Fantastic librarians, or librarian fantasies?

In a recent post, I enthused about a few of my favorite fictional librarians, and invited others to share their favorites. The suggestions that followed were many and varied, ranging from Public Librarian Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, to Henry DeTamble from Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, to Garth Nix’s Lirael, who is given a job as Assistant Librarian, which turns her whole life around. There were nods to Armbruster, the crotchety monk librarian from Walter Miller’s post-apocalyptic classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, and Jane from Mindy Klasky’s Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft, the buttoned-down Rupert Giles of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame, and the librarian witch Ophelia in Shirley Damsgaard’s Ophelia & Abby mysteries. One reader raved about Lucien, the chief librarian in the Dreaming from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series (“He’s stylish, kind, ethical, and gracefully manages to succeed in exemplary professional practice in quite a difficult environment”), while over in the Science Fiction aisle Signals Officer Adele Mundy from David Drake’s Lt. Leary series was mentioned, as was Sandra Foster from Connie Willis’ delightful Bellwether.

                                       Do you sense a pattern emerging here?

Could it be that librarians’ staid image is now bursting the seams of naturalistic fiction and spilling forth into the realms of imagination and empires of wonder? Are librarians truly fantastic, or are we just indulging in librarian fantasies? And what does it say about our supposed serious demeanor when possibly the most revered fictional librarian of all time is an orangutan? You’ll have to read The Color of Magic, first title in Terry Pratchett’s hilarious and perennially popular Discworld series, to learn just how The Librarian at the Unseen University Library became an ape, Continue reading “Fantastic librarians, or librarian fantasies?”

More Librarians in Fact & Fiction

Sensible shoes.  Hair in a bun.  Glasses perched on the tip of a nose.  Tweed suits.  Do you recognize the occupation?  Shhhhh!  Whisper the answer!  You’re in the library!  Yes, librarians have been battling this stereotype for years.  Thankfully, books are helping us change our image.

While some books work subtly to show librarians in a different light, others make it their mission.  There are books about librarians in every genre, and for readers of every age.  Romance in the library?  Yes, indeed.  Try The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr.  While librarian Alison Sheffield outwardly fits the librarian stereotype, behind the scenes she’s solving a murder, investigating a library break-in, and, of course, falling madly in love. 

If your busy schedule allows only for short bursts of reading, check out In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians, edited by Michael Cart.  This collection includes classic, as well as modern, short stories, from authors well known to unknown.  You’ll be hooked in short order.  Or take a break from the comics in your daily newspaper, and delve into the six volumes of Unshelved Comics, by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum. You may be surprised Continue reading “More Librarians in Fact & Fiction”

Unleash your inner librarian!

image-of-library-stamp-courtesy-of-exlibrisWhat are the odds? The brand spanking new Library of Congress subject heading for “Public Libraries – California – anecdotes’” is getting quite a workout. In the past six months we have seen the publication of two humorous memoirs by librarians in the Los Angeles area: Don Borchert’s Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library and Scott Douglass’s Quiet Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian. They’re both entertaining slices of the library life (or as I like to call it, “The Game”), and I recommend them both. You may have to get in line, as they are both proving to be very popular, and not just with library staff either! It seems a lot of you are interested in exploring your inner librarian. While you’re waiting to get a behind-the-scenes look at the glamorous, high-stakes world of public librarianship, let me introduce some of my favorite fictional librarians.

Meet Cassandra Mitchell, librarian of the small town of Sechelt, British Columbia. While perhaps less well-known than the prim and plucky Miss Helma Zukas just down the coast in Bellehaven, Miss Mitchell is smart, compassionate, resourceful, sexy, Continue reading “Unleash your inner librarian!”