of color doesn’t always fit into, feeling alienated and different. Macias argued that these unwritten codes ban so-called “distracting” and “unnatural” hairstyles, unkempt clothing, hygiene, and hair. She, along with April Hathcock and Stephanie Sendaula adds that this is restrictive for people of color, facing implicit barriers, claims of unprofessionalism, and the idea that librarians of color are not librarians, as perceived by fellow patrons and librarians. [3]

Four screenshots spliced together in order to show Kaisa’s librarian outfit during the course of the first two seasons of the series

Her unique appearance fits within White beauty standards, even though she is casually gothic and witchy. In the series, she wears a gray sweater, grey leggings, black skirt, black cloak, and white blouse. She often wears black-grey headphones attached to a media player. Librarians are often shown wearing skirts, cardigans, while others have been more stylish with dresses, cardigans, sweaters, tights, and coats. [4] While Kaisa has her own unique style it fits within those standards. It fits with her calm personality, although she can be strict at enforcing rules, or even stern. At other times, she can be secretive and soft-spoken, but has an ability to know what people are looking for. Undoubtedly, this leads to certain insecurities, and feeling like an outcast, despite the fact she can be nice, supporting Hilda, Frida or David in their tasks throughout the series.

Although Kaisa is perhaps the prominent librarian character in an animated series in recent years, there are other librarians which fit the White standards of appearance. These same standards, of course, exclude and restrict librarians of color, as Macias pointed out. [5] Other fictional librarians dress even more conservatively, even if their style is not as distinctive as the one that Kaisa has in Hilda. This includes the curmudgeon librarian in the DC Super Hero Girls episode “#SoulSisters Part 2.” She wears horn-rimmed glasses, a hair bun, a whitish high collar, cuffed sleeves, and a bluish dress of some kind, I believe. She fully fits the spinster librarian stereotype as outlined by Jennifer Snoek-Brown on her blog, Reel Librarians.

The same can be said for the Violet Stanhope, the librarian ghost in an episode of Archie’s Weird Mysteries (“The Haunting of Riverdale“), Francis Clara Censorsdoll in multiple episodes of the mature animated series Moral Orel, Mrs. Higgins in a Sofia the First episode (“The Princess Test”), and Rita Book in a Timon & Pumbaa episode (“Library Brouhaha“). All of these librarians are dressed in a “proper” way and well-groomed, even if not all of them conduct themselves professionally. What I mean is that Francis burns books she doesn’t like and Rita demands total quiet, while Violet and Mr. Higgins are more helpful. The latter two characters fulfill what the UMW Libraries called “quality service, positive attitude, good patron relations, and pleasing personal appearance.” The clothing of the characters, is in line with existing library dress codes that ban shorts, halter tops / tank tops, flip flops, backless shoes, ill-fitting clothing, or t-shirts with writing / slogans, no bare shoulders, no or few face piercings, no denim pants, and no torn jeans. It often goes beyond what could be called “business casual” ins some contexts. [6]

Apart from the above-mentioned older librarians, there are some librarians who have a bit more style. This includes the unnamed librarian in a Steven Universe episode (“Buddy’s Book”), one of the protagonists of I Lost My Body, an animated film set in France, Gabrielle, and Marion the Librarian in various episodes of Hanny Manny. The most casual of these is the Steven Universe librarian who is shown wearing what looks like a green cardigan and glasses, with a green undershirt of some kind shown in the comics. However, she may be more casual in the comics than in the animated series, as she could be wearing a collared shirt in the episode, as shown below:

Her style is in line with librarians who say [7] that they wear cardigans, black dress pants, oxford shirts, dressy shoes, casual pants, slacks, blouses, sweaters, button downs, leggings, tights, and skirts. I haven’t seen any fictional librarians in dresses that I can recall, however nor in sundresses, jumpers, t-shirts, shirt and tie, khakis, with tattoos or with piercings. It is likely that the Buddwick Public Library in Beach City has a business-professional dress code that prohibits shorts, sneakers, t-shirts with writing, backless shoes, and blue jeans. We can’t know for sure, because we never see the librarian, or any other librarians, outside of their work behind the information desk. [8]

