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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.


Notes

[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).

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anime fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums slice-of-life special libraries speculative fiction

Examining Isomura, a librarian-curator in “Let’s Make a Mug Too”

The library inside the ceramics museum in Let’s Make a Mug Too

Recently, when watching some currently airing anime series, I stumbled upon the slice-of-life 2021 anime, Let’s Make a Mug Too, otherwise known as Yaku nara Magu Kappu mo, which is based on a manga series of the same name, about high school girls making pottery together. With that, I was taken off guard when in one episode, “The Garden of Sky and Wind,” the protagonist, Himeno Toyokawa, visits a local ceramics museum with her teacher and the curator brings them inside to a library! Not expecting to see a library in series, so it made me very happy and more excited to keep watching it. In this post, I’ll examine the scene inside the library and whether the curator is a librarian, or not, and how this connects to libraries more broadly.

Early in the episode, the adviser of the Pottery Club, Mami, tells Himeno about the museum in Tajimi for local works behind the school is adding a section for youth pottery, hoping to inspire Himeno. They gather materials together, go up to a climbing kiln, and Himeno finds an interesting, majestic sculpture in the woods. Later on, Himeno and Mami meet Isomura, a woman who is from city hall, discusses plans to use the local museum space, until the year before when there was agreement to make it a youth pottery museum. Isomura explains that the monument was created by Tokigawa Himena, who happens to be Himeno’s late mother, a well-known pottery maker! This makes Isomura very excited (she geeks out), especially since Himeno is making pottery of her own, and notes how Himena’s sculpture was instrumental in the decision to keep and repurpose the building.

We then see the library in all its glory, with a screenshot of it shown as the beginning of this post, with Isomura laying out materials for them, noting the materials the museum collected. Himeno is excited to find, with encouragement from Isomura, her mom’s drawings and photographs of the ceramics she made, allowing her and her teacher to bond. Later, Isomura shows Himeno an article where her mom explained the sculpture project, reading her part of the article, making her connect with her mother that much more!

It seems evident to me that Isomura, is undoubtedly a curator, which the Dictionary of Archives Terminology defines as an “individual responsible for oversight of a collection or an exhibition” or the “administrative head of a museum or collection,” adding it often carries the connotation of an “individual who selects items based on artistic merit or connoisseurship.” More than that, she is a librarian, although not in the way of those in public libraries, as the museum has a special library which is geared toward those interested in ceramics. It is, as a public institution, open to the public, but only those in the town and makers of ceramics would come there. She seems to know where the materials are on the shelves very easily and with ease, making me think that she has been there before and likely helped organize the materials in the first place, continuing to shelve books and other records throughout the day. She is so nice, and cheerful, in contrast to many others in animation who are librarians:

I LOVE the attention to detail in this shot, like the call numbers. Is there a place like this in Tajimi? I think its definitely a possibility

Sadly, her character is uncredited from the listings on the official website and on Anime News Network. Isomura appears to be the only curator of this museum. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, “in small institutions, one curator may be responsible for many tasks, from taking care of collections to directing the affairs of the museum.” That seems to be her role, rather than a museum technician or conservator, as the fact she is coming from city hall seems to indicate she has some position of authority in the museum, rather than someone lower on the hierarchy of this local museum. But, maybe I’m reading into that too much? Anyone who has watched this episode and has a different interpretation of her role, I welcome them to chime in.

The two roles of “librarian” and “curator” can overlap, so much so at times that there are even blogs, albeit dated ones like this one which ended in 2008,  and a page on the Liturgy Institute London website about “library curators.” Of course, librarians and curators don’t have the same roles, for sure, but it appears that Isomura shares characteristics of both roles, all into one position. In fact, some curators directly oversee special collections libraries, and others work for libraries, like those who work for the Library of Congress.

I think it can definitely be said that Isomura is a librarian and as such, she is unique, because most of the Japanese female librarians noted on my list of fictional librarians are much younger, whether high school age or younger. [1] My guess is that Isomura is in her 20s or 30s. So that makes her a unique character in and of itself. And her experience in the museum inspires Himeno to make a sculpture the next day which is similar to what her mother made.

This has to be my favorite episode in the series and while I’m not sure if the library, or Isomura will continue, I have to say this one of the most positive depictions of libraries and museums that I’ve seen in a long time, with the Isomura being helpful, friendly, and courteous to her patrons, unlike many other librarians in animation. And that is laudable to say the least. I’d like hear your comments on this, including those which watched this series. Did you interpret her character the same way? What were your thoughts?

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] This includes Myne in Ascendance of a Bookworm, Hisami Hishishii in R.O.D. the TV, Yamada in B Gata H Kei, Azusa Aoi in Whispered Words, Chiyo Tsukudate in Strawberry Panic!, Fumi Manjōme in Aoi Hana / Sweet Blue Flowers, Anne in Manaria Friends, Grea in Manaria Friends, Lilith in Yamibou, Iku Kasahara in Library War, Asako Shibasaki in Library War, Fumio Murakumi in Girl Friend Beta, Hasegawa Sumika in Bernard-jou Iwaku a.k.a. Miss Bernard said, Himeko Agari in Komi Can’t Communicate, Aruto, Iina, and Kokoro in Kokoro Toshokan a.k.a. Kokoro Library. While the age of Lilith in Yamibou is not known, the unnamed librarians in Cardcaptor Sakura episode (“Sakura and Her Summer Holiday Homework”), librarian in Little Witch Academia episode (“Night Fall”), are likely the same age while Sophie Twilight in Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood is older. The same can be said, I think, about Hamyuts Meseta, Mirepoc Finedel, Noloty Malche, and Ireia Kitty in Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra.

