The Best Fictional Librarians from Popular Culture

Image: Emmanuel Hapsis

National Library Workers' Day is an opportunity to celebrate librarians for everything they do, and they do a lot. They act as our teachers, our tour guides through the world of knowledge, and even our social workers. They help us develop a lifelong passion for literature, find jobs, and make it through the paper that's due in two hours. In short: they're heroes.

So today, let’s celebrate some of the best fictional librarians from popular culture. I’m going to go ahead and mix characters from TV, movies, books, and comics, because you know what I do when I hear a rule? I break it! Unless I’m in a library, in which case I follow all rules. No one should mess with a librarian.

Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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His Britishness! The way he takes off his glasses and rubs them on his shirt during awkward moments! His bad boy past! This is a man who loves the reference section, and knows how to use it. And just like real-life librarians, he is often pivotal in stopping the apocalypse.

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Wan Shi Tong and the Knowledge Seekers (Avatar: The Last Airbender & The Legend of Korra)

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Although he only appears in a handful of episodes, Wan Shi Tong, a spirit owl who oversees a library served by spirit foxes, is unforgettable. I wish I could go to a library staffed by highly literate foxes! Oh, wait, that’s every library! (See what I did there?)

Death (Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore)

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Death (pronounced to rhyme with teeth) is cranky and cantankerous in the best way. This badass elder librarian knows every book ever written by heart. When a king burns the library to hide the past, the librarian must rewrite each book from memory, the sole defender against historical amnesia.

Conan the Librarian (UHF)

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Not every librarian has to wear glasses; some wear fur loincloths and carry swords! To this day “Don’t you know the Dewey Decimal System?!” remains one of my favorite movie quotes. I wish this was a real movie, instead of a fake trailer inside of a movie.

A-Through-L (The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente)

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A-Through-L has encyclopedic knowledge of everything beginning with -- you guessed it -- the letters A through L, but unlike most librarians, he can also fly and breathe fire. Half wyvern, half library, all heart, he’ll fly you up to the tall shelves.

Lucien (The Sandman comics)

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Imagine being the keeper of a library containing every book ever written or even thought of. All of the librarians reading this just drooled a little bit.

Amma