Mon
Jul 14 2014 12:00pm

A Long Overdue Nod to SciFi and Fantasy’s Best Librarians

Doctor Who Library Donna

Chances are the Doctor won’t be showing up at your local library anytime soon—unless, of course, you have an infestation of Vashta Nerada (in which case, don’t forget to count the shadows!). But whether in fantasy or science fiction, there are any number of amazing fictional libraries we’d love to visit, especially to meet up with the guardians of the stacks.

So we turned to Twitter to find out where your SFF librarian loyalties lie. Here are your favorites, as well as a few of our own!

 

Rupert Giles—Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Librarians Rupert Giles Buffy

Librarian of Sunnydale High School, Watcher of slayers, and the wizard-formerly-known-as-Ripper—is there anything this man can’t do? Giles won us over guiding Buffy toward her destiny, reminding us all that the best defense against evil is a little research. Giles was typically stuffy and intellectual, but he could cut loose from time to time—he has a passion for open mic nights, Halloween costumes, and a certain magical chocolate bar. And who could forget the practically poetic speech he gave defending the fact that knowledge should be, well… smelly.

 

The LibrarianThe Discworld Series by Terry Pratchett

Discworld Ook Paul Kidby Terry Pratchett Librarians

Transformed into an orangutan by a wayward beam of magic, the Librarian is a member of the small, elite group who have the knowledge and ability to travel through L-space. His true identity is unknown and he speaks only through a series of “ooks” and “eeks,” but he’s still a pretty low-key guy when he’s not protecting the world’s knowledge. Just don’t call him a monkey. Trust us on that one.

 

Evelyn CarnahanThe Mummy

The Mummy Evelyn Librarians

How could you not love a brilliant Egyptologist who will stop at nothing to find the lost book of Amun-Ra, even when it brings her face-to-face with flesh-eating scarabs and an army of the undead? She may be a bit clumsy early on, but Evie holds her own with a gun and dagger, dishes out the sass as well as the facts, and delivers adorably drunken proclamations like this:

“I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure-seeker, or a gunfighter, Mr. O’Connell, but I am proud of what I am... I am a librarian.”

 

Jocasta NuStar Wars: The Clone Wars

Jocasta Nu librarian Star Wars Clone Wars

As if passing the trials of the Jedi Academy wasn’t enough to secure her place on this list, Jocasta went on to serve as Chief Librarian of the Jedi Archives where she faced down Darth Vader himself. She refused to ignite the Jedi Beacon, an act of bravery that would be her last. She died as a hero, defending the place, and the people, she wanted most to protect.

 

LucienThe Sandman Comic Series by Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaimain Sandman Lucien librariansThe first Raven of Morpheus, Lucien is entrusted with watching over Morpheus’s crib while he’s away. Though that’s not his only job.

Lucien is also Chief Librarian of a collection that includes every book ever written, conceived, or even dreamt of. Which means he can spend his time perusing the unfinished volumes of Ray Bradbury or flipping through the dream-stories of J.R.R. Tolkien—we’re definitely jealous! Plus, if he’s been poking around in G.R.R. Martin’s thoughts, Lucien probably already knows who finally takes the Iron Throne. Sigh.

 

Night Vale Public LibrariansWelcome to Night Vale

Night Vale summer reading librariansBoasting more than 30 copies of Helen Hunt’s biography, the Night Vale Public Library really is the place to be. And if you’ve been drafted into the summer reading program (“Catch the flesh-eating reading bacterium!”), you really have to be there. Seriously, you have no choice.

But don’t worry, the library is totally safe now! Especially since librarian repellent dispensers have been placed throughout the building. Just remember: if you’re approached by a librarian, remain as still as possible and try to make yourself look bigger than the librarian. Right. Good luck!

 

Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)—Batman

Head of Gotham Public Library by day, crime fighter by night—no one can pull this (or that shimmery purple suit) off quite like Barbara Gordon can. (We wouldn’t mind zipping through Gotham on her snazzy purple bike, either.)

Even after her role as Batgirl ended in the comics, Barbara took her librarian skills into the digital age as an information expert and super-hacker known only as Oracle.

 

Mr. AtozStar Trek: The Original Series

Atoz Star Trek All Our Yesterdays librarian

Like any good librarian, Mr. Atoz helped the inhabitants of Sarpeidon escape the death of their sun by transporting them into their planet’s history, letting them choose a time and place where they could live out the rest of their lives. He also accidentally sent the triumvirate of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy into Sarpeidon’s past in “All Our Yesterdays.” But that could probably happen to anyone.