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anime drama fantasy Fiction genres Japanese people Librarians Libraries Pop culture mediums rural libraries special libraries speculative fiction

More than “frilly outfits”: librarian work, weeding, and library marketing in Kokoro Library

How every episode of the series begins

In September of last year, I came across Kokoro Library, an anime series from the early 2000s. I watched it, it was apparent that librarians were likely consulted when this was produced because of the number of issues about libraries this animation raises. This was further buttressed by the fact that in March 2002, the Japan Library Association announced that copies of the Kokoro Library anime would appear in 500 libraries across Japan. Although all thirteen episodes are available in Japan on Amazon Prime Video, the series has not seen an official English translation. Luckily, there are fan translations, one of which I watched on the Internet Archive. Provided that there are many library-related themes in this anime, it would be wrong to cram them all into one post. Given criticisms of this anime [1] for possibly implying that all librarians have to do is “look cute and sit behind a desk” and that the series is “inconsequential”, I may reassess it in the future.

This slice-of-life anime, which is named Kokoro Library or Kokoro Toshokan, follows the daily lives of three sisters (Kokoro, Aruto, and Iina) who live in a remote, rural library, seemingly somewhere in Western Europe. Although the show is peaceful, cute, and relaxing, some people might be turned off by the art style, the slow pacing, or the fact that the librarians are wearing “frilly French maid outfits,” trying to fulfill their jobs, although they mostly do maintenance and groundskeeping. The library gets very few patrons, reportedly with very little “real” librarian work to do.

Kokoro remains optimistic and kind, serving as the “soul of the show,” and learns to become more confident. There are later stories about exotic stories about androids, but it said to not be about “anything important or deeply philosophical,” relying more on feeling than anything else, with the characters symbolic in their own way. Other reviewers praised voice acting in the series by Chiwa Saitō, who voices Kokoro, and said it is a type of anime that you watch when you get home after a hard day at work, comparing it to Read or Die. Viewers praised the opening and ending songs of the anime, and the anime itself was one of the most popular anime in February of 2002. [2]

The first episode, “I’ll Become a Librarian” begins with introducing the show’s three protagonists, and the library cat, Kit. Kokoro lives at the library with her sisters, a little like George and Lance in a few episodes of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. Kokoro begins her first day at the library, isolated on a mountain and away from the city, working alongside her sisters Aruto and Iina. She learns that the library gets few users. All three sisters engage in library tasks like opening up the library’s windows, shelving books, checking the mail, data entry, cart pushing, and book arranging.

Apart from library itself which has old computers, some sort of classification system, tables, seats, and computers for people to use, there are many library-related issues covered in the anime. For one, Kokoro and Aruto differ on describing library patrons, with Kokoro describing them as “customers” and Aruto saying they are “users.”

Kokoro (left) talks to a patron who is asking if she can borrow a book

She is helpful to patrons, helping patrons by finding them books they are looking for, or check out items, or giving someone a library card, all instances of “librarian work.” This is later described as a “reference” experience. She even later tracks down one user who came to the library, in hopes of retrieving a book, going on an adventure of sorts. Her sisters claim that the “job of a librarian…is to believe in people.”

When they talk about “reference,” they are likely not referring to a reference librarian. Instead to the idea of a reference interview, the process which “determines the information needs” of a patron, and tries to translate the questions of a patron into one that “can be answered with the library’s resources.” In this case, Kokoro clearly did a great job of helping a patron and felt fulfilled while she did it. It was a bit extreme, though, for her to go on a whole journey to find one book which wasn’t returned to the library, as libraries lose books all the time. I’m also not convinced that the job of a librarian is to believe in people, as sometimes you really can’t do that. I’d say the job is to help patrons in the best way you can, but not believe in people, as people can be wrong, hostile, or dangerous, depending on where you are a librarian.

In the show’s second episode, “What I Can Do At This Moment,” Kokoro begins asking herself what she is good at, knowing that her sister Aru likes to bake and sleep everywhere, Iina who likes taking photos and is good with computers. She later realizes she is good at singing. The episode features book shelving, a truck coming to deliver boxes of books, book cataloging, and carrying stacks of books. The library also appears to have a scanner, a laptop, and a printer, technology which was advanced at the time.

One of the more interesting parts of the episode when they worry about declining number of library patrons. During their discussion, Aru proposes they get rid of the “old, unpopular books” and replace them with new popular books and it will draw in users, gathering best sellers and popular comics, picture books, CDs, and videos. However,  Kokoro isn’t sure about this and Iina agrees. She declares that library is a place to “deepen knowledge and education.” In response, Aru justifies her position by using the stats of declining patronage to the library, even saying that modern libraries should focus on entertainment, something which Iina calls “vulgar.” Aru later remarks that young novels and picture books can “cultivate knowledge and education” too. Poor Kokoro though, as she isn’t sure what side to take. She tells them both that if people knew about the library, then they would come, and she proposes advertising the library!

This makes me think of the difference between the collections of two libraries I know very well: the Baltimore County Library (BCPL) and the Pratt Library. From my experience as a patron who uses both systems, and as a person who worked at a Pratt Library branch, I can say with confidence that the BCPL tends to have more popular books and weed old and unpopular books. On the other hand, the Pratt has vast collections, able to easily accommodate old and new materials which much more ease. This is not much of a surprise as the Pratt has 22 branches, with the Pratt itself saying that Maryland residents continue to “depend on the Pratt’s collections to supply materials that are not available elsewhere in the state or electronically.” [3] Compare this to BCPL, which has 19 branches and many other services, with goals asserted in their Strategic Plan focused on quality of life, education and lifelong learning, equitable access, and organizational wellness, which doesn’t provide much room for older materials, but much more for newer materials. Even so, we must acknowledge that the Pratt has a bigger budget, more support, and more storage space than BCPL, which undoubtedly affects which materials are chosen and kept within the library’s collections for users, or which are discarded.

