Often librarians are portrayed as quiet, bookish people, who shush those who are noisy, and act in a stereotypical manner. However, librarians come in many types and kinds, either with an MLIS/MLS or not, and those stereotypes can be disrupted when a librarian changes professions as it changes audience expectations. Even so, librarians aren’t united on what the image of librarians should be changed into in order to counter the stereotypes. Through all of this, many librarians are portrayed with hair buns, part of the oft-stereotype.  Today, I’ll explore that, determining why this is the case, its significance in librarian portrayals, and what it means overall. As Swallow said in Act I of William Shakespeare’s classic comedy play, The Mary Wives of Windsor, “if you should fight, you go against the hair of your professions,” meaning that you are going against the grain.
Fictional librarians are often shown with so-called “traditional” outfits, looks, and hairstyles, including hair buns, which are symbolic in research around stereotypes themselves. This has even cropped up in webcomics. This is in part because styling one’s hair can be “highly politicized” and complicated, especially for people of color, who experience microaggressions when people want to “touch” their hair or question it entirely. Some have even argued that different hair styles can be empowering and resist stereotypes, even as a library can be a “very conservative” place to work, although this may not be as strict in university library environments. Hair can also be an opportunity to communicate change, while serving as an intricate part of the identity and responsibility of the profession itself, with different hair styles having the potential to dispel stereotypes. 
In Western animation, this is clear as librarians of color, like Clara Rhone in Welcome to the Wayne, and Mira in Mira, Royal Detective episode (“The Case of the Missing Library Book”) don’t wear hair buns. Neither does Ms. Herrera in a Archie’s Weird Mysteries episode (“The Haunting of Riverdale”). However, the unnamed librarian in a We Bare Bears episode (“The Library”) prominently wears a hair bun, and serves as the only librarian of color that I know of, in Western animation, that does so. This could be a function of her role in the library and set rules which may establish that she dresses to “impress” in a semi-formal outfit. So, it could be a consequence of that, as other librarians I’ve mentioned may work in environments which are more open with their rules around self-expression or care little about how people look.
When it comes to White female librarians in animation, it is a different story. Apart from Kaisa in Hilda, the unnamed librarian in a Steven Universe episode (“Buddy’s Book”), the librarian in the first Zevo-3 episode, Mrs. Higgins in a Sofia the First episode (“The Princess Test”), and Amity Blight in The Owl House, who briefly wears her hair in a pony trail, which became a sensation among fans of the series, to give a few examples, many of the other librarians wear hair buns.  This includes the librarian characters, who are effectively one-episode-wonders or only appear very briefly, in episodes of Futurama, DC Super Hero Girls, Rugrats, Kim Possible, Timon & Pumbaa, Dexter’s Laboratory, Totally Spies, Phineas & Ferb, and The Simpsons, to name a few shows.
Also, Francis Clara Censorsdoll in Moral Orel wears a hair bun. Even, the blue-glasses wearing librarian in The Flintstones episode “The Hit Songwriter” wears a hair bun. At times, it appears that librarians with hair buns are meant to symbolize social conservative and prudish people, like the librarian in an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head (“Cyber-Butt”), who faints when she sees a nude image on a computer screen. Although she doesn’t wear a hair bun, what she symbolizes is similar to how some librarians are portrayed in Western animation.
Others have declared that the perception of librarians with hair buns or lace collars should be discarded, as librarians are highly active and high tech now. While someone can easily agree with this, it is harder to push away the image of a spinster librarian with a hair bun, with some wearing buns and braids while working in the library. There is the further point that many librarians may not have enough hair to put into a bun in the first place. At one point, librarians adopted the hair bun style at one time, giving life to what became the stereotype and cliche. However, nowadays many younger librarians have different hair styles, and some might even have better eyesight than anyone else as they don’t need glasses!  Still, tropes like the”Prim and Proper Bun” remain, with those with this hairstyle said to be in charge or be respected. This is somewhat countered with the “Loony Librarian” trope, which is said to describe a librarian who’s let “their profession mess with their mind a little.”
The stern librarian with hair tied tightly behind their head, peering at patrons from behind their glasses, still remains a go-to-stereotype for too many, even perpetrated by journalists who should know better. Some even try and make it sexy, serious, while others highlight other hairstyles or fashions instead.  The shushing librarian remains, despite the fact it doesn’t reflect reality, with uptight librarians fading from existence except in pop culture, where they remain a negative stereotype. They appear as early as a 1921 silent film, with hair buns becoming an “occupational indicator” of librarians over time, even as there is no single image of a librarian.  Instead, actual librarians are different, and have varying styles. Jennifer Snoek-Brown, who runs Reel Librarians, has recognized this with posts about librarian style, like a librarian-themed clothing collection she posted about in May 2022.