Compare the unnamed librarian in Steven Universe to Gabrielle in I Lost My Body and Marion the Librarian in Hanny Manny. Both characters wear business casual more than casual, looking comfortable in their workplaces while they look professional. However, it is unlikely that either of them have “highly regularized” librarian dress, but rather that there are continuing struggles over what it means to “dress professionally” in their jobs. Even so neither are wearing t-shirts, jeans, gym shoes, jeans, or even open-toed shoes in line with varied dress codes, or anything similar to the variety of adorable outfits out there which are inspired by librarians. Instead, they have a practical, curated, and straightforward style, likely recognizing that what you wear has a “lot to do with identity” even if they aren’t aware of the cultural stereotypes out there of librarians. [9]

There are other librarians who have style, even if in a more “traditional” way. This includes elderly librarians enforcing rules, like the librarian in Uncle Grandpa episode (“Back to the Library”), Miss Dickens in Carl Squared episode (“Carl’s Techno-Jinx”), Ms. Hatchet in Kim Possible episode (“Overdue”), Mrs. Shusher in an episode of The Replacements (“Quiet Riot“), and the unnamed librarian in a few episodes of Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil. The same can be said for the stickler librarian in an episode of Rugrats, Ms. L in an episode of Dexter’s Laboratory (“Book ‘Em“) and the briefly appearing librarian in an episode of Martin Mystery (“Return of the Dark Druid“). [10] What they are wearing is reflect of what Brytani of The Intrepid Nerd pointed out: that often librarians are portrayed in fashion catalogs, Pinterest, and elsewhere with “vintage looks.” This includes dresses or skirts, sweaters / cardigans / blazers, “smart” shoes, and glasses. She concluded that people give librarian’s this look because there is “something nostalgic about reading books” and working somewhere that is full of them, or a more disturbing conclusion: that people dress librarians this way “because they think the career is outdated.” Hopefully, the creators of Uncle Grandpa, Carl Squared, Kim Possible, The Replacements, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Rugrats, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Martin Mystery don’t think this way about librarians.

This dress doesn’t take away from the fact that the librarian in Uncle Grandpa and the librarian in Rugrats are super kind [11] even though they are dressing conservatively. This is in contrast to the sadistic Ms. Hatchet in Kim Possible and the unnamed librarian in Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil or the strict shushing librarians Mrs. Shusher in The Replacements, Miss Dickens in Carl Squared, Ms. L in Dexter’s Laboratory, and a librarian in Martin Mystery. What they all have in common is what they are wearing fulfills what eHow has called the “classic librarian costume,” admitting it goes along with the librarian stereotype. [12] At the same time, how they dress may be about appearing professional and some of those libraries may even have formal dress codes.

Screenshots taken from fandom gallery of “Through the Looking Glass Ruins” episode of The Owl House; a Dutch nun in 1992 and a Hungarian priest in 1935

Even more simplified is Amity Blight in The Owl House, who is directly shown as a librarian in the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins”. As she travels into a dangerous/forbidden section of the library to help her friend Luz Noceda, she wears a library employee card in a lanyard around her neck, a black short sleeve dress, black point shoes, and orchid leggings. In the episode, she ties up her hair in a typical librarian style, as shown in the image above. She looks similar to those working in religious libraries, especially a nun or even a priest.

When I saw what she was wearing, it immediately make of something religious. Wearing the color black can express self-confidence, sensitivity, an attempt to impress someone, could indicate someone has a rebellious nature that doesn’t accept authority, exudes a person’s feelings of power and influence, and building walls to protect themselves. It doesn’t necessarily make you “part of a suspicious sect” or anything like that. Rather, wearing black-colored clothes can be classy, mysterious, or distinguished. More specifically, some have argued that wearing black can be slimming, elegant, sexy, chic, or even overbearing and evil. Most of the positive qualities are the reasons that Amity is watching it, as the wearing black-colored clothes can signal “a desire to reclaim one’s power.” [13]

Inter-related with this is the fact that librarian and library perform a specific role “in the language of fashion,” employed in phrases like librarian chic, conjuring imperatives and fantasies on librarians, their labor, and recognition. This centers “class-privileged white women” as the stewards of librarianship and space of the library itself. Furthermore, cuteness can compel viewers to place value on what is cute, worthy to be desired, protected, and cared for. As such, if Whiteness is seen as cute, it is devoid of its “power to inflict violence” and is not threatening. The latter is the case with Amity, as often seen by fans, as she is clearly attractive, delightful, appealing, or even clever and mentally keen, and is White. [14] In that sense, the styles of Amity and Kaisa are somewhat similar.

