"This is a library, after all."- Kaisa, the librarian of Trolberg. On this blog, I review animation, movies, and other cultural mediums, attempting to counter stererotypes of libraries and librarians, while reminding people what libraries (and librarians) are all about.
Happy Better Hearing and Speech Month! For this post I’ll be focusing on fictional librarians and the importance of storytime.
Storytime is a vital program at many libraries, specifically public libraries. As Tom Bruno writes, storytime is “a great free form of entertainment for parents looking for activities for their children…[and] can provide a bonanza of cognitive benefits,” serving as the “heart and soul of the library…[and] showcases the depth and breadth of your local public library’s commitment to your community with respect to early literacy and child development.”
More than any other character, this is evident for Amity Blight in The Owl House. First shown working in the children’s section of the Bonesborough Library in the episode “Lost in Language”, in a flashback in the episode “Understanding Willow” and most recently in the episode “Through the Looking Glass Ruins”, Amity understands what Bruno is saying to some extent. Whether she knows about the cognitive benefits of reading to children or enjoys it, the fact is that she is comfortable with this activity, even if she ends up getting embarrassed when seeing her-later girlfriend, Luz Noceda.
Amity, who is voiced by the talented Mae Whitman, also has the distinction of being a student, a lesbian,and wears her hair up, but not in a hair bun like some librarians are shown stereotypically to do. Instead, she wears a pony tail. Her look somewhat resembles those who work in religious libraries as I noted in a post this past November. All in all she displays the importance of the library as a welcoming place for all and reading itself, as I’ve pointed out.
More to the point than Amity is Millie, a librarian voiced by Johanna Stein. More than 15 minutes into the Madagascar: A Little Wild episode “Melman at the Movies”, Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, and Gloria the Hippo go inside the library to the pop-up books section, where they enjoy the pop-up books. Later, Melman the Giraffe finally joins his friends inside, after it starts raining. Melvin finds a book with the ending to the film, but none of them know how to read.
Following this, the librarian, Millie, announces that storytime starts in 15 minutes in the reading room. They have a plan to replace the book she is going to read with another one so they can know the end to the story, using the slide ladder in hopes of getting behind the librarian’s desk to change the book before she returns.
After that, one of the elderly patrons thinks he hears something, then goes back to reading his book. Melvin tries a distraction but it doesn’t work and they are unable to pull off the book swap. But, Melman is happy nonetheless and sings a song. His actions cause the book to drop from the shelf, with the librarian shrugging as storytime begins. They are pleased with hearing the end of the book which they had looked forward to in the first place.
Through it all, Millie, who is shown shushing after she hears a loud sound, i.e. Melman’s “distraction”, is pretty chill. When a book falls from the top of a book case and on the information desk, a strange occurrence, she shrugs her shoulders and takes it in her hand, preparing to read that book rather than another one instead.
Her character has to be the most realistic depiction of a librarian doing storytime that I’ve seen to date. Perhaps there is another fictional librarian out there, apart from Amity, who could do it better, but I’m not sure who. None of the librarians I’ve covered extensively on this blog, like Clara Rhone in Welcome to the Wayne or Kaisa in Hilda are ever shown reading books to children. Neither is Myne/Main in Ascendance of a Bookworm, George and Lance in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and the unnamed presumably Thai librarian in We Bare Bears, to name a few, do this either. Perhaps it isn’t in their job descriptions.
In any case, storytime is described by libraries across the U.S. as important for developing “early literacy skills” of children, makes learning fun, teaches children to read, and helps build child development, ensuring “strong, resilient families.”  Again, it is not known whether Millie or Amity is aware of this. Even so, they likely realize its importance and enjoy reading stories to kids.
This month is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To honor that, I’m focusing on six librarians of Asian descent which I’ve come across when watching animation since I began this blog, excluding the over 50 Japanese fictional librarians I’ve listed on this blog in the past. With that, let me get started!
There are four librarians who are arguably from Southeast Asia. One of the earliest I came across is an unnamed librarian in an episode of We Bare Bears aptly named “The Library”. Although it is not directly stated, she is a woman of Thai descent since Ashly Burch, who is presumably her voice actor, is half-Thai, with her mother from Thailand and her father from the U.S., making her multiracial. However, in an interview for The Nerds of Color she told them “I was used to relating to characters that were either white or other types of Asian,” adding “I’ve never gotten to play a Thai character” before voicing Molly McGee, the protagonist of The Ghost and Molly McGee.
So perhaps the librarian was not directly Thai, but portrayed as just in the “other types of Asian” category? No matter, because she is still a librarian of color regardless, with the fandom page for the episode identifying her as Thai, confirming what I’ve stated before.  In the episode, this librarian is frustrated with the protagonists, goes on break, and seems harsh at first, wanting them to pay their late fee. She later appears to be overwhelmed and suffering from burnout. In the end, she ends up helping them and seems to let them sleep in the library overnight. The latter is unique because usually that would never be allowed. But, perhaps she saw them working so steadily that she let them stay there and rest in peace. It’s hard to know.