Of course, there are actual librarians out there, like the elderly White woman with grey hair in a bun shown at the beginning of Ghostbusters, and others who embody the stereotype or wear librarian costumes for Halloween. However, there are just as many who run afoul of that stereotype, either by not shushing any patrons. The stereotype itself has its roots in gender with the profession dominated by White woman, although it is not accurate in the slightest.  There is supposed “greying” of the profession which only reinforces the images of frumpy stereotypical librarians, an image with unknown origins. The latter image is something which has become a signifier of the profession, for better or worse, despite efforts to counter it. The fight to counter such images continues, with some showing they are more than a librarian, like those who also bellydance, and others who thrive on change and want to dispel of the bun entirely. 
There are various librarians in Western animations who don’t wear hair buns. Apart from Amity, who I mentioned earlier, there’s Violet Stanhope in an episode of Archie’s Weird Mysteries (“The Haunting of Riverdale”), Miss Dickens in Carl Squared episode (“Carl’s Techno-Jinx”), Sara and Sarah in Too Loud, Mrs. Shusher in The Replacements episode (“Quiet Riot”), Millie in Madagascar: A Little Wild episode (“Melman at the Movies”), and Marion the Librarian in Hanny Manny. There are additional unnamed librarians in Martin Mystery, Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Uncle Grandpa, Phineas and Ferb, and Amphibia, none of whom wear hair buns either.
But there is something more to the bun hairstyle. In some ways, it can be practical, despite being a stereotype for librarians, and is claimed to add “glam” or “chic” to any outfit, with no “right or wrong way to wear a bun” as one site declared. This can also be pushed away by people of color who want to move away from being called a “bun lady”. At the same time, apart from the types of buns, some of which are said to show that a person is “sophisticated.”
Ancient Chinese, Koreans, Polynesians, and Greeks, often women, all wore hair buns. The hair style was popular in Korea and Japan among men, for one reason or another. It became popular beginning in the 1800s, as styles from ancient Greeks and Romans entering into high society, and again in the 1870s, during the Victorian period. 
This isn’t the case for all librarians, however. The above librarian, Nagisa Yasaka (voiced by Hisako Tōjō), appears in one episode of My Roommate is a Cat, “Ones Who Can’t Be Controlled”, and is overjoyed when the protagonist gives her a book, thinking she’d be interested in it, after struggling to decide what to give her, not knowing her interests. She tells him that she is a school librarian. Unfortunately, we only see her in this one episode and never again, so it isn’t known whether she wears a hair bun while working in the library or not.
She is not alone in this. Hair buns are somewhat rare for the librarians I’ve seen in anime to-date, with even Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta having her hair braided into tails, but not tied up in a hair bun. The same is the case for Hasegawa Sumika in Bernard-jou Iwaku a.k.a. Miss Bernard said, while Himeko Agari in Komi Can’t Communicate has hair too short to put into a hair bun. Even the two librarians briefly shown in the first episode of Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai don’t have a hair bun, as one as her hair in a ponytail and the other doesn’t have her hair tied up. The unnamed and uncredited librarian shown in an episode of Kin-iro Mosaic aka Kinmoza (“The Girl on My Mind”) doesn’t have her hair in a hair bun either. Instead, its just in a pony tail
However, there are a couple librarians in anime who have a hair buns. Take for example, the unnamed librarian in an episode of Akebi’s Sailor Uniform episode (“There’s No School Tomorrow, Right?”). More prominently, there’s Rin Shima in Laid-Back Camp. Apart from her sleeping at the information desk, from time to time, as I described in a post back in January, she seems comfortable with a hair bun. It allows her to keep her hair tied up while she works, and doesn’t serve as a distraction. She might be the most prominent Japanese fictional librarian who wears a hair bun.
This difference in fictional librarians is one of the many aspects which sets apart librarians in anime from those in Western animation. If the photographs on Wikimedia and scattered images online are any indication, Japanese female librarians often don’t often wear hair buns. So, in this sense, the anime may be reflecting reality. The same may be the case for Western animation, to an extent, except that there has been a strong resistance to the “bun lady” perception in Western countries, especially by librarians of color, who don’t want to tie up their hair in buns. Hopefully, Western animation, in coming years, features more librarians without hair buns, and guts the stereotype entirely, even if it is too easy to rely on old cliches of librarians (often White) who are strict, curmudgeonly, and have hair buns.
© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.
 Top row, from left to right: unnamed librarian in Futurama, unnamed librarian in DC Super Hero Girls, Ms. Hatchet in Kim Possible, Rita Book in Timon & Pumbaa, unnamed librarian in Rugrats. Bottom row, from left to right: Mrs. L in Dexter’s Laboratory, unnamed librarian in Totally Spies!, unnamed librarian in We Bare Bears, Eztli in Victor and Valentino, Francis Clara Censordoll in Moral Orel, unnamed librarian in Big City Greens, Arlene in Phineas and Ferb, and Censordoll again.
 Matthew Wood. “10 Most Awesome Librarians in Pop Culture,” Comic Book Resources, Aug. 22, 2019; Stephen Walker, V. Lonnie Lawson. “The Librarian Stereotype and the Movies,” MC Journal: The Journal of Academic Media Librarianship, 1, no. 1 (1993): 16-28; Dana Vinke. “Unconventional Librarians,” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture, Fall 2001, accessed May 27, 2022; Sadie Trombetta. “11 Of The Coolest Librarians From Pop Culture,” Bustle, Mar. 2, 2015. For additional resources, see Ashanti White’s Not Your Ordinary Librarian: Debunking the Popular Perceptions of Librarians, Nicole Pagowsky’s The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Perceptions and Presentations of Information Work, to mention two books. There are librarians like Lani in Diner Dash and Myrna Bookbottom in Freaky Flyers who both embody librarian stereotypes, but there are others that buck these stereotypes.
 Raymond Pun and Jesus Lau, “Hair and Hairstyles as Metaphors for Librarians,” IFLA WLIC 2018, pp. 1-5.
 Amity is beloved by fans since she is a somewhat prominent recurring character and she is a lesbian who is in a romantic relationship with the show’s protagonist, Luz Noceda.
 Christine Sharbrough, “What Does a Librarian Do All Day?,” BellaOnline, 2013; DarLynn Nemitz, “Male Librarians: Stereotypes and Role Models,” Image of Librarians in Popular Culture, Fall 2001; Amy P., “Librarian Who Hadn’t Updated Her Look In 8 Years Underwent An Extreme Head-To-Toe Makeover,” LittleThings, May 12, 2022; “So, what does a librarian do all day?,” Iowa State University University Library, Apr. 11, 2007; UNH Library, “The Top 10 Misconceptions about Libraries and Librarians,” The Charger Bulletin, Nov. 14, 2012; David Levy, “Reel Librarians: Images and Stereotypes of Librarians and Libraries in film and literature,” Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Conference of the Association of Jewish Libraries (Boston, MA – June 18-20, 2018), pp, 1-3; “How to Style Your Hair Into an Upside Down Bun,” StepByStep, accessed May 27, 2022; “More Librarian Misconceptions,” Bound: A Blog About Books & Libraries, Apr. 1, 2014; Glenn A. Hascall, “Larry & The Librarian,” accessed May 27, 2022; Megan Halsband, “Let’s Talk Comics: Librarians,” Headlines & Heroes, Library of Congress, Jul. 3, 2019; Jodi McFarland, “Saginaw Valley librarians ride Internet age forward,” mlive, Jul. 7, 2008;Michelle Reilly, “Librarians,” It’s a Dog’s Life, Jul. 10, 2008.
 Jesse Chadderdon, “Video: Librarians shake their book carts in national dance competition,” The Bulletin, Jul. 13, 2009; Eric, “One of the Wonders,” It’s all good, Jul. 8, 2007; Roger Ebert, “Party Girl,” Roger Ebert website, Jul. 7, 1995; Phyllis Korkki, “Spare a Hair Band? A Man Bun to Go,” New York Times, Jan. 26, 2012; “Hair Dos: 10 Beautiful Buns & Tucks,” The Frisky, Oct. 8, 2019; Lawrence Feldman, “The librarian’s bun — A ‘tail’ for the High Holy Days,” Times of Israel, Sept. 24, 2017; Emma Smart and Sarah Currant, “The 10 best librarians on screen,” BFI, Feb. 5, 2016; Ruth A. Kneale, “Librarians’ views of public perception in the Internet age,” You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!, Jun. 2002; Deliala Yasin, “Sexy Librarian Stereotypes,” Oct. 7, 2010; Kelly Jensen, “Queer Phobia and The Public Library,” Book Riot, Oct. 13, 2016; “Marian the Librarian – Pop! Profile,” Pop! Goes the Librarian, Jun. 7, 2012; “Image of Librarians,” LISWiki, Feb. 1, 2016; Caroline Murray, “What Do Men Think Of Buns?,” Stylecaster, Jun. 9, 2012; Heather, “Welcome to the Librarian Fashion blog!,” Librarian Fashion, Mar. 22, 2011.