 

Rex LibrisThe Rex Libris Comics by James Turner

Dealing with loitering zombies and chasing down alien overlords who refuse to pay their overdue book fees is all in a day’s work for Rex Libris, Head Librarian at Middleton Public Library. Rex will go to the farthest corners of the universe (literally—what else would those transportation crystals be used for?) to defend the sanctity of the Dewey Decimal System.

 

 

CALDoctor Who (“Silence in the Library” & “Forest of the Dead”)

CAL Doctor Who Silence in the Library librarians

The story of Charlotte Abigail Lux (CAL) is tragic enough to break both your hearts. When she was dying, her father preserved her consciousness within a program that simulated a dream world, giving her access to all the knowledge in the library. CAL used this knowledge to help save the Doctor, Donna, and others from the fearsome Vashta Nerada.

 

Wan Shi TongAvatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra

Wan Shi Tong Korra Avatar librarian spirit

An ancient, wise, and powerful spirit, Wan Shi Tong is not one to be trifled with. He spent a lifetime gathering books in hopes that humans would use his library to better themselves. But when he learned that the Avatar planned to use his knowledge for violence instead, he closed the doors of his library to humans forever. Until, that is, Jinora is allowed to explore the library in exchange for her knowledge of how radios work.

 

Isaac VainioLibriomancer by Jim C. Hines

Brilliant but undisciplined, Isaac Vainio has the ability to reach into books and create objects from their pages. It’s a talent that almost any librarian would envy, except that the hazards of his job include a neurotic fire-spider named Smudge, a dryad with a penchant for sword fights, a missing Gutenberg, and secrets that could loose a devastating magical war upon an unsuspecting world.

 

 

The Grey LadyGhostbusters

Ghostbusters Library The Grey Lady librarian

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the scariest librarian of all, the ghost of the Grey Lady from the opening segment of Ghostbusters. The Grey Lady’s “full torso apparition” roams the lower stacks of the New York Public Library, emptying card catalogs, arranging books in unhelpful piles, and generally terrifying the current library staff. She may look like a harmless old lady, but speak too loudly in her library and she’ll turn into one fearsome ghoul—just ask our intrepid ghost-busting heroes, who ran away and never looked back!

 

Of course, we couldn’t fit all the best librarians into this post, so let us know which of your favorites we missed in the comments!

 


This article was written and researched by Ashley Mullins.

78 comments
james loyd
1. gaijin
You forgot the Librarian software agent in Snow Crash and Romney Wordsworth from the Twilight Zone episode "The Obsolete Man" (my favorite fictional librarain), but I'm thrilled you remembered Mr. Atoz (A to Z). He's usually forgotten.
Jack G
2. Jack G
How about The Librarian in the Librarian movies?
james loyd
3. gaijin
Oh, and Madame Pince (the Hogwart's librarian). And the giant librarian in Monsters University.
james loyd
4. gaijin
If you like Rex Libris (or if you don't), I highly recommend Unshelved.
Did I mention I AM a librarain?
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
5. hoopmanjh
Master Ultan in the Book of the New Sun.

(Also, Jocasta Nu may have died a heroic death, but she's actually not a very good librarian. "If an item does not appear in our archives, it does not exist!" is never the correct answer to a reference question.)
james loyd
6. gaijin
I'll try to shut up now, but...um, ahem
Conan the Librarian
Jack G
7. quillet
Glad to see you've got the Librarian from Discworld up there, but, um, why on earth are you calling him "Ook"? That's what he says, not what he's called. He is always, always called "the Librarian." And as for his true identity being unknown…he was "quite possibly" originally a wizard called Horace Worblehat. However, as the Librarian has defaced Unseen University records that mention Dr Worblehat, this cannot be confirmed.
Jack G
8. quillet
Ah, I see you've corrected it already.

No doubt the Librarian paid you a visit through L-space and told you not to call him "ook." …Or the m-word, of course!
Jack G
9. Leslie M
The Thursday Next books by Jasper FForde!!!!
Rob Munnelly
10. RobMRobM
Mrs. Fletcher (aka Shasta Smedry) and many others from Sanderson's Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians series.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
11. Lisamarie
I haven't seen the clone wars, but I could never stand Jocasta Nu, because she's so darn snooty and all 'if it doesn't exist in our archives, it does not exist!'. Uh, not very helpful, in terms of research gathering.