Amity is also a lesbian, something which I mentioned back in October. Like everyone else, lesbians internalize societal standards of appearance and weight, even though they were more critical of “traditional social norms” when it came to roles and rights of women. A large number saw physical attractiveness as “important in a partner,” even though such attractiveness was functional rather than a concern for looks like straight women. Not surprisingly, there is even a fashion style known as “lesbian chic.” [15] Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, archivist at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, argued that librarians are marginal due to enduring values just as lesbians are marginal, noted that lesbian is a sexual orientation and a “constructed political identity.” She also said that all lesbians may not be “equipped to be librarians” with a lesbian “subject specialty.” [16] Amity may not have that specialty, nor may she know nothing about lesbian herstory, lesbian separatism, or lesbian feminism, but she would provide service of a high caliber to patrons and fight lesbian erasure at the same time.

Like Amity, other librarians also have their own style. This includes Mo Testa in Dykes to Watch Out For, public librarian Myra in The Public, Sabine in Sabine: an asexual coming-of-age story, Desiree, Sara, and Sarah, her two work colleagues. The latter three characters are in Too Loud, an animated web series. Starting with Mo, a lesbian feminist and reference librarian, is described as a “worrier and kvetch extraordinaire” on the comic’s official website, she has a “penchant for striped clothing” just like the comic’s author, Alison Bechdel. This means that Mo is falling into the style of being “overly conventional,” and not as colorful as, let’s say, drag queens. [17] The same can be said about what Desiree, Sara and Sarah wear while working at the library. Their clothes falls into typical wear like cardigans, dresses, brown pants, and sensible shoes. However, when Desiree finally dresses up in more girly clothes during the episode “Slumber Party,” it makes clear what the now defunct Misfit Librarian’s Style Catalog blog tried to prove: that librarians are stylish people despite some a perception of the opposite. [18]

Myra and Sabine also wear simple clothes, but nothing that could be called “dated” or “conservative”. Sabine, even more than Myra, exudes a level of coolness as she is also a student as well as a part-time librarian at the college library. This is something that even the New York Times recognized years ago, noting that emergence of hip and cool librarians in a profession described as “nerdy” and a haven for “left-wing social engagement.” More than any of the other librarians in this post, Sabine is more trendy and fashionable, although not as dedicated to fashion trends as those like Sam, Alex, and Clover in Totally Spies! to give three examples. Very few of the librarians I’ve described in this post are those are either wear hair in a bun, wear glasses, or a cardigan, with librarians getting a bad rap for the latter. [19] Rather they tend toward being more stylish, especially in terms of Amity, who dyes her hair green (her original hair color is brown) and later lilac, and Kaisa, who has put purple streaks in her black hair.

Three screenshots of the unnamed librarian in the Totally Spies! episode. The last one is after she starts to become buff.

There are some exceptions, however. For instance, the librarian in Totally Spies episode (“Totally Switched”), who becomes “way buff,” as I wrote about back in March when I rewatched the episode. She wears a blazer, a collared shirt, has on glasses, and has her hair in a bun. This similar to how The images of librarians in cinema 1917-1999 displays librarians, or smocks worn by New Zealand librarians into the 1980s, while some librarians adopted corporate uniforms or t-shirts. [20] This unnamed librarian, likely voiced by Janice Kawaye, has an even more professional outfit. She doesn’t wear anything that invokes the problematic and is not a degrading sexy librarian stereotype. In her own way, she is classy and chic, or even cool. If she was an actual librarian, she would be among those which author and photographer Kyle Cassidy profiled in his 2014 photo-essay “This is What A Librarian Looks Like” for Slate magazine. [21]

Of the librarians I’ve named in this article, arguably the unnamed librarians in Rugrats, Uncle Grandpa, DC Super Hero Girls, and Kick Buttoswki all could be considered spinster librarians of some type, using the definition Snoek-Brown outlines. The same could be said for Violet Stanhhope, Mrs. Higgins, Rita Book, Miss Dickens, Ms. Hatchet, Mrs. Shusher, and Ms. L. Contrasting this would be Kaisa, Gabrielle, Marion the Librarian, Amity, Mo, Myra, Sabine, Desiree, Sara, Sarah, and even the unnamed librarians in Martin Mystery, Steven Universe, and Totally Spies!, who are all information providers. Most extreme is Francis Clara Censordoll, who is not anti-social, a failure, naughty, comic relief, or liberated. She is the librarian-censor. Some might say she is the anti-librarian since she stands against everything that librarians seem to stand for. However, as Matthew Noe, the ALA GNCRT President, pointed out in March, it is going to be hard “to put a stop to this massive censorship lobby harassing libraries and schools when we can’t even convince all library workers to stop doing censorship.”