 Pam Hayes Bohanan, “Librarians in Pop Culture,” Bridgewater State University, Sept. 12, 2013; “Librarian Stereotypes,” Life is Just a Bowl Full of Queries, Sept. 28, 2008; Jed Lipinski, “‘This Book Is Overdue!’: Hot for librarian,” Salon, Feb. 21, 2010; Joe Hardenbrook, “28 Lego Librarians (PHOTOS),” HuffPost, Oct. 5, 2013; Marcia J. Myers, “Images of Librarians in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Including An Annotated List,” Jun 1998, p. 3, 6, 8-9; “When it rains it pours… and other cliches,” lclibraries, May 28, 2013; Antoinette G. Graham, “Sign of the Librarian in the Cinema of Horror: An Exploration of Filmic Function,” Florida State University Libraries, 2010, pp. v, 12, 21, 23, 28, 47, 54; Carly Bedford and Chelsea Misquith, “Old Maid, Old Maid, How Librarians are Portrayed,” University of Toronto, 2015. Also see Kathleen Low’s book, Casanova Was a Librarian: A Light-Hearted Look at the Profession and another book by Ray Tevis and
Brenda Tevis entitled The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917–1999.
 Julie Manser, “Shushing the Librarian Stereotype,” Zócalo Magazine, Mar. 5, 2015; Monique L. Threatt, “Bad to the Bone, Librarians in Motion Pictures: Is It An Accurate Portrayal,” Indiana Libraries, The Image of Librarians, p. 7; Eric Sherman, “Librarians Confess Their Naughtiest On-the-Job Moments,” AOL, Oct. 8, 2013; Aaron Gouveia, “Librarians show off their moves,” Cape Cod Times, May 9, 2008; Arianna Rebolini, “Here’s What It’s Actually Like To Be A Librarian,” BuzzFeed News, Nov. 17, 2018; ““When they take of their glasses and put down their hair”: Defogging the Glasses Girl Stereotypes,” Things He Says, Feb. 17, 2016; Jenni Bean, “Teens rebel…. Library closes. WHAT?!?!,” My Life as a Married Super Librarian!, Jan. 2, 2007; Gabrielle Barone, “‘I don’t shush’: Local Librarians share their thoughts stereotypes rooted in their profession,” Daily Collegian, Penn State University, Nov. 15, 2017; Jeff Voyt, “Librarian Stereotypes,” A Year in the Life, Apr. 24, 2014; Macy Haford, “The New Sexy Librarian,” The New Yorker, Oct. 2, 2011;
 “On the Great Myth of the Librarian Grays,” Guardienne of the Tomes, Sept. 3, 2010; Jessamyn West, December 2002 entries, librarian.net, Dec. 2002; “Katharine L. Kan, MLS,” Librarian to Librarian, accessed May 27, 2022; Bari L. Helms, “Reel Librarians: The Stereotype and Technology,” Masters Thesis, Apr. 2006, pp. 3, 5, 9-10, 256; David James Brier and Vickery Kaye Lebbin, “Learning Information Literacy through Drawing,” Hawaii University, accessed May 27, 2022; Katy Shaw, “Buns on the Run: Changing the Stereotype of the Female Librarian,” University of Washington, October 2003; Chelsea Fregis, “Quick & Easy Curly Hair Styles for Finals Week,” NaturallyCurly, Nov. 7, 2011; Scholastica A.J. Chukwu, Nkeiru Emezie, Ngozi Maria Nwaohiri, and Ngozi Chima-James, “The Librarian in the Digital Age: A Preferred Nomenclature, Perceptions of Academic Librarians in Imo State Nigeria,” Library Philosophy and Practice, Dec. 2018, p. 5; Aja Carmichael, “The Changing Role of Librarians,” Wall Street Journal, Jan. 5, 2007; Ana Tintocalis, “Young, Hip Librarians Take Over,” KPBS, Jan. 10, 2011; “Hairstyle with Pins for Parties : Pinned to Perfection,” fashioncentrel, 2011; “Black History Month: Plainfield librarian challenged segregation, created literacy programs,” nj.com, Feb. 12, 2010; Eris, “The Bellydancing Librarian,” Nov. 21, 2013;Kay Oddone, “Change in the Library,” National Education Summit, Jan. 26, 2022; Genevieve Zook, “Technology and the Generation Gap,” LLRX, Aug. 27, 2007; Amanda Thomas, “Some minority librarians seeking to update image of white ‘bun lady’,” The Decatur Daily, Associated Press, Dec. 17, 2006. Also see the article entitled “The Graying of Academic Librarians: Crisis or Revolution?