As I wrote about back February 2021, libraries appear repeatedly in The Simpsons, time and again. Instead of covering the episodes I mentioned in that post,  I’d like to focus on the librarians within the series, then later about the libraries in the series. There are at least fourteen librarians shown in the course of the series, and even more if some librarians are counted as different characters.
In “The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace”, Homer reads about Thomas Edison at the Springfield Elementary School library because they won’t let him in the “big people library” in downtown Springfield because of some “unpleasantness.” The school librarian, an elderly White lady, asks him if he is a student at the school, and he says yes. She undoubtedly kicks him out after that. She questions whether he is a valid patron, which is understandable, but it would have made more sense to have him go about his business in the library instead.
The same librarian appears again in “Brother’s Little Helper”, where she almost gets run over by Bart’s tank. In another episode, “Sweets and Sour Marge” there is a book sale at the Old Springfield Library, the main library in Springfield which apparently has a “serious bat problem in the filing cabinets,” and has old books like calendars and diaries. It is often visited by Lisa. In that episode, Homer mocks the library selling books, asking why he would want to buy books from the library. Comic Book Guy buys books on Spock and Scotty, Nick Rivera reads a book about human anatomy entitled Grey’s Anatomy, and Lisa buys a cart full of books, saying she has to “save” them after Marge tells her she can’t buy more than her weight in books. There is even a scene after this of the aforementioned librarian feeding chopping up books and feeding them to pigs, ha. No books are sacred here.
The episode also features another unnamed librarian who is working at the cash register and looks much more formal and proper than the above librarian. Marge convinces Homer to get a book entitled the Duff Book of World Records which has photographs of deformities, making him laugh. After Lisa says tavern, he drives to Moe’s because she said the word, with Marge yelling she never agreed to that rule. He later uses the book throughout the episode.
In another episode, “Eeny Teeny Maya, Moe”, Moe tells the story of surfing the web at the local public library with occasional drinking fountain breaks, where he is going back and forth with another woman, Maya. He then calls the “Crazy Cat Lady” a man, and she throws cats on him. He says he would do anything to chat with Maya apart from buying an actual computer. Maya calls him cute and he dances a little with the elderly librarian, who is confused by the whole ordeal, before he leaves the library.
She finally appears in “No Good Read Goes Unpunished”. In that episode, in which she closes the library with reduced hours of operation, because after a certain point in the day the silverfish take over the library. Milhouse is trapped inside while covered with silverfish, just wanting to renew his library card. After that, the Simpsons family goes to a book-themed department store, then a bookstore with old books, some of which Bart is interested in. Unlike her other episodes, she is voiced by Tress MacNeille rather than Maggie Roswell, who had voiced her in previous episodes.
Apart from her, there is another librarian (voiced by Tress MacNeille) who briefly appears in the episode “Bart the Mother”. She looks even more of a spinster librarian than any of the others shown so far. This is after Bart watches a film about taking care of birds from Troy McClure (voiced by Phil Hartman). This episode marks Hartman’s last speaking appearance. This librarian tells Reverend Lovejoy that he has checked out the bible every weekend for the last nine years and asks him if it would be easier to just buy a Bible instead. He says he could do that on a “librarian’s salary,” implying that librarians make a lot of money, even though they do not. Although BLS statistics say that Librarians and Library Media Specialists earn an average of $60,820 per year, equivalent to $29.24 per hour, the more common Library Technicians and Assistants only earn, on average, $31,840 per year, equivalent to $15.31 per hour. That’s barely living wage! Disgusting if you ask me. That pay should definitely be higher, without a doubt.
There are two librarians that appear in the season 6 episode “Lisa’s Wedding”: a human librarian and a robot librarian. Lisa, in this future vision, goes to the reference desk where the librarian is and she types on her calculator and says that the book she needs was checked out by Hugh Parkfield. They both try to compete with each other in reading the book, then end up kissing one another. The one librarian quips that at one point Hugh and Lisa hated each other, then love each other, with the other librarian saying it doesn’t make sense to her because she is a robot, then her head melts. The voice actors of both librarians are sadly not known at this current time.
We also see other librarians in the series. This includes the library clerk in “Bart’s Girlfriend” voiced by Hank Azaria. He runs the young adult section at a library in Springfield and Lisa has a crush on him, while he also dates Jessica Lovejoy at one point. Lisa thinks she can “tame” him, even though she calls him “well-read and just a little wild.” There’s is, additionally, an unnamed prison librarian (voiced by Tress MacNeille) in “Dial “N” for Nerder”. Lisa imagines herself as an older prisoner, with this librarian passing her jail cell with a trolley of books, asking whether she had Joyce Carol Oates. The librarian said she only had Danielle Steel, causing Lisa to scream in terror. This is significant because this librarian is perhaps the only prison librarian that I’ve ever seen in animation. Hopefully I see more in the future.