On a stylistic note, some of these librarians have an aristocratic style, along with avant-garde and celtic styles. I haven’t seen any librarians with art deco, art nouveau, beach bum, beatnik, biker, black loli, babushka bois, bohemian, equestrian, flapper, heavy metal, hippie, hipster, punk, retro / vintage, surf, to name a few styles. Characters like Malkuth in the Library Of Ruina, a simulation game that followed the 2008 game Lobotomy Corporation would fall into the aristocratic and possibly avant-garde styles. I also haven’t seen any military librarians. The closest I’ve come to that are the characters in Library War. Such librarians would likely be bound, if they were in the U.S., by very specific grooming and personal appearance standards. [22]

Those librarians who work in public spaces, especially, would likely be pushed to accept the idea that you need to “dress for success” either with business casual or casual attire which is “smart.” This would be reinforced by the common perception in Western society that conflates appearance and health, affecting women, and leading to potential harm. This is made worse by the fact that unattractiveness leads to negative judgment from people. Such negativity can cause isolation, dieting, and emotional distress. Appearance, for humans, is “one of the most direct sources of information about other people.” In workplaces, there are additional stresses, like so-called “common standards of professional appearance,” which look down upon those with visible piercing and tattoos. This is obviously interlinked with the “societally sanctioned standards of appearance.” [23]

There are many librarian styles. Whether they are depicted in pop culture matters since real-life librarians exist and embody those styles. Furthermore, whether librarian styles in real-life translate over to pop culture, in animation, anime, comics, or elsewhere, is anyone’s guess.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] 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. ix; Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, “Introduction” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 2; 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. 83.

[2] I am putting aside the librarian in Futurama episode (“The Day the Earth Stood Stupid”), Librarian in Zevo-3 episode (“Zevo-3”), Librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“Return of the Dark Druid”), Librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“The Warlock Returns”), Librarian in Martin Mystery episode (“Return of the Dark Druid”), Librarian in Amphibia episode (“True Colors”), Librarian in Beavis and Butt-Head episode (“Cyber-Butt”), Librarian in Bob’s Burgers episode (“Y Tu Ga-Ga Tina Tambien”), Arlene in Phineas & Ferb episode (“Phineas and Ferb’s Quantum Boogaloo”), Librarian in Phineas & Ferb episode (“The Doonkelberry Imperative”), Librarian in The Flintstones episode (“The Hit Songwriter”), Librarian in The Owl House episode (“Lost in Language”), Unnamed librarian in Sofia the First episode (“Forever Royal”?), Librarian in Sarah and Duck episode (“Lost Librarian”), Librarian in Boyfriends, Lara in Action Comics, The Librarian in Detective Comics, Rupert Giles in Giles: Girl Blue, Skeezix in Guillotine Public Library, Barbara Gordon in Huntress: Year One, Ghost in Library Ghost, Crawley in Library of Ruins, Librarian in Meau!, Rabbi Rava in Monolith, Marten Reed in Questionable Content, Claire in Questionable Content, Rex Libris in Rex Libris, Suzie in Sex Criminals, Prysia in Smitty and Majesty, Lazurus Luca in Sword & Sphere, Daniel in The Library, Jane Case / Wonder Woman in Wonder Woman, as they either have minor roles or I haven’t read the comics enough to cover them here.

[3] Jessica Macias, “Looking the Part” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 113-5; Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, “Introduction” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 5; April M. Hathcock and Stephanie Sendaula, “Mapping Whiteness at the Reference Desk” in Topographies of Whiteness: Mapping Whiteness in Library and Information Science (ed. Gina Schlesselman-Tarango, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2017), p. 254-5.

[4] See Jennifer Snoek-Brown’s “Librarian action figure,” “Christmas with a reel librarian in ‘My Side of the Mountain’,” and “Stylish female reel librarians” for instance.

[5] Macias, “Looking the Part,” 118.

[6] “Dress Code,” UMW Libraries Public Services, accessed Mar. 15 2022; “Dress Code Policy…,” Adventures of a Misfit Librarian, Oct. 26, 2010; Comments on “Dress Codes” discussion on /r/librarians in May 2014; Comments on “Does your library have a dress code for librarians, aides, etc.?” discussion on /r/librarians in September 2014.

[7] See Comments on “Dress Codes” discussion on /r/librarians in May 2014 and Comments on “Does your library have a dress code for librarians, aides, etc.?” discussion on /r/librarians in September 2014.