Also to whomever suggested Madam Pince, she isn't really a good librarian either, I don't get the impression she was very helpful in fostering a love of knowledge or helping students find information. She was just obsessed with the books being clean (which is certainly a good thing).

I do love the Archivist in the Kingkiller Chronicles though (Loren?).

Also - I don't know if she counts as a librarian, per se, but Verin Sedai? I just love her :D She probably had a personal library of sorts.
james loyd
12. gaijin
@11 Yes, Master Lorren! Good call. How could have I forgotten him?

Also, I never suggested Madame Pince was a GOOD librarian, just that she was an overlooked fictional librarian.
Paul Weimer
13. PrinceJvstin
The Cheshire Cat in the Jasper Fforde novels acts as a Librarian
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
14. Lisamarie
Ah, well the title of the article was 'best' librarians, so that's what I was going on :) Master Lorren is a good example of a librarian obsessed with the state of his books WITHOUT squashing students' love of knowledge ;)
Shaka Jamal
15. FaceofYo!
@ # 2 - I too have an affinity for the cheesiness of Noah Wyle's Librarian series :)
+ Not sure if she counts as a librarian but I thought I would throw out Verin Sedai as well :)
JOSEPH HOOPMAN
16. hoopmanjh
Also the Librarians in Metro 2033, who may share some DNA with those in Night Vale.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCG0iGXYABQ
Jack G
17. Action Librarian
Oracle. Not The Oracle. Just Oracle.
Jack G
18. Wiredwizard
Flynn Carsen from The Librarian
Andrew Mason
19. AnotherAndrew
You can dispute whether the series in question is actually fantasy, but Dewey Denouement, from A Series of Unfortunate Events. And now, from the prequel, Dashiell Qwerty.
Jack G
20. MBG1968
How about Garth Nix's Lirael?
Jack G
21. wyoarmadillos
@10 I agree all the librarian's from the Alcatraz Series. My favorite though is "She who can't be Named"
Jack G
22. bekr451
Several people mentioned Flynn Carsen but I need to add Ivy from the Dresden Files.
Jack G
23. Canates
Ehm.... Master Lorren?!?
Alan Brown
24. AlanBrown
@2 put his finger on one big omission--who could forget a character called The Librarian?
I also kind of liked the animated librarian in Monsters University this past summer--if she shushed me, I would definitely listen!
Jack G
25. Fergster
Artemis from the Philip Palmer novel!
Jack G
26. Tamar Lindsay
Librarian Vo, from the Hugo-winning comic, Digger.
Jack G
27. OtterB
@22 and @26 beat me to Ivy and to Librarian Vo.

I'll add the Arkon, in Michelle Sagara's Chronicles of Elantra. He is a very old dragon, and the library is his hoard. Do NOT mess with Hoard Law.
Nick S
28. kukkurovaca
What, no love for the power-mad, wheellock dueling librarians of Souls in the Great Machine?
Jack G
29. Petar Belic
Ravna Bergsndot

A corporate librarian who saved civilisations.

- A Fire Upon the Deep
Jack G
30. Anna_Wing
Mercy Fane, from "Worldsoul", by Liz Williams.
Thomas Thatcher
31. StrongDreams
Most of the cast of A Canticle for Liebowitz.
Thomas Thatcher
32. StrongDreams
Noah Wylie buckles his swash as good as anyone in The Librarian series but I'm partial to the characters played by Jane Curtin and Bob Newhart, although one is an administrator and the other is not technically the librarian. Good popcorny fun.
Shelly wb
33. shellywb
There are a lot of great librarians in anime, but special mention should be made of those in Library War, and Read or Die.
Jack G
34. Jarle
The best of them all is of course Adele Mundy.
Jack G
35. bibliophylax
Danio, Bibliophylax, from Steph Swainston's wonderful No Present Like Time.
Jack G
36. JohnElliott
'Doctor Who' also provides Zoë Heriot, who was working as a librarian before she stowed away on the TARDIS, beat a superhuman and shot the Cybermen's space fleet out of the sky.
james loyd
37. gaijin
We've mostly been discussing reference and circulation librarians, but what about catalogers? Foundation's Friends contains a story by Orson Scott Card called "The Originist" about research and metadata. That is my dream job.
james loyd
38. gaijin
THIS is the cataloging department where I want to work:
“Rearranged! The rooms move?”
“A series of random routines in the master calculator. There are rules, but the program isn’t afraid to waste space, either. Some days only one room is changed, moved off to some completely different place in the Indexing area. Other days, everything is changed. The only constant is the archway leading in. I really wasn’t joking when I said you should come here and bellow.”
“But-the indexers must spend the whole morning just finding their stations.”
“Not at all. Any indexer can work from any station.”
“Ah. So they just call up the job they were working on the day before.”
“No. They merely pick up on the job that is already in progress on the station they happen to choose that day.”
“Chaos!” said Leyel.
“Exactly. How do you think a good hyperindex is made? If one person alone indexes a book, then the only connections that book will make are the ones that person knows about. Instead, each indexer is forced to skim through what his predecessor did the day before. Inevitably he’ll add some new connections that the other indexer didn’t think of."
...
“Are indexers often hospitalized?” Leyel asked quietly.
“For what?”
“Stress.”
“There’s no stress on this job,” said Zay. “Just play. We come up here as a reward for working in other parts of the library.”
“I see. This is the time when librarians actually get to read the books in the library.”
Susan Meek
39. smeek1958
How about the librarian from Simon Morden's Arcanum? Loved that book.
Jack G
40. JoeYu
Don't forget Lirael from Garth Nix's Abhorsen series.

