Since the unfortunate passing of Robin Williams, I've come to realize how many of his films in the 1990s defined my childhood. Films like Aladdin, Ms. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Ferngully, Hook, and countless others have and will always hold a special place in my heart. However, in my efforts to both remember Robin Williams for the comedic genius that he was as well as to take a trip down nostalgia way, I got lost somewhere along the way, and what started as a Robin Williams movie marathon turned into an all out nostalgia binge. I'm not exactly sure when I came up with this week's blog post (the last one of the summer if you can believe it?) but its timing could not be any better. What started off as a quest to remember my first real comedic role model slowly morphed into a re-discovery of other characters that inspired me while growing up. And since I'm currently enrolled in a graduate program for library and information science, I thought it would be cool to compile a list of five librarian characters from film and TV that not only sparked my interest in the profession, but also showcased just how awesome being a librarian can be.
1. Marian Paroo from The Music Man: River City's very own 'Marian the Librarian' was really the first time I had ever seen a librarian character in both a film and a musical. Smart, confident, and perhaps the most well-read woman in River City, Marian is clearly very passionate about her love of books and of the library in which she works. Sure, her relationship with conman turned hero, Harold Hill, is a bit unrealistically fast paced, but since it is a musical, I simply overlook that part. At the end of the day, Marian still seemed to be one of the few people in River City who knew how to appreciate good books, even if others considered them to be strange (I'm looking at you Pickalittle Ladies).
2. Wan Shi Tong, aka The Knowledge Spirit from Avatar the Last Airbender: While it is true that I watched the bulk of this series while in high school, that doesn't excuse the fact that a giant, knowledge-seeking owl with a massive library is just simply awesome. Although not technically a librarian, he is a lover of knowledge; his name literally translates to "He who knows ten thousand things". Within his vast library, Wan Shi Tong, who once let humans come and use his library, watches over his collection protectively, fearful of humans who seek to abuse his gathered knowledge and use it towards violence. Although it is a shame that he deems his collection to be too great for the mortal world, it signifies just how highly he values knowledge and his understanding that even those with the best intentions can utilize knowledge for dark purposes. Also, his knowledge seekers/pages are foxes. How cool is that?
3. Mr. Dewey/the Pagemaster from The Pagemaster: To start things off, Mr. Dewey is played by Christopher Lloyd. That fact alone already ups the awesomeness of this librarian. But that's not all. After Macaulay Culkin's Richard Tyler hits his head on the floor and enters what has to be the coolest animated library ever, he meets the great Pagemaster, who happens to be voiced by Mr. Lloyd as well. The Pagemaster considers himself to be the Keeper of the Books and the Guardian of the Written World. Oddly enough, that rather grand title somewhat roughly fits the job description of a librarian. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection between the two??? Even if these two are supposed to be two wholly separate characters, their purpose is still one in the same: to showcase the many adventures and worlds one can find between the pages of a book. These two characters not only showed me as a child the wonders to be had in reading, they also taught me the value of a library card.
4. Evelyn "Evie" Carnahan from The Mummy: Although I think her actual profession is more along the lines of an archivist, Evie will proudly tell anyone who will listen that she is a librarian. Whether she is an archivist, a librarian, or hybrid of both, Evie not only gets out of the stacks of Cairo's Museum of Antiquities, she also lets her curiosity get the better of her and resurrects the big bad of the series, the mummy himself. Even so, her passion for history has taken her far in life, to both Egypt and later, China. Despite constantly being cast in the position of being a damsel in distress, she gradually becomes more brave over the course of the film series and eventually, can hold her own in battle. Although the first film is really the only one to highlight her profession as a librarian, she is still proves that you can be a librarian but kick butt as well.
5. Rupert "Ripper" Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Hands down, this is by far the coolest school librarian ever featured in either TV or film. He has saved the world on multiple occasions, vanquished a variety of demons and monsters, rocked an awesome set of tweed suits, and sings, yet still manages to keep his library at Sunnydale High School organized. All joking aside, it's Giles and his eagerness to shift into research librarian mode that helped ensure some of the Buffy gang's earliest victories. While Buffy might be the story of a chosen girl and her constant quest to save the world while going through the drama of life, the show also taught its viewers that sometimes, your greatest asset might just be a musty old book. Even though most characters at one point in the series poked fun at Giles and his library (ok, maybe not Willow), they were still shown appreciating him, his library, and the seemingly endless books he had at his disposal. In a rather strange way, Buffy the Vampire Slayer served as an excellent platform to showcase just how useful a school library and its librarian could really be. Also his reluctance to embrace computer technology in the earliest seasons was both poetic and true.
And that's it! Can you believe that the summer is just about over? I sure can't. Even so, I'm looking forward to my second year at Simmons and all the amazing things that I am going to learn. I have a feeling that this upcoming semester is going to be a great one!