How many librarians do you know who have this ability, like Aru? I don’t even have that ability…and I can’t think of anyone else who has that ability.

Later in the episode, Kokoro tries to determine what she can do to bring in more patrons, while her sister Iina wants a music appreciation gathering, with a well-known artist, and inviting a well-known programmer. Aru rejects this, with an idea for super care of users like serving tea, reading books to them, and massaging their shoulders, but Iina worries about how this would affect Kokoro. Ultimately, all three sisters work together on a flyer to promote the library, and they are able to rope in their delivery driver in distributing the flyers.

While Kokoro is dispirited after her sisters say that she might have unreasonable expectations about the library, she returns to find a whole group of people at the library, a line of cars snaking down the road! This communicates the idea that library advertising does work. Weirdly, there is the idea that overnight work is ok “from time to time.” But, is that work really fine? I would have to lean toward no, as it can lead to burnout. After the end of the episode, we are all probably crying tears of joy like Kokoro at the end, as she accomplished her goals.

This makes me think of the Marketing Libraries Journal (MLJ), a peer-reviewed, independently published, open access scholarly journal which “focuses on innovative marketing activities libraries are engaged in,” trying to publish “research and practical examples of library marketing campaigns…tools used for marketing” and much more. Kokoro Library has to be the only animated series I have come across which has discussed library advertising or marketing as part of the plot! So that makes this series unique in that respect. When putting together this article, I thought back to my time in library school, when I wrote papers about marketing, library promotion, library engagement, target audiences, and many more topics. [4]

Kokoro clearly knew who the target audience she was trying to reach with this campaign: people from the nearby town. She believed she could influence them to come to the library, increasing the patronage, even though her sisters were not sure this would be a success. While you could say that, the library caused “miracles” to happen, as Iina put it, more accurately, people were intrigued by the poster and excited to visit it, coming to a place they didn’t know. It was a successful, but simple public relations campaign you could say, even though it has the downside of being completely based on the fliers, with no other way of the message being shared. This is exactly what Kokoro’s sisters were afraid of, they believed the fliers wouldn’t be enough to bring more people to the library. As I wrote back in 2018, “no one is immune to advertising and marketing.”

As Ned Potter, an information professional, put it, one-off marketing usually never works. Rather, libraries try to build awareness overtime of relevant services, appeal to people “at the right time,” as putting out too many messages at once means there is “nothing for anyone to hold on to.” He argues that marketing campaigns are what has an “impact and make[s] a tangible difference to the Library.” He concludes his piece by saying that such campaigns need to “the primary focus of your comms for a concerted period of time,” with the same message going out through multiple platforms, having a strong call to action, and measuring outcomes rather than outcomes, even if that takes time. During the time this series was set, in the early 2000s, there was no Twitter (founded in 2006), YouTube (founded in 2005), TikTok (founded in 2016), Facebook (founded in 2004), Instagram (founded in 2010), Reddit (founded in 2005) or Tumblr (founded in 2007), so using fliers makes sense, even though they could have used other methods, like their presumed dial-up internet to promote the library as well.

Kokoro watches her sister, Iina at a computer. Kokoro is apparently bad with using computers, although Iina is not and is very skilled.

While there are many other marketing strategies, resources on library marketing, tips, and more, I believe I’ve given enough of an overview of this topic without getting too much in the weeds on this topic. [5] This post is one of the many which connects to library themes unlike other series out there, even with those which have librarians as supporting characters like Welcome to the Wayne or The Owl House. That makes the series unique and worthy of note, so much so that it can’t all be summarized in one post, making this the beginning of a series.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] This review also says that “it takes a whole lot more than minimum alpha brain waves to earn a degree in library sciences. Certainly Kokoro wouldn’t hack it in the ALA – she’d do good to make it to the Special Olympics” and goes onto say “for a much more exciting and interesting tour of the world of library sciences, we recommend Read or Die. Either that, or read a book. Both are infinitely preferable to this inconsequential series.” Harsh words! As of the writing of this post, I have only watched TWO episodes, so my opinion on it may change as I watch more episodes.

[2] Cornblatt, Cassidy. “10 Best Unpopular Anime Series,” Reel Rundown, Sept. 15, 2021; Grisham, Paul. “Kokoro Library Vol. #1,” Mania Entertainment, Apr. 14, 2002; Beard, Jeremy A. “Kokoro Library,” THEM Anime Reviews, c. 2002; Hikawa, Ryusuke. Kokoro Library Bandai Channel New Arrivals This Month!,” Bandai Channel, 2006; Macdonald, Christopher. “Top Televised Anime in Japan,” Anime News Network, Mar. 11, 2002; “Anime News in Japan(^^),” Anihabara!, c. 2004.

[3] “How Baltimore Chooses: The Selection Policies of the Enoch Pratt Free Library,” Eighth Edition, 2007, p. 6. According to the most recent annual report of the BCPL (see page 6), the library has over 1.2 million physical items and over 192,000 downloadable items. The Comptroller of Baltimore City notes that the Pratt Library system,  in fiscal year 2020, had over 216 million in capital assets including “books, land, buildings, equipment, fine arts, and special collections” (see pages 5 and 28), while library books are said to have a short life, of only 10 years, less than the buildings or building improvements (see page 19). The library has over 2.3 million items, and 1 million database downloads in fiscal year 2020 (see page 36).

[4] See “Strategic Plan Analysis–Maryland State Library Resource Center (SLRC),” 2018, p. 6, 8; “Uggles and the University of Illinois: a very furry situation indeed!,” 2018, p. 1-7. The Uggles article is where I believe it was this article where I learned about MLJ. I also wrote about preservation, data collection, data creation, and a homeless library, in grad school, and many other topics when in college.