Prison libraries can be restricted, even though what they do can lead to empowerment of inmates. Such libraries, situated within prisons, can arguably be described as what Jeff Hirschy calls prison institutions, or those institutions in which a librarian or archivist “serves an oppressive higher power.” There is also an endless information void in prisons. In addition, grim prison life can eclipse the potential of prison library, and the service provided is not even. Some prison libraries are better than others. Furthermore, the case of Lisa, she is in a prison, rather than a jail, as a prison is operated at the state or federal level, housing inmates with long-term convictions while jails are run by a county or city, housing inmates who are awaiting trial or with short-term convictions. It makes sense there are library services in the prison she is in, because longer conviction terms of prisoners means that it is more likely there would be a library, while in jails, such libraries are less common. 
There are three other librarians I’d like to mention. The first two, an unnamed librarian voiced by Pamela Hayden and another named Martha voiced by Tress MacNeille are in the episode “The Color Yellow” and are hinted as lesbians, working at the Old Springfield Library. Martha tells Lisa that there are no books about Eliza Simpson, but she did find a cookbook by Eliza’s mother.
She calls Martha “the best” for finding this as Lisa and Marge read the book with a story about one of Lisa’s ancestors. Later, Lisa returns to the library and tells her about the film vault, giving her the key to it. The unnamed librarian asks Martha about the film vault and says that they hooked up there during the Christmas Party. Lisa then watched a documentary which interviews Eliza Simpson and continues to be disappointed. The unnamed librarian appears in the episode “Grift of the Magi” as well. In that episode, she is teaching a class in which they are trying to come with a name for a toy and Lisa gets in trouble for doing math in class, having to write on a chalkboard.
Then there’s Ms. Norton (voiced by Maggie Roswell), a librarian at Springfield Public Library, who “is on friendly terms with Lisa.” In the episode “Dead Putting Society”, Lisa says hello to her, as does a man named Ralph and a group of old men and women reading books. She helps Bart by showing him the card catalogs, finding him a book on golf putting. Bart is shown next carrying a stack of books, including a book by Lao-Tzu, The Tao-Te Ching. She even tells Bart they are borrowing the books, after he wonders if they can afford them.
Then in “Lisa the Greek”, Lisa goes to the very quiet public library, which has some new signs and banners up. Ms. Norton claims it has been a “madhouse” after Lisa says the signs are working, with Lisa then checking the card catalog, looking for books on football. Following this, in the episode “Homer Goes to College”, presumably the same librarian is shown with dark skin and hair. Homer, in one scene, wheels a stack of books out of the Springfield University Library, as she looks in, part of his cramming for a college test. Even in that episode, Maggie Roswell appears, although the librarian has no lines. 
Other than this, there is a brief scene in “Sideshow Bob Roberts” where Lisa and Bart go into the Old Springfield Library and bats come flying out of the card catalog. Then, in “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge”, Marge sneaks into the public library to find out about who Becky really is, and comes across a stories, while looking through the microfilm, which she thinks prove Becky as a bad person, but believes she has been unfair to Becky.
Then, in “Margical History Tour”, Lisa talks to an elderly librarian who says they don’t have books, but they are a multimedia learning center for those of all ages, but mostly bums. Lisa complains that there are hardly any books at all. Marge agrees to help them, saying she knows a little about history. Nelson later trips Milhouse and takes his book, hilariously declaring “the library, really is a great resource!,” adding that he only came in to trip nerds. Lisa later complains she can’t find anything on Sacagawea, beginning another story from Marge. She later tells Bart another story, this one about Mozart. Liza later criticizes Marge’s story, saying it sounds a lot like the movie Amadeus.
In many ways, this episode connects with technocratic themes which I wrote about this past August, noting an article about the technocratic library “of the future.” Such a library is possible with all the data collection today, even with datasets of certain people not collected at all, a date divide between those who are data-rich and data-poor. Some have argued that libraries need to encourage and help library patrons analyze and contribute knowledge which is created with this data, and called on libraries to create an inclusive climate so patrons can engage with this data. However, there continue to be data quality issues which plague researchers, even as there is push for open data, data literacy, critical skills by librarians despite the limits of data. 