[8] Alexa Newman, “Workplace Dress Codes – Does Your Library Have One?,” ALSC Blog, Dec. 28, 2017.

[9] , “How should I dress for a library job?,”, Dec. 19, 2019; Ruthann Robson, “Dress Code for Librarians,” Dressing Constitutionally, Jun. 7, 2013; Lisa Knasiak, “Dress Codes at the Library,” Public Libraries Online, Sept. 14, 2015; “The Ladies Of A Beautiful Mess Love Libraries…,” Misfit Librarian’s Style Catalog, Mar. 17, 2012; “Sister Style: Library Inspired,” A Beautiful Mess, Mar. 8, 2012; “Dotty The Librarian From Little Chief Honeybee…,” Misfit Librarian’s Style Catalog, Sept. 6, 2011; Kaelab Beauregarde, “Dotty the Librarian,” The Charming Life, Sept. 2011; “Library Date Dress From A Beautiful Mess…,” Misfit Librarian’s Style Catalog, Aug. 22, 2011; “The Library Date Dress: 3 Ways To Wear It,” A Beautiful Mess, Aug. 22, 2011; Molly Wetta, “What makes a work wardrobe?,” Librarian Style, Jun. 1, 2021.

[10] I can’t get a photograph as of now, but Ms. Herrera in the same Archie’s Weird Mysteries episode as Violet might be another character.

[11] These words are used by Angeline to describe her work outfit on her June 2011 post “The librarian ‘do [outfit]” on her blog The New Professional.

[12] Rachel Sawaya, “Ideas for a Librarian Costume,” eHow, accessed Mar. 15, 2022. They specifically outline options that follow the librarian stereotype, including, “a pencil skirt…for women…a pair of dark, formal slacks for men….a crisp, pale, high-necked blouse or collared shirt…[or] a dark vest with buttons..a tie or bowtie…for men. A plain silk scarf…for women. [or] a classic cardigan…stockings or pantyhose for women. [or] plain, dark leather shoes or ankle boots.” They also say that “classic items” include spectacles with thin rims, a small pile of books, hollowing out an old book, and “literary-themed accessories.”

[13] Here is What Wearing Black Says About You (and the 5 most common personality traits of these people),” iheartintelligence, May 28, 2020; Cassandra Sethi, “How to Wear Black,” ehow, Feb. 21, 2022; Ada Polla, “5 Rules for Wearing All Black Clothing,” HuffPost, Dec. 6, 2017; “What does black clothing symbolize?,” Colorbux, access date March 22, 2022; Cameron Wolf, “Study Confirms That Wearing Black Clothing Makes You Appear More Attractive, Intelligent, and Confident,” Complex, Aug. 28, 2015; bethany, “In Defense of Wearing All-Black,” College Fashion, Jan. 31, 2019; Ellie Krupnick, “14 Reasons Black Is The Only Color Worth Wearing,” HuffPost, Dec. 6, 2017; Brianna West, “The Psychological Reason Some Women Love Wearing All Black,” Thought Catalog, Jan. 30, 2022.

[14] 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. 122, 132; “Cute,”, accessed March 22, 2022.

[15] Karen Heffernan, “Lesbians and the Internalization of Societal Standards of Weight and Appearance” [Abstract], Journal of Lesbian Studies, Vol. 3, No. 4, Oct. 12, 2008; “How to Dress Lesbian Chic,” Wikihow, Jan. 31, 2022.

[16]  Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, “Lesbian Librarianship for All: A Manifesto” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 298-299, 301, 304. I’m not even getting into the somewhat problematic and strange idea that all librarians can be “lesbian librarians” even those who aren’t lesbian. I think she just chose the wrong term for it. Maybe “social justice librarian” or something like that would have been better.

[17] “Cast Biographies,” Dykes to Watch Out For Official Website, accessed March 22, 2022; Janine Utell, “The Comics of Alison Bechdel: From the Outside In,” University Press Scholarship Online, Sept. 2020; Michael Rhode, “Alison Bechdel at Politics and Prose bookstore,” May 4, 2012, Wikimedia Commons; Elizabeth Fernandez, “It’s just a drag, darling, but this is a big election,” F.M.I.: Female Mimics International, Vol. 20, No. 1, #57, 1990, p. 41. My favorite part of this quote was this: “Other critics offer a more unusual complaint: The contest has become overly conventional. Candidates nowadays resemble librarians more than drag queens, some say.” It made me laugh a lot as it says a lot about what people see as librarians.