[5] For more information, see these resources about marketing & promotion, this article about how libraries use content to tell stories, the Library of Congress rebrand (which was somewhat controversial), and Ad/Lib which is about advertising in libraries. If you work at a university or are a student, there are some articles of note, like “It’s not just what you know but who you know: Social capital theory and academic library outreach,” “Connecting best practices in public relations to social media strategies for academic libraries,” “Grassroots Strategic Planning: Involving Library Staff from the Beginning,” and “Applying Return on Investment (ROI) in Libraries.”

Categories
comic books Comics fantasy Fiction genres graphic novels Librarians speculative fiction webcomics White people

Fictional Librarian of the Month: Mo Testa in “Dykes to Watch Out For”

Left to right, panels of Mo in episodes 1, 3, 8, 11, and 13

Hello everyone! This continues from the “Fictional Librarian of the Month” entries for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May, with this series focusing on fictional librarian every month, prioritizing those in currently shows, but also covering older shows, using entries from the “List of fictional libraries” from time to time. This month, I’d like to highlight Mo Testa in Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For. Here we go!

About the librarian

Mo’s official description describes her as a “worrier and kvetch extraordinaire, with a job at now-defunct Madwimmin Books on the side” which also notes that she has “since graduated from library school.” It was also said she has a “dedication to social justice combined with red and white striped shirts” and has two cats, specifically named Virginia and Vanessa.

Role in the story

Mo is a protagonist in this series, which became a “countercultural institution among lesbians and discerning non-lesbians all over the planet,” running from 1983 to 2008. In one comic, she applies for a job, but rejects it because previous librarian left as she disagreed with the Patriot Act, staying dedicated to her principles. She is later shown going to school, tries to remain informed, dealing with the death of her cat, and gets a library job. I love how the library was described as the “temple to the written word” in one comic as well.

Does the librarian buck stereotypes?

As a lesbian, she becomes a reference librarian and makes some personal calls at work. In the sense that she is White, female, and wears glasses, she falls into stereotypes of librarians. On the other hand, the fact she is passionate about her beliefs and this translates into her work as a librarian, and that stands against stereotypes.

Any similarity with librarians in other shows?

In some ways, she is similar with another librarian, Amity Blight, in The Owl House, who is a White woman and a lesbian. However, she is such a principled librarian which makes her unlike any other librarian on this blog, even more than someone like Kaisa in Hilda.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Categories
animation Black people fantasy Fiction genres Librarians Libraries magic libraries Pop culture mediums

Fictional Library of the Month: The Stanza in “Welcome to the Wayne”

Image of the Stanza

Hello everyone! This is the eighth edition of my feature series, “Fictional Library of the Month” (see the ones for November, December, January, February, March, April, and May) which includes a post of one fictional library every month, prioritizing currently airing shows, but also including older shows. And with that, this post will focus on the Stanza in Welcome to the Wayne.

About the library

It is a magical library within The Wayne. Clara Rhone is currently the chief librarian of the Stanza itself. It is an important part of the Wayne and it is organized well enough that it is easy to find information.

Role in the story

Apart from Rhone, many others work there like John Keats, Numerous squidgets, and temporarily Ansi Molina. The library is not only the only library located within the Wayne, but it is, as I noted in my post, a

…secret library…[which is] meticulously organized library…contains information on the inhabitants of the Wayne…Information from the library helps Ansi aid his friends…Saraline describes the library as one of the quietest places in the Wayne

Does the library buck stereotypes?

In the sense that it is a library that is well-lit, has people who work there who help patrons, and is not underground, then yes. Otherwise, it falls into the libraries-are-magical idea, which too many fantasies seem to do. It can be problematic as people can than think of librarians as more than people, but somehow those who can do magical things, when they are just doing their jobs, not engaging in magic.

Any similarity with libraries in other shows?

Magical libraries occasionally up on this blog, with the other example I can think of being the one in What …If?, where Doctor Strange goes to a library. In a comment in responding to that post, I noted that:

…there can be harm in the notion that “librarians are magical.” There are some good examples of librarians who have magic, but balance it with their magical abilities, like Kaisa in Hilda, but in other cases, it can more more harmful….I think some animations have tried to make sure that librarians and libraries are shown as valued, like the Stanza in Welcome to the Wayne [is] run by a Black librarian named Clara Rhone, or even, to an extent, the librarian in Trollhunters, Blinky.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

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

“Accosting Mary”: George Bailey and Real-Life Sexual Harassment of Librarians

Mary, in It’s a Wonderful Life, terrified when George demands that she remember them together. In this alternate world, George is basically a creep.

Since 1946, Mary Bailey, otherwise known as Mary Hatch Bailey, a character voiced by Donna Reed in Frank Capra’s now-acclaimed film, It’s a Wonderful Life, has been perpetrating the spinster librarian stereotype. I mentioned this, in my second post on this blog, as have many others, whether cultural critics in the popular press or librarians. They have described Mary as a “lonely,” “weak,” “unhappy,” “homely,” “unmarried,” and visually challenged spinster. When she appears in Pottersville as a librarian, the film portrays her as a “tragedy” and “undesirable,” clearly an insulting portrayal. [1] Others have gone further. They proposed that Mary is happy about being a librarian, that she is better off without George, or is the film’s hero. Apparently, Capra said if he did the film again, he wouldn’t have included the part about Mary as a librarian. [2] Some fan fiction writers even imagined Mary as a librarian, either as the “best librarian” in Pottersville, enjoying her time in a “quiet place” with its collections limited by the town’s directives, or as a supposedly “old maid” in the library. There is a deeper, darker side to the short scene of Mary’s time as a spinster librarian which is glossed over by critics: unwelcome sexual advances by George. It is something which connects to larger issues which librarians, especially women, face on a day-to-day basis.