“, and many others, like: “Why I suck at blogging,” You have to go to college for that?!, Sept. 12, 2006; “Easy does it.,” You have to go to college for that?!, Jun. 24, 2006; Erin, “Gallery of Bellydancing Librarians,” The Bellydancing Librarian, Jul. 27, 2002; Dan Evon, “Tattooed Librarians Of The Ocean State Calendar Goes On Sale,” Inquisitr, Oct. 28, 2016; Kristy Gross, “Testing, Testing…,” Not Your Typical Librarian, Dec. 26, 2011; Jess Carter-Morley, “The updo is back,” The Guardian, Aug. 10, 2010; Regina Sierra Carter, “Librarians: Do Any Look Like Me?,” Inside Higher Ed, Mar. 29, 2017; Jack Broom, “Toymaker finds librarian who’s a real doll,” Seattle Times, Jul. 10, 2003; Leslie A. Pultroak, “The Image of Librarians in Poetry, 1958-1993,” MLS Research Paper, Kent State University, Aug. 1993; “Wend of the Webolution,” Anne of Green Labels, Mar. 12, 2009; Cynthia L. Shamel, “Building a Brand: Got Librarian?,” Searcher, Vol. 10, No. 7, Jul./Aug. 2002; Steven M. Bergson, “Librarians in Comics: Sources,” Aug. 17, 2002; Aimee Graham, “Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions,” INALJ, Jan. 12, 2015; Eliza, “7 Beautiful and Stylish Hair Dos to Give You a Whole New Look …,” All Women’s Talk, accessed May 27, 2022; Marcus, “Google Book Search and the Psychology of Librarians,” Marcus’ World, Apr. 28, 2007; Gabriel Spitzer, “Librarians Go Wild For Gold Book Cart,” All Things Considered, NPR, Jul. 13, 2009; Emelie Svensson and Evelina Magnusson, “Books, libraries and beige” [Abstract], Linnéuniversitetet, Institutionen för kulturvetenskaper, Dec. 31, 2012; Julie, “[Untitled],” A day in the library…, Jan. 24, 2010; Ruth Kneale, “Librarian Image Study,” Marketing Library Service Vol. 16, No. 8, Nov/Dec. 2002; Rachel Sawaya, “Ideas for a Librarian Costume,” eHow, accessed May 28, 2022; Sarika Sawant, “Women librarians in traditional and modern attires in India: Nationwide scenario,” IFLA WLIC 2018, pp. 1-17; Angeline Evans, “The librarian ‘do [outfit],” The New Professional, Jun. 2, 2011; Ted Menten, “The Naughty Librarian,” Sasha Street, Feb. 27, 2010; Manda Sexton, Samantha Reardon, Jennifer Carter, and Matthew Foley, “The Inked Experience: Professionalism and Body Modifications in Libraries,” Georgia Library Quarterly, Vol. 58, No. 4, Fall 2021, p. 1-2; Melissa Wooton, “Warrior Librarian: How Our Image is Changing (A Personal Look),” Indiana Libraries, c. 2003, p. 24; Catherine Butler, “[Review of] Margaret Mahy: Librarian of Babel,”Online Research @ Cardiff, Cardiff University, 2015, p. 3, reprinted from article of same name in Lion and the Unicorn, Vol. 39, No. 2, pp. 129-145; Miss Cellania, “Tattooed Librarians,” Neatorama, Aug. 3, 2009; Ellie D., “Bunning Without Breakage — The 5 Rules of Bunning Natural Hair,” BGLH Marketplace, Feb. 3, 2015; Adriane Alan, “Librarians in Children’s and Teen Literature,” Image of Libraries in Popular Culture, c. 2000, authorship shown here.
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