[18] Molly Wetta, “What makes a work wardrobe?,” Librarian Style, Jun. 1, 2021.

[19] “Bookworms’ backs up,” Sunday Star Times, Jan. 31, 2009; Kara Jesella, “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers,” New York Times, Jul. 8, 2007; Brytani, “A Study of Librarian Fashion,” The Intrepid Nerd, Oct. 6, 2011; Heather Slania, “Welcome to the Librarian Fashion blog!,” Librarian Fashion, Mar. 22, 2011. Slania is now the Director of the Decker Library at MICA and was formerly the Director of the Library at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

[20] “Library fashion slideshow,” New Zealand History, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, accessed Mar. 22, 2022; The Sassy Librarian has a tag on their website with stylish librarian outfits; Roberta, “Rounding Up,” The Chic Librarian, Oct. 18, 2013. Wikihow has a whole article entitled “How to Wear the Sexy Librarian Look” in which they describe it as “playing on the idea of a quiet library with a quiet librarian” with clothes like: “partially unbuttoned shirts, dark stockings, sexy heels, and red lipstick.” A perfect example of this is a cutaway gag of a librarian in a Family Guy episode where the librarian tries to act sexy but the man looks away.

[21] Kyle Cassidy, “About,” This is What a Librarian Looks Like, accessed Mar. 22, 2022; Jordan G. Teicher, “This Is What a Librarian Looks Like,” Slate, Feb. 11, 2014. There is also a Tumblr which ran from 2010 to 2020 which smashed stereotypes about what librarians wear, called “Librarian Wardrobe.”

[22] “Personal Appearance: Beards and mustaches in the US Navy,” Naval History and Heritage Command, May 7, 1963; Devon Suits, “Army announces new grooming, appearance standards,” Army News Service, Jan. 28, 2021.

[23] “Dress for Success,” Harvard University Facility of Arts and Sciences, Office of Career Services, accessed Mar. 22, 2022; Helen Monks, Leesa Costello, Julie Dare, and Elizabeth Reid Boyd (2021), “‘We’re Continually Comparing Ourselves to Something’: Navigating Body Image, Media, and Social Media Ideals at the Nexus of Appearance, Health, and Wellness” [Abstract], Sex Roles, 84, 221-237; Atefeh Yazdanparast Ardestani, “The Quest for Perfect Appearance: an Examination of the Role of Objective Self-awareness Theory and Emotions” [Summary], Aug. 2012, UNT Digital Library; D.J. Williams., Jeremy Thomas, and Candace Christensen, “‘You Need to Cover Your Tattoos!’: Reconsidering Standards of Professional Appearance in Social Work” [Abstract], Social Work, Volume 59, Issue 4, October 2014, Pages 373–375; Leslie J. Heinberg, J. Kevin Thompson, and Susan Stormer, “Development and validation of the sociocultural attitudes towards appearance questionnaire” [Abstract], International Journal of Eating Disorders, Jan. 1995; Oleg O. Bilukha and Virginia Utermohlen, “Internalization of Western standards of appearance, body dissatisfaction and dieting in urban educated Ukrainian females” [Abstract], European Eating Disorders Review, Dec. 21, 2001.

animation anime comedy Comics fantasy Fiction genres Movies Pop culture mediums romance slice-of-life speculative fiction

Recently added titles (October 2022)

Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September 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 films with libraries this past month, but I did come across a good deal in comics, whether in webcomics or anime.

Animated series recently added to this page

  • The Owl House, “Thanks to Them”

Anime series recently added to this page

  • Bibliophile Princess, “Phony Fiancé”
  • Bibliophile Princess, “One-Woman Show”
  • Bibliophile Princess, “And So the Two…”
  • Bibliophile Princess, “The Star Traveler”
  • Encouragement to Climb: Next Summit, “1st Season: Spring”

Comics recently added to this page

  • Daybreak, “Episode 12”
  • I Don’t Want To Go Back, “Chapter 10 – A Dream Of The Past (part 4)”
  • Jamie, “Page 30”
  • Smity and Majesty, “Episode 95”
  • Nevermore, “Episode 36”
  • What are the Chances, “49.1 Nap (2)”
  • What are the Chances, “49.2 Team Effort”
  • What are the Chances, “50.1 Just One Time”
  • Zatanna & the Ripper, “Ep. 16 – Draw Me A Cube”
  • Zatanna & the Ripper, “Ep. 14 – A Book About Jac”

Films recently added to this page

  • The Mackintosh Man (1973)


© 2022 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!

academic libraries action adventure animation anime Comics fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums public libraries romance school libraries slice-of-life speculative fiction webcomics White people

From Lilith to Amity: LGBTQ librarians shine through

Today is National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate the act of “coming out,” i.e. when an LGBTQ person publicly shares their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. In honor of that, I’d like to highlight some LGBTQ librarians I’ve written about on this blog, this year and years previously, and others on the List of fictional librarians that I put together in late 2021.