Before going further, as a fair warning, this post will discuss sexual assault and sexual harassment. If you are triggered by that subject or you do not wish to read about it for one reason or another, please don’t read beyond this paragraph.

By the time George has met Mary, he is drunk. He’s been thrown out of a bar and into the world of Pottersville. He demands that people remember HIM, scaring the townsfolk. After Clarence, who is physically attacked by George, reveals that Mary is an “old maid” who is “just about the close up the library,” George rushes over the library. The “uncomfortable undertones” in this scene are made even worse in the one to come. Mary, who is minding her own business, meets a disheveled man, George, who calls out her name.

He chases her, grabs her arm, asking what has happened to “us.” She rejects him, telling him she doesn’t know him and to let her go. He is persistent. He declares he “needs” her, asks about “their kids.” She screams, runs into a bar, declares there is a “wild man” after her who is chasing her, a correct assessment. George thinks someone will remember him. She asks someone to stop him. People in the bar claim he needs to be in a straitjacket. He keeps declaring that Mary is his wife and she, as a result, faints into the arms of an older woman. A crowd of men have surrounded George and say that the police need to be called. Ernie the cop (seemingly the only cop in the town) arrives. George slugs him in the face and escapes. Ernie wildly fires his gun over and over in George’s direction in a gross, and unnecessary, act of police force. People scream and the scene ends.

That’s telling the whole one minute scene from the perspective of those in the town and from Mary. Perhaps you can say that Mary is “shy, furtive, non-trusting, and scared of men.” This is a change from her personality earlier in the film as “warm and funny and sweet,” as Jennifer Snoek-Brown has explained. Even if we acknowledge this, which I’m willing to grant, what was Mary supposed to do in this situation? George is, if you view it rationally and push away the movie’s narrative which tries to make us sympathize with him, being creepy. He is accosting her, i.e. to approach of speak to someone in an “often challenging or aggressive way.” She runs to ask others for help.

Some have argued that George molested Mary, meaning that he is making unwanted or improper sexual advances toward her, especially to force “physical and usually sexual contact” on another person. [3] Clearly, George should have left her alone. Considering he is a person who humiliated Mary in the real world of Bedford Falls and even brought her to tears in that world, is it any surprise he has an outburst like that in Pottersville? Its not. He is acting like an asshole, a role which Jimmy Stewart overplays a bit. [4]

You could argue, in George’s defense, that he wasn’t thinking of Mary in a sexual way. You could further say that he only harassed her by annoying and bothering her, and physically attacked her, i.e. harassment and assault. These arguments, however, don’t hold water. He saw her as something to fulfill himself as a person, as he was in love with Mary with all his heart, going beyond any sexual advances. She clearly told him “no” in uncertain terms and to get lost.

His actions were unwelcome and uninvited. He made physical contact with her by touching her and grabbing a hold of her. As such, his actions fulfill the other definitions of sexual harassment, like the one outlined by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, commonly known as EEOC. It is harder to prove that he engaged in sexual assault, as that involves “force upon a person without consent or is inflicted upon a person who is incapable of giving consent.” Even so, you could make that argument. George’s actions fall into the category of unwanted sexual attention, although not gender harassment or sexual coercion. [5] Ernie never catches him, he gets away with it, and never suffers any consequences for his actions in any way.

Reportedly, according to Thom Yorke, the song talks about a drunk man who he tries to get attention of a woman he is attracted to, following her around. He later lacks this self-confidence, and feels he subconsciously is her. Not exactly a parallel to George Bailey, but I like the song, so it is here for that reason.

What Mary experiences after-hours, specifically after the library has closed, is not an uncommon experience for librarians within physical or virtual walls of a library. It begins with Melvil Dewey himself,  founder of the American Library Association (ALA) and creator of the Dewey Decimal System. He was a such a serial sexual harasser that he was even expelled from the ALA!

With the pandemic, librarians are experiencing more sexual harassment and intimidation than before. Sometimes, approachable and helpful demeanor is even misinterpreted as an invitation for sexual attraction. This makes librarians more reticent to speak out to the patron (or fellow librarian) or to their managers. Workplaces push librarians to act more approachable to patrons, resulting in librarians feeling uncomfortable after they are harassed, but have little time to process it as they must continue working. To be clear, librarians aren’t there to fulfill people’s personal fantasies, in whatever form those come in.

Some have even argued that managers are unaware of the severity or persistence of harassment. Others have advocated for anti-harassment policies and procedures, and for managers to emphasize the importance of personal safety of staff while standing against “any instances of sexual harassment.” [6] While such policies would be welcome, it can come with the assumption that all managers will be good natured and take claims seriously enough to prevent a toxic workplace. That is a highly unrealistic supposition which will in fact, put librarians in a dangerous spot. This is especially the case when harassment comes from co-workers and can be part of a toxic organizational culture in some libraries. [7]

Often, sexual harassment in libraries is “routinely downplayed, ignored, or outright rejected” as a reality. It is seen as a “woman’s issue” by male managers and administrators, with harassers facing no or few consequences. It then becomes prevalent and endemic due to interactions with the public and the workplace cultures, either as light or verbal physical harassment, including sexual advances. There can be “negative, creepy, disgusting, or frightening encounters” as well, causing librarians to be afraid or even angry. Harassment can be overlooked because many believe that the “unwelcome behavior…is not extreme or not physical does not count as harassment.” They might even think that people are just giving them “nice compliments” or that those harassing them are “harmless weird people.”