Oh, and also Ivy (the Archive) from the Dresden Files, who is kind of a library and librarian unto herself.
Jack G
41. kimikimi
What about Princess Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest Chronicals? She ends up as as cook and librarian to the King of the dragons.
Jack G
42. Grubnut
"A Rose from Old Terra" by Don Sakers features an entire team of librarians in space, including the main character Jedrek nor Talin. Science fiction adventure that's ell worth reading.
Jack G
43. Lesley Arrowsmith
Does "Files and Records" at Wolfram and Hart in Angel count? I always thought she was cool.
Jack G
44. DavidD
I feel like the Archive from the Dresden series counts as a librarian (or maybe a person and a library both), though she isn't often present in that capacity.

Also, there are a lot of cool librarians in the anime series Read or Die, including the main character Yomiko Readman, since the main premise involves the British Special Library Forces.

And I'll also give a second (or however many-th) to the Cheshire Cat from the Thursday Next series, and Cimorene from the Enchanted Forest series.
Jack G
45. Peter D.
+1 for Ravna Bergsndot and Zoe Herriot.
Jack G
46. Amy M.
Pardon me while I recover from my jaw drop. Hello? Charles Halloway? The greatest librarian in all of literature (in my opinon)? Bradbury? Something Wicked This Way Comes? Saves his town from EVIL? Who wrote this list??
Jack G
47. Lisa B
From Garth Nix's Lirael: "The Stilken was the worst thing she'd encountered in the Library. But she'd found other dangerous things over the past few years - fell creatures, old Charter-spells that had unraveled or become unpredictable, mechanical traps, even poisoned book bindings. All these were the regular hazards of a librarian's life."

Who can resist a line like that! (Not me.)
Paul Howard
48. DrakBibliophile
I agree with OtterB, The Arkon should be mentioned.
Jack G
49. jherbivore
Glad to see this thread. Good reading on a slow desk shift.
Uh, #38, gaijin, *where* does that passage come from? I have a friend who worked for H.W. Wilson a looooong time ago... and I wouldn't mind reading it myself.
Colin Bell
50. SchuylerH
@49: Orson Scott Card, "The Originist" (his Foundation story)
james loyd
51. gaijin
#49 There´s a link to the full story in comment #37.
Danny Sichel
52. Danny Sichel
"Then the librarians come—like vampires"

-- Gene Wolfe, Shadow of the Torturer
Jack G
53. BGinBmore
How about the Library Wars manga?
Jack G
54. cowboy from brooklyn
What about the scholars(librarians) at the Imperial University at Trantor and the encylopedists of the First Foundation.