Lilith in Yamibou

She is the caretaker of the Great Library (after Adam), and travels through much of the series with a girl she has a crush on, Hazuki, going through book worlds, looking for Eve. The latter is later shown as another caretaker of the library, who loves Hazuki. Part of her duty is to make sure worlds within the books are secure, an interesting job as a librarian. Due to the fact she is one of the protagonists of this series, who has considerable knowledge and wisdom, it means that libraries are still a key part of the series.

Anne and Grea in Manaria Friends

Anne is one of the protagonists who is a soft-spoken girl, Princess, and honor student at Mysteria Academy, a prestigious magic school. Anne even ventured through the “forbidden” archives of the library in order to find something which would cure Grea of a fever. She and Grea appear to enter a relationship later on. Both work in the library as assistants, although not as full-fledged librarians.

Sophie Twilight in Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood

One of the protagonists of this anime, she drinks blood, but only when refrigerated, and she is shown weeding through her books in one episode. She has a refined appearance and liked going to comic book conventions. She brings in a high school girl, Akari, to live in her house, and appears to have feelings for her. Another vampire girl, Ellie, clearly is romantically attracted to her as well.

Fumi Manjōme in Aoi Hana / Sweet Blue Flowers

In one episode, she weeds books and remembers her kiss with Sugimoto. Later in the episode, she later talks with other students about the role and influence the Literary Club has on the library. In another episode, Fumi and Sugimoto go to the library and kiss there. Ultimately, Fumi at least knows some library skills, in terms of weeding, which is an important part of library work.

Chiyo Tsukudate in Strawberry Panic!

She works at the school library at Astrea Hill, known as Maiden’s Garden, and is a member of the literary club. She looks up to her fellow students and undoubtedly has a crush on Nagisa, one of the show’s protagonists. She checks out books and does other library duties well and efficiently. The library is a key location in the series.

Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words

In the episode “Did You See the Rain?,” she serves as the librarian in this episode, while the Girls Club members go on a treasure hunt to find a message, coming in and out of the library throughout the episode. Later, Azuza joins them in their quest. Azusa is a studious person who reads during breaks and takes an interest in learning, perfect for a librarian. She is a fan of yuri and loves Masaka Orino, unaware it is Ushio‘s older brother.

Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta

Fumio and Erena

Although she was originally introverted and lonely, she got more friends after meeting Erena. She works at the school library. Erena appears to be the closest one to her and both may be in a relationship with one another, although its implied.

George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

They call themselves historians, but run a family library/archives/museum. in a magical forest known as the Whispering Woods They are Bow’s dads. They are two middle-aged men and help the show’s protagonists translate an ancient message in the Season 2 finale. In a later episode, Bow and Glimmer meet George and Lance who tell them about an ancient rebellion and fail-safe on a superweapon. This information  becomes vitally important going forward.

Desiree in Too Loud

Desiree with her sister, Sara, and Sara’s friends at a slumber party

She is a trans woman. In an episode which was supposed to end the show, according to series creator Nico Colaleo, she begins to explore her trans identity, as she had been a closeted in her usual workday. This episode, “Slumber Party Sneak-In” was praised by reviewers. Desiree works every day with her sister Sara and co-worker Sarah at the local public library, but has a voice which is so loud, hence the name of the series, smashing library stereotypes along the way.

Amity Blight in The Owl House

Luz and Amity blush at one another in the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins”

She is a librarian who works at the Bonesborough Public Library, is a witch, and a student at Hexside Academy. Over the course of the story, her relationship with a human witch named Luz Noceda develops and later they begin a romantic relationship.

Sabine in Sabine: an asexual coming-of-age story

Sabine working at the library desk in episode 115.

The protagonist of this webcomic, Sabine works in the local school library as a part-time job, beginning early in the comic. She a fully committed asexual girl who tries to make friends and not have any romantic relationships, just like the comic’s author. The later also implies that she is, as a result, aromantic as well as asexual. Not all aromantic people are asexual, and vice versa. She is still learning more about herself all of the time, while she majors in history. As the comic’s author stated, Sabine is unaware of her asexuality, and isn’t sure she is aromantic, just that she isn’t ready for sex.