This is not unusual. Female-majority professions experience a “high degree of workplace sexual harassment from supervisors, coworkers, and clients.” In response, some librarians have recommended training, clear reporting processes, and changes in workplace culture. Unfortunately, too many libraries don’t have policies for “what to do about sexual harassment” or sexual harassment and sexual assault training. [8] All librarians should work in environments free from harassment. Employers are legally required to prevent a hostile work environment even if a patron harasses a librarian.

There are, added power dynamics at play between librarians and patrons when providing service to patrons in a library. This is an area where that has reportedly been a lack of discussion and research. Such harassment can, in the words of Karen Jensen “change the dynamics of a work environment” while men take offense to female passion at work. Such harassment is about, in her words, “anger and control and wanting to demean…making sure a woman understands her place in the world and at the work place,” even if this is perpetrated against men. It is a conversation which needs to be continued as the ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom (OIF) defends the right of patrons to “unfiltered internet access,” which includes pornography, in the words of James LaRue, formerly the OIF director. [9]

Such harassment is not the fault of any librarians or library workers. Something can be done to change the “culture of sexual harassment in the library,” as Kelly Jensen put it. There is responsibility to build a “toolbox of responses” and pull from if needed, to curb these behaviors. This includes protecting librarian colleagues, librarians, and what makes the library a “special place.” Women are the focus of harassment because the library field is female-majority, they are not the only ones harassed. Men and those of other genders are harassed as well, especially those who are LGBTQ or are people of color. [10]

In the end, even if you think that George Bailey didn’t sexually harass Mary, we can all agree, hopefully, that sexual harassment is wrong. Libraries should be a “safe place for every employee that walks through its doors,” treating each other with respect and professionalism. With soon-to-be-published books like Unwanted Interactions: Patron-perpetrated Sexual Harassment in Libraries, by Danielle Allard, Tami Oliphant, and Angela Lieu, on the horizon, this is bound to be a topic discussed by librarians, on Twitter and elsewhere, for years to come.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.


Notes

[1] Chin, Elleanor. 69 Years of Slut Shaming: Spontaneously Deconstructing It’s a Wonderful Life,” Feministing, Jan. 27, 2015; Zeman, Marybeth. “Being a Librarian—It’s a Wonderful Life,” Public Libraries Online, Dec. 20, 2013; “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Holiday Film Reviews, Feb. 4, 2019; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “Revisiting ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,” Reel Librarians, Dec. 14, 2016; Phelps, Rosa. “The perennial joys of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,” Variety, Dec. 22, 2021; bibliothecario. “Libertine Librarian Comes to Broadway,” The Why? Libraries Blog, Apr. 15, 2009; Snoek-Brown, Jennifer. “What Hollywood Gets Wrong (and Right!) About Librarians,” I Love Libraries, May 26, 2020; VanDerWerff, Emily Todd. “It’s A Wonderful Life shows the unending cost of being good,” A.V. Club, Dec. 21, 2012; Costello, Carol. “Is ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ sexist?,” CNN, Dec. 20, 2017; Westbrook, Georgia. “Libraries and Librarians in the Movies,” Syracuse University School of Information Studies, Apr. 8, 2019; Lingan, John. “Water and Wonder,” The Paris Review, Dec. 14, 2012; Kamiya, Gary. “All hail Pottersville!,” Salon, Dec. 22, 2001; O’ Mahony, Ferdia. “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Dec. 29. 2021; Hesse, Monica. “Mary Bailey is the true hero of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,” Anchorage Daily News, Dec. 24, 2021; Smith, Kyle. “Jump, George, Jump!,” New York Post, Nov. 25, 2007; Grondelski, John M. “Catholics Agree: It’s a Wonderful Life,” Crisis Magazine, Dec. 20, 2016; Sepulveda, Victoria. “I never wanted to watch ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ again. Then 2020 happened.,” SFGate, Dec. 17, 2020; Wilson, Christopher. “What ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ Teaches Us About American History,” Smithsonian Magazine, Dec. 16, 2021; Parker, Luke. “It’s A Wonderful Life: Everything That Changed When George Bailey Wasn’t Born,” ScreenRant, Jan. 6, 2020; Molumby, Deidre. “6 reasons why It’s a Wonderful Life shouldn’t be a Christmas classic as it’s a total downer,” entertainment.ie c. 2017; Atileno, Maria. “It’s a Wonderful Life: How Mary Lost Her Groove,” Pop Goes the Librarian, Dec. 30, 2012; McAllister, Ashley. “From the Library: The Librarian Stereotype on the Big Screen,” Bitch Magazine, Jul. 27, 2010.

[2] Kutner, Rob. “It’s a Wonderful Life: Top Nine Fan Theories,” McSweeney’s, Dec. 24, 2018; “According to Liberals, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is Now Sexist,” Conservative Zone, accessed Jan. 4, 2022; Thompson, Simon. “‘It’s A Wonderful Life’: Inside The Classic Holiday Movie And Why It Is Needed More Than Ever In 2020,” Forbes, Nov. 17, 2020; Hesse, Monica, “Mary Bailey is the true hero of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’,” Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2021; Nero, Dom. “In It’s A Wonderful Life, Pottersville Actually Looks Way More Fun Than Bedford Falls,” Esquire Magazine, Dec. 24, 2019. Some have even asked if the film itself has multiverses or is a sci-fi film or said they like Mary as a librarian.

[3] McAllister, Ashley. “From the Library: The Librarian Stereotype on the Big Screen,” Bitch Magazine, Jul. 27, 2010; Marshall, Jack. ““It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics, Part 3,” Ethics Alarms, Dec. 5, 2011; Barreca, Gina. “The Problem with “It’s a Wonderful Life”,” Psychology Today, Dec. 18, 2021; Schneider, Dan. “A Defense Of It’s A Wonderful Life,” Cosmoetica, Dec. 25, 2005.