I did though want the Library Camo suit from the last Thursday Next book......
Jonathan Zev
55. Sir_Read-a-Lot
I'm going to throw my support in behind Lirael, Ivy, and the evil librarians that Alcatraz Smedry fights (particularly the souless ones in the Library of Alexandria)
Jack G
56. a1ay
Years ago, when I was a WH40K player, I loved the fact that not only did you have Marines - biologically engineered fanatical supermen in powered armour with hand-held grenade launchers - but when life got too tough for them, you had Terminator Marines, who were even more fanatical, and had even thicker armour and handheld rapid-firing multi-barrelled artillery pieces - and when they needed help they could call on guys who had all the same armour and fanaticism and weaponry, but could also destroy buildings with the sheer power of their minds - and those guys - the very top of the badass pyramid - were called Terminator Librarians.
Jack G
57. jshillingford
Marian from Beautiful Creatures.
Jack G
58. BFD
What about Cheshire Cat and all of SpecOps 27 from the Thursday Next Series.
Jack G
59. Vida
What about China Sorrows from the Skulduggery Pleasant series?
Jack G
60. kweitkamp
Does Alex Penumbra belong in this list of fantasy librarians? I think so. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore is every librarian's dream - a full catalog of books that are only available to those who seek.
james loyd
61. gaijin
@60 Excellent point. While I wouldn't consider Ajax Penumbra himself to be a librarian, it's an extremely librarian-oriented book. All about information recording and transmission. There's also an amazing archive where the...but that's a spoiler.
Jack G
62. Librarian72
All are great librarians but who can forget Kathryn Hepburn and Spencer Tracy in Desk Set. The famous battle if the librarian versus the super computer.
Jack G
63. PaulJ
Henry DeTamble - the time traveller in The Time Traveler's Wife - was a librarian. The two main characters first meet in a library (well, he first meets her there, but she's met him lots of times before: that's time travel for you!)
Jack G
64. thelibrariancat
#2, JackG - The Librarian from the Librarian movies is more of an archivist or museum curator. I love the movies, but am glad not to see him on this list.
Jack G
65. Gormanghaste
How about Gedrecsechet, the librarian of the Palgolak church in Mieville's Perdido Street Station? It's the only religion I've considered joining. Who wouldn't want a god who likes to read in the bath and who charges all worshippers to read voraciously?
Jack G
66. EverEmily
A few people have mentioned Lirael - the eponymous librarian main character of the second book in The Old Kingdom Trillogy by Garth Nix - but haven't explained just why she's deserving of a space on the list.

Let me tell you a thing.

Lirael is a deeply distressed, depressed, and despondent girl. She's born to magic bloodline of women with the power to see the future, but Lirael herself has never "seen". She's assigned a job in the ancient and dangerous library of the Clayar, and in its depths she grows into the strong and wise young woman she'll need to be to save the world.

The reason she's so wonderful is because so many young people can relate to her escape into the library. I'd wager at least a few people reading this article felt at odds with the world and peace and strength in libraries and books.

That is why Lirael is best librarian.
Jack G
68. Lil McD
Harry Dresden's skull (Bob) at least deserves a nomination; he's both library & librarian for our publicly practicing wizard!

Weezie from the Repairman Jack saga

And now, some blasts from the past:

Owen Orient & Doctor Strange :D
Jack G
69. OneRatNoWalls
Oh I can't let this pass... no mention of the hardcore heroic book reshelvers of Scott Lynch's In The Stacks, read on the Podcastle fantasy podcast
http://podcastle.org/2012/03/13/podcastle-200-in-the-stacks/
Jack G
70. Jynto
Charlotte Lux is my favourite fictional character. Glad she got a mention here.
Jack G
71. Bevula
How about the (I believe unnamed) librarians in Mieville's Un Lun Dun? They have to use mountain-climbing gear to access the stacks where deadly creatures lurk to bring back the books you need.
Jack G
72. Sharon, a librarian
Noah Wyle's character in The Librarian is Flynn Carsen. Love those movies! ~ One very overlooked fictional librarian is Luna Moth (aka Judy Dark), the female superhero in Michael Chabon Presents the Amazing Adventures of the Escapist (graphic novel).
Jack G
73. Verwirrung
How about Ingrid in the TV series Witches of East End? A small public library with a rare collection of occult books and grimoires on the open shelves...yeah, right.
Jack G
74. cleftley
...and how about the grandaddy of them all, from ASIMOV's Second Foundation:
Homir Munn (Second Foundation) is a librarian and owns one of the biggest collections of information about the Mule.
Jack G
75. Rachel Van Riel
Strangest ever has to be the librarian who helps the dreamreader in the library of unicorn skulls in Murakami's The Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the Universe - brilliant.
Jack G
76. MBrent
What about Twilight Sparkle from MLP?
Jack G
77. DoctorLibrarian
When I attained the librarian position in my library, a picture of Ook from Terry Pratchet was placed on my door. Those who got the reference were viewed with especial favour.
Jack G
78. Meggiepie
The librarian in MirrorMask.

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