The main library in Springfield is more than than the one-story building which comprises the Springfield Public Library.  This library make an appearance in the episode “Like Father, Like Clown” when Lisa looks through the card catalog, looking for books on Judaism and takes notes on what she found. Bart comes with her and looks at pop-up books. He attempts to convince Krusty’s father to make up with him, using the knowledge that Lisa is finding. His attempts fail and Lisa gives him one last paper, hoping it will work, even though she calls it a long-shot to convince him, apart from learning Ancient Hebrew. At long last, they get through to him after Bart quotes from a book by Sammy Davis, Jr.
Then in the episode in “HOMЯ”, after the crayon is taken out of Homer’s brain, he becomes smart, and reading lots of books, just like Lisa. This also ends up changing his personality too. This is followed by a flashback in the episode “The Kids Are All Fight” in which six years prior, after a librarian read a book during storytime, Bart and Lisa fought, hitting each other with books, while Marge looks on, worried. Following this, A security guard then escorts them out, telling them in a quiet voice to leave, shouting as he opens the door to let them outside, not wanting such violence in the library. Finally, in “Looking for Mr. Goodbart”, Bart goes to the library to ask the librarian, possibly voiced by Valerie Harper who has voiced various characters over the years, how he looks up a word. He hands her his phone and asks how much he owes her. At first she hesitates, then asks him for five dollars, and pockets the money. BOO! Bad librarian!
On the whole, the librarians in The Simpsons episodes all have different styles. Some have a more relaxed style, while others are more formal. The episodes themselves consistently show libraries as places of information, learning, and knowledge, used especially by Lisa. The episodes also highlight information deficits. This includes silverfish causing a library to be closed certain hours, or another when a library is extremely scaled back (having no books on the shelves), justified by turning it into a multimedia center. The latter could almost be considered a criticism of efforts to undermine librarians and libraries across the U.S. It is equivalent to Philip J. Fry’s speech at the end of a Futurama episode which talks about the value of local libraries.
At the same time, some of the librarians can fall into existing stereotypes with spinster librarians, although others easily buck that, like the two lesbian librarians in “The Color Yellow.” Sadly, the librarians in the series are not very diverse. They are almost all White except for the one in “Homer Goes to College” and she is only shown briefly. Other series, like We Bare Bears, Welcome to the Wayne, What If…?, Elena of Avalor, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, to name a few, have done better than The Simpsons when it comes to showing librarians who are not White. Hopefully, this changes in future episodes as the show goes forward, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that, as the show has become a bit of a zombie series.
© 2023 Burkely Hermann. All rights reserved.
 I’m talking about “Bart the General,” and “Cape Feare,” or the library jokes in “Marge the Lam” and “Last Tap Dance in Springfield” or the mentions in “Much Apu About Nothing,” “Bart After Dark,” “I Love Lisa,” “Lisa’s Substitute,” “Lady Bouvier’s Lover,” “Homerpalooza,” “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish,” “Homer vs. Patty and Selma,” “You Only Move Twice,” “Treehouse of Horror VI,” “Krusty Gets Busted,” and “Some Enchanted Evening.”
 Jeff Hirschy, “Social Justice and Birmingham Collecting Institutions: Education, Research, and Reference Librarianship” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 90 and also discussed briefly on page 91; Kate Adler, “Towards a Critical (Affective) Reference Practice: Emotional, Intellectual and Social Justice” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 107; Emily Jacobson, “Reference by Mail to Incarcerated People” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 157; Erin Rivero, Marisa Hernandez, Stephanie Osorio, and Vanessa Villareal, “Dispatches from the Field of Prison Librarianship” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 165, 167; Joshua Finnell, “2596 Girl School Road: The Indiana Women’s Prison Far-Away Reference Desk” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 114.
 She also appears in “Marge On The Lam” with brown hair, at the very beginning of the episode, sitting at a table, as part of a pledge drive, by a phone. She is not shown in a library during the episode.
 Julia Marden, “The Case for Critical Data Reference in Public Libraries” in Reference Librarianship & Justice: History, Practice & Praxis (ed. Kate Adler, Ian Beilin, & Eamon Tewell, Library Juice Press: Sacramento, CA: 2018), p. 189-193, 195-7.
 The Springfield Public Library is also mentioned in the episode “Much Apu About Nothing”. It also apparently appears in The Simpsons Movie, the comic book “A Chair of One’s Own” and the video games Virtual Springfield, and The Simpsons: Hit and Run. The library is also shown briefly in the beginning of the episode “Lost Verizon” when Nelson is holding Martin Prince. As for the Old Springfield Library also appears in The Simpsons: Tapped Out and is pictured in “Separate Vocations”. I believe the same is the case in the episodes “Dog of Death”, and “In Marge We Trust”.