[4] Jamieson, Wendell, “Wonderful? Sorry, George, It’s a Pitiful, Dreadful Life,” New York Times, Dec. 18, 2008 (see page 1 here); Nero, Dom. “In It’s A Wonderful Life, Pottersville Actually Looks Way More Fun Than Bedford Falls,” Esquire Magazine, Dec. 24, 2019; Lipsitz, Jordana. “‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ Would Be Different Today,” Bustle, Dec. 24, 2016. Some have even said that you could argue that in Bedford Falls, Mary is either “angelically patient or painfully submissive.” There is a fanfic which goes with the idea that George should have been more honest with Mary. Others have argued that George engaged in physically abusive behavior, or argued that George is a bit of perv (in the minds of those who put together the film’s TV Tropes page). One of the funnier pages was one which portrayed him as a criminal if he was caught for his financial crimes.

[5] These are definitions noted in a 2017 presentation by Amanda Civitello and Katie McLain entitled “It’s Not Just Part of the Job: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Harassment in the Library.” This presentation notes that unwelcome sexual advances and unwelcome touching are examples of harassing behavior.

[6] Beattie, Samantha. “Sexual harassment, intimidation, violence on the job worsened during pandemic, librarians report,” CBCOct. 2, 2021; Amanda Civitello and Katie McLain, “It’s Not Just Part of the Job: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Harassment in the Library,” 2017 Presentation; “Harassing Behaviors Handout,” Waukegan Public Library, Jul. 2017; magpielibrarian, “Please Don’t Say This to a Librarian,” The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian’s Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette, Jul. 9, 2012. There is are the stories of a librarian being sexually assaulted outside of a library in Darby, Pennsylvania, and a woman being assaulted outside a library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (also see here), along with stories of librarians being harassed in Waukegan, Philadelphia, and a library system in California. Don’t be taken in by that strange, anti-child porn site, i.e. SafeLibraries (librarians.cc), which is conservative and has some weird opinions, having it out for the ALA. I don’t care for defending the ALA, the views on SafeLibraries are a bit strange with a weird fascination with the idea that child porn makes people into sexual harassers but not that it could be something else instead? It is also a men’s rights activist site, run by Dan Kleinman, who opposes drag queen story hours and doesn’t seem to believe the idea that librarians should be trusted to filter and select for libraries. He was even sued, at one point, for defamation by the Chicago Library. Whether he is against “free speech” in libraries or not, he is clearly bad news, as a big defender of library filters on library computers.

[7] Valde, Kathleen S. and Henningsen, Mary Lynn Miller. “Facework in Responding to Unethical Communication,” International Journal of
Business Communication 2015, Vol. 52(4): 375, 398. The ALA says in their current guidance that “prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.”

[8] Jensen, Kelly. “Sexual Harassment In Libraries, Post-#MeToo: What Has and Hasn’t Changed?,” Book Riot, Apr. 8, 2019; Ford, Anne. “Stop Sexual Harassment in Your Library,” American Libraries, Nov. 1, 2017; Candice Benjes-Small, Jennifer E. Knievel, Jennifer Resor-Whicker, Allison Wisecup, and Joanna Hunter (2021), “#MeToo in the Academic Library: A Quantitative Measurement of the Prevalence of Sexual Harassment in Academic Libraries,” College & Research Libraries, Vol. 82, No. 5; Gomez, Filiberto Nolasco. “AFSCME Librarians Draw Attention to the Persistence of Sexual Harassment,” Workday Minnesota, Nov. 25, 2019; Jill Barr-Walker, Courtney Hoffner, Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco, and Nisha Mody (2021), “Sexual Harassment at University of California Libraries: Understanding the Experiences of Library Staff Members,” College & Research Libraries, Vol. 82, No. 2; Jensen, Kelly. “The State of Sexual Harassment in the Library,” Book Riot, Oct. 24, 2017. There hasn’t even been a “a keynote speaker headlining a conference which directly addresses sexual harassment in the library” as Jensen pointed out in Book Riot. And still, as the same article (written in 2017) says, the ALA has “no policies nor no guidelines available to members about protecting themselves from sexual harassment in the library.” Nothing has changed since then. There are even the case of a sexual harassment complaint filed by the executive director of the Ogdensburg Public Library against a city councilor dismissed because he “made the statement while as a city councilor…[and] is not subject to review by the state agency; and that the city’s decision about funding the library, as part of a government function,” meaning he can harass people if he is acting as a councilor. As Molly Osterag put it in her comic sharing how she was sexually assaulted by a man she knew, “I know this is not a story that is unique to me.”

[9] Taken to the extreme, this position would support people masturbating in a public library, which is wrong and disgusting. That shouldn’t be done in a public place.

[10] There are many posts on /r/libraries which talk about harassment (by patrons, especially men), a self-gratifying man, the case where librarians were sued by a man for “libelous comments”  (and they later retracted those comments, also noted here; also see here), and those preparing for a presentation about harassment of librarians (maybe one of them is Amanda Civitello or Katie McLain?)

Categories
animated animation fantasy Fiction genres French people Librarians Libraries Movies Pop culture mediums public libraries

Fictional Librarian of the Month: Gabrielle in “I Lost My Body”

Gabrielle speaks to Naoufel in an scene of I Lost My Body

Hello everyone! This continues from the “Fictional Librarian of the Month” entries for November, December, January, February, March, and April, with this series focusing on fictional librarian every month, prioritizing those in currently shows, but also covering older shows, using entries from the “List of fictional librarians” from time to time. This month, I’d like to highlight Gabrielle in I Lost My Body, a mature animated film on Netflix.

About the librarian

Gabrielle, a French librarian who is voiced by Victoire Du Bois (and in the English dub, Alia Shawkat), is a young woman who the protagonist, Naoufel, delivers pizza to, at her apartment complex. I also remember her having to deal with an annoying library supervisor.

Role in the story

The protagonist Naoufel becomes infatuated with Gabrielle, tracking her to the library where she works, even following her to where she drops off medicine to her uncle. He moves closer to Gabrielle, and she, understandably is upset when she feels that Naoufel had taken advantage of her uncle, so he could pursue her. So, she leaves in a rage. Later on, Gabrielle finds an old, abandoned tape recorder of Naoufel and learns he leapt onto a crane. He seems to die, while his severed hand retreats into the snow, away from him.

Does the librarian buck stereotypes?

Described by critics as “elusive” and “thoughtful,” she is different from other librarians mentioned on this blog. When I watched this film, I was pleased and surprised to see a librarian, as I had no preconceptions of the film when going into it. She is definitely a unique character, living up to what one character described as a “hipster Gen Z librarian.” She rides a motorcycle and is a librarian. Cool.

Any similarity with librarians in other shows?

Not that I can think of. I suppose she reminds me, on some level of Kino in Kino’s Journey, which I started a while back, but Kino is no librarian. So, she is clearly a unique character on many levels, wearing headphones just like people have drawn Kaisa in Hilda in the past, as she has been shown wearing headphones in the past.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Categories
animation fantasy Librarians Libraries White people

Fictional Library of the Month: Blinky’s library in “Tales of Arcadia”

Blinky overjoyed with reading in the episode “Party Monster,” while others read books behind him

Hello everyone! This is the seventh edition of my feature series, “Fictional Library of the Month” (see the ones for November, December, January, February, March, and April) which includes a post of one fictional library every month, prioritizing currently airing shows, but also including older shows. And with that, this post will focus on Blinky’s library in the Tales of Arcadia third-part series.

About the library

The library consists of books that Blinky has collected in one way or another. It is, like the rest of the troll dwellings, underground.

Role in the story

The characters come to the library on multiple occasions to find information to help them fight evil. Blinky is more than happy to oblige with this, loving to read books and share knowledge.

Does the library buck stereotypes?

Not necessarily. The order and organization of the library itself is haphazard and seems more like a book storage room than a library. It is a miracle the characters are able to find what they are looking for.

Any similarity with libraries in other shows?

It isn’t necessarily a magic library, like other shows, in that it seems to consist of books that Blinky either got from his brother, or are ones he collected on his own. So, in that way, it is not like other series.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Categories
animation fantasy Libraries magic libraries

Fictional Library of the Month: High Guardian Academy Library in “High Guardian Spice”

The protagonists, and audience, first see the library of High Guardian Spice on fire, in the show’s 12th episode.

Hello everyone! This is the sixth edition of my feature series, “Fictional Library of the Month” (see the ones for November, December, January, February, and March) which includes a post of one fictional library every month, prioritizing currently airing shows, but also including older shows. And with that, this post will focus on the High Guardian Academy library in High Guardian Spice.

About the library

The library plays an important role in some episodes, a place where people can study and learn more. It is filled with books and materials, although it is not known how many are within the library itself.

Role in the story

Apart from one episode where characters meet in the library, in the show’s twelfth episode, a villain lights it on fire. While the protagonists put it out at first, they are unable to do so later on as they chase him outside the school grounds. As such, the library is likely very damaged and needs repair after his attack.

Does the library buck stereotypes?

In the sense that it is a place that is well-lit, above-ground, and is used by people, I suppose so. However, unlike many of the other libraries on this site, apart from those in Read or Die / R.O.D. the TV and Mysticons, this library is literally burned and set on fire. So that makes it unique.

Any similarity with libraries in other shows?

It is presumably a magic library, so in that sense, it does have similarities with libraries in series such as Welcome to the Wayne, Hilda, What…If?, Lolirock, and Mysticons, all of which have magic libraries. On the other hand, it is unique in and of itself.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.

Categories
adventure Comics fantasy Fiction genres Librarians speculative fiction webcomics White people

Fictional Librarian of the Month: Barebones in “Brownie and Barebones”

Barebones behind the information desk in the episode “Dereck (part four)

Hello everyone! This continues from the “Fictional Librarian of the Month” entries for November, December, January, February, and March with this series focusing on fictional librarian every month, prioritizing those in currently shows, but also covering older shows, using entries from the “List of fictional libraries” from time to time. This month, I’d like to highlight Barebones in the webcomic Brownie and Barebones, one of my favorite webcomics.

About the librarian

Barebones is a part-time human and dragon who lives with Brownie, a hapless artist, and has a boss who is a workaholic. This includes working as a librarian at a local library from time to time. He also, according to the Q&A, met Brownie in the library.

Role in the story

He is one of the webcomic’s protagonists and he goes on adventures with Brownie when he isn’t at work and she isn’t at the university. He is told to catalogue books and help patrons. He has occasional adventures in the library with Brownie. In a sense, he helps his boss, Anthony, get a boyfriend later in the series, as he likes hunky men. He is gay, while his boyfriend, Dereck, is bisexual, according to the Q&A.

Does the librarian buck stereotypes?

In the sense that he doesn’t want to do his job and slacks off from work, yes. Also, he is not shown shushing anyone. He also steals books from the library, so in that way he is a bad librarian. Sometimes he accidentally lights books on fire too.

Any similarity with librarians in other shows?

In the sense that he wears glasses, yes. However, he is British and there aren’t that many series I have watched as of yet, with British librarians, so that makes him different from other librarians. He also is skipping out on work all the time, more interested in going on adventures than going to the library where a strict Anthony is his boss.

© 2022 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.