Mo Testa in Dykes to Watch Out For

Mo and Sydney

As the protagonist of this comic, and later comic book, she is a graduate of library school who worked at a feminist bookstore named Madwimmin Books, and appreciated “literary connectivity.” She is a committed lesbian feminist who later gets a job as a reference librarian. She has a lover in college named Clarice, but her eventual partner is a woman named Sydney. The comic’s creator, Alison Bechdel, recognized she was a lesbian after checking out books from the library, stating that an apparent “a key characteristic of queer people [is]…shamed persons who are drawn to lonely stacks and secret research,” and she worked at the circulation desk as a librarian while she was a college student, influencing the comic itself. She also stated that Mo had been drawn into “the pitfall of vocational awe, believing that her public library job is a religious calling.”

Concluding words

It is undetermined if Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words is LGBTQ. You could also argue that Kaisa in Hilda, a feisty character with unmatched knowledge of mystical items and cemetery records, who is a mysterious witch, is asexual based on her color scheme. There will likely be other LGBTQ librarians in the future, since many anime series have characters who go into libraries. [1]

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


[1] This includes the Mysterious Library house base in Smile PreCure (an anime) and Marisa Kirisame frequently going to the library in Touhou Project (a video game). There are also apparent library scenes in Sono Hanabira ni Kuchizuke wo (a visual novel), Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka (Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka) (an anime), Himawari-san (a manga), Kimi to Tsuzuru Utakata (a manga), Maria-sama ga Miteru (a manga), Shitsurakuen (a manga), Kamitsure (visual novel), Märchen Mädchen (an anime), Flowers (manga), Roundabout of Yuri Hime Collection (collection),  Lyrical Nanoha, Yuri Shimai (manga), BanG Dream!, Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo (manga), Himewari-san (manga), Yuri Shimai (manga), Kyuuketsuki-chan to Kouhai-chan (Vampire-chan x Junior-chan) (manga), Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk and Atelier Shallie: Alchemists of the Dusk Sea (video games), Conflict Girl (visual novel), Watashi wa Succubus to Kiss o Shita (manga), Fuwafuwa Futashika Yume Mitai (manga), Please Be Happy (visual novel), The Caged Bird Sings Theme Of Love (manga), Sakura Sadist (visual novel), A Piece of Candy of Yuri Hime Collection (manga), Once on a Windswept Night (visual novel), Yuri Hime Collection (manga), The Three-Second Rule of Yuri Hime Collection (manga), Nuku Nuku Toshoiin (manga), The Three Second Rule of Yuri Hime Collection (manga), Man’in Chijo Densha 2 (manga), Nozomi Kanaetamae ~Daydream Reconstruct~, and Kohonya (visual novel), and Hanidebi! Honey & Devil (visual novel).

action animation anime Comics fantasy Fiction genres Movies Pop culture mediums romance speculative fiction

Recently added titles (September 2022)

Pamela and her friends in the school library in an issue of Jackson’s Diary as bookshelves fall on Pamela’s jerkoff boyfriend

Happy World Animal Day! Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, OctoberNovember, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June [link], July [link], and August [link] 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, whether in graphic novels or webcomics, 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

  • Little Demon, “Possession Obsession”
  • Little Demon, “Popularity: Origin of Evil”
  • Little Demon, “Night of the Leeches”

Anime series recently added to this page

  • Love Live! Superstar!!, “Chance Way”

Comics recently added to this page

  • Blobby and Friends, “This is why my mother is blocked
  • Daybreak, “Episode 6”
  • Feelings I Can’t Control, “Chapter 8”
  • Feelings I Can’t Control, “Chapter 10”
  • Hate That I Like You, “Chap 6”
  • Jackson’s Diary, “(S2) Episode 68”
  • On a Reaper’s Whim, “Contest Entry”
  • The Kiss Bet, (S3) “Ep. 114 – Holding Hands (Part 2)”
  • The Kiss Bet, (S3) “Ep. 115 – Running Away”
  • The Kiss Bet, (S3) “Ep. 116 – I Won’t Let You Fail”
  • The Kiss Bet, (S3) “Ep. 118 – Fake Crush”
  • Zinnia, “26”
  • Zinnia, “27”
  • Zinnia, “28”

Films recently added to this page



© 2022 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!