It is worth pointing out, for reference, there are several levels of education for librarianship in Thailand and there’s library organizations like the Thai Library Association. The group describes libraries as a “driving force of society” for knowledge and learning. It also has a code of ethics which prioritizes user convenience, professional ethics, being strong social leaders, and more. None of this would apply to the aforementioned librarian, as We Bare Bears is set in the San Francisco Bay Area and more particularly in San Francisco itself. At first I thought she would, as such, be working at the San Francisco Public Library. Looking at the image shown of the library at the beginning of the episode, I looked at images of one of the many branches within the library system itself. None of them seemed to align with the image.
The Glesson Library seemed like a good guess, from the images I saw, and it didn’t look like the Prelinger Library either. It made me think a little about the J. Paul Leonard and Sutro Library, as the image looked a little similar, but that didn’t seem right either. I can’t, for the life of me, figure out what library this is! It isn’t the Mission Bay FAMRI Library, Parnassus Campus Library, or ZSFG Library. Although Chloe goes to the University of California, it would make sense it is at a UC library.
According to World Cat, one edition of the Fourth Edition of Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry is available at UCSD Library in San Diego at Stanford University Libraries, and another at Southern Regional Library Facility in L.A., and Langston Library in Irvine, California. Another version is available at UCSB Library in Santa Barbara, California. None of those are near San Francisco, or in the Bay Area, though. Digging into Chloe’s fandom page it states that “her college is most likely based off of UC Berkeley” but also states that another possibility for her college is “based on is California State University of Los Angeles.” Although I think the creators may have based the library on real life, I also think it could have just been created by the animators to look that way and not connected to a real location.
Coming back to the characters, the aforementioned librarian contrasts with the Flippy in the Happy Tree Friends episode “Random Acts of Silence“. Voiced by Kenn Navarro, a Filipino actor, he is one unique librarian, to say the least. At first, he stamps books, shushes people, takes a chair away from a patron, and sharpens a pencil from another. He soon becomes annoyed when a patron is making a lot of noise and the amount of noise gets to him. It makes him so angry he begins murdering patrons in the most cruel ways possible whether by using pencils through the eyes, with a pencil sharpener, with paper, a sword. Yikes! Through all of this, he still checks out a book to a patron and shushes the viewer at the end.
This is also different from Wong, a man from Hong Kong, voiced by Benedict Wong, in an episode of What If…? entitled “What If… Doctor Strange Lost His Heart Instead of His Hands?” Sometimes Hong Kong is considered part of Southeast Asia, even though officially it is part of the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China. In any case, in the episode Wong helps Dr. Strange with his magical powers and fight to save the world from another version of himself. He is a librarian by association with the live-action films where he is shown as a librarian, although he isn’t directly a librarian in the episode.
Then, there’s Karma in Mekanix, who is a Vietnamese woman and is also a lesbian Mekanix is a six issue comic book limited series published from 2002 to 2003, which Chris Claremont wrote, Juan Bobillo pencilled and Marcelo Sosa inked. In the first issue it is noted she is a librarian who has the power to possess people and is also named Shan. Later issues introduce Katherine “Kitty” Pryde, former member of the X-Men, who has a shrink. It also turns out that Shan is a mutant as well and may be in love with Kitty, who is proud to be a mutant and a Jew. Kitty is also known as “Shadowcat.”
Sadly, the police suspect her of causing an explosion and turn her apartment upside down, even though she did nothing wrong, and she is at odds with Nazis known as “Purity” who are anti-mutant. It turns out that someone helped hack into the network and caused the explosion, while Kitty is on the run from terrorists out to kill her. Unfortunately, Shan is never shown as a librarian, just as an aspiring one in this comic, with hair that looks blue in a certain light.
She is shown as a badass with two kids and fighting robots with Kitty, though, who fights racists like no one’s business. However, according to her Wikipedia page, she worked as librarian for the University of Chicago as a student, as indicated in Mekanix, and later, in New Mutants working as a librarian and French teacher.
In the latter, which is Vol. 2 of the collected edition, issues 4-7, where she is called Xi’an Coy Manh, and has a different appearance. In issue 4, she graduates from University of Chicago. She then later works as a librarian, shown behind the information desk, and helps some fellow students, even looking out a book for one, but he leaves before she can get the book. She later stands up for a fellow student who is a mutant.
Then, in issue 5, she looks at books at the Xavier Institute, and talks to Professor Xavier, and investigates into anti-Mutant groups. In later issues, she continues to fight those groups, and it indicates she is a teacher, specifically at the Xavier Institute.
Last but not least is Mira (voiced by Leela Ladnier), and her father, Sahil (voiced by Aasif Mandvi), in Mira, Royal Detective, which is set in 19th-century India, mostly taking place in the city of Jalpur. In the episode “The Case of the Missing Library Book”, Mira brings a mobile library to town. She even sings a song about it in the same episode and they (she and Sahil) do some library duties, and go on the case of finding a missing library book.
Later, in the episode “The Case of the Lost Puppy”; Mikku and Chikku help Mira return books to the mobile library. Then, in “Mystery At The Sweet Sale“; Mira and others participate in a bake sale to raise money for the mobile library, so they can buy more materials. In this case, the more sweets they sell, more ability to fill empty shelves of the library, which is a good deal, if I ever heard one!
 The same page claims there is an elderly librarian in the episode. I’m not sure about that only because I’m not sure if the elderly woman is supposed to be a librarian or if she is just a helpful elderly patron. Interestingly, the Black librarian shown in episode 1 is shown sitting at a table with two other presumed librarians (a Black man with glasses and a White man), at one point, which I noticed on a rewatch, which I never noticed before, and then a second time.
Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, October, November, and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of 2022, and January, February, and March 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. Unfortunately, there were no animated series or films with libraries I came across this past month, but I did come across a good deal in comics, whether in graphic novels or webcomics, along with other entries. Hopefully, there will be more that I find in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, October, November, and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, and December of 2022, and January and February 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.
Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, October, November, 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.
Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, October, November, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November 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. Hopefully there will be more animated series, films, or other entries with libraries or librarians in the days, weeks, and months to come, but I did come across a good deal in comics and anime this past month.
Building upon the titles listed for July/August, September, October, November, and and December 2021, and January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October 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.
Happy Intersex Day of Remembrance! Today is designed to raise awareness of the issues faced by intersex people and marks the birthday of Herculine Barbin, a French intersex person. It began as Intersex Solidarity Day, following an invitation issued by Joëlle-Circé Laramée, who was then the Canadian spokeswoman for Organization Intersex International. It is related, but different, from Intersex Awareness Day, which highlights human rights issues faced by intersex people and is celebrated every October 26th. I struggled to find intersex characters who are also librarians, only finding a passing reference on one blog.  To give a quick definition for those unaware, intersex people are those born with “reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male,” as noted by the Intersex Society of North America.
There are a few intersex characters who would undoubtedly be library users. One of those is Stevonnie in Steven Universe, who is intersex and non-binary, as a fusion of two friends, Connie and Steven. This is clearly the case in the long fan fiction series, “An Unlikely Alliance Against Evildoers” where Queen Angella gives Stevonnie a book from their private library. This is not unique to this one character, as there are intersex library patrons in real life as well. In June 2020, the ALA acknowledged this much, writing:
…[the] ALA seeks to support all transgender people, and…intersex people (who may or may not identify as trans)…ALA encourages library leaders and staff to create safe environments for gender diverse, transgender, and intersex library users, allowing everyone access to facilities, activities, and programs that are consistent with their gender identity and where possible providing gender-neutral restroom options for individuals who would prefer to use them
It has also been noted in LibGuides, FAQs, and in books exploring intersex identities. As the Charlie McNabb of the GLBT Roundtable Resources Committee stated in the beginning of a guide on intersex people, intersex does not mean thesame thing as transgender, even “though some intersex people do not identify with the genderthey were assigned.” Others pointed out how Library of Congress Subject Headings (LSCH) classifies intersex people,  noted an edited collection on LGBTQ themes, or that some intersex people may be non-binary. Others provided lists of intersex non-fiction and noted it is one way that people identify themselves.
Apart from the images on Wikimedia related to intersex people, including some from the British Library and elsewhere, some libraries have even hosted events on intersex activism. David Cameron Stratchan and Jim Van Buskirk made clear the responsibility of libraries to serve intersex library patrons:
Users may personally identify as intersex or they may be doing research on behalf of a family or friend…Libraries need to acknowledge intersex people with affirming information resources and services…libraries are obligated to make a concerted effort to provide distinct, intersex-specific resources and services. 
Apart from this, there are those which have written that “scientific evidencedoes not support the two sex theory” and that “the matrix of sex and gender” is unstable.  Some have pointed to a small number of records on intersex people in their library systems. Intersex people are, as a button states, just born that way. And we should respect that. Otherwise, I hope to find more characters who are intersex and are librarians in the future, and if so, I may have a more substantive post next year. That’s my hope, at least.
 While Ryo Asuka in Devilman Crybaby is a professor and intersex, he is not a librarian. The same can be said about Crimvael in Interspecies Reviewers, Luca Esposito in Astra Lost in Space, Iena Madaraba in Seton Academy: Join the Pack!, Ruby Moon in Cardcaptor Sakura, and Izana Shinatose in Knights of Sidonia. The same can be said for other characters listed on the “List of fictional intersex characters” Wikipedia page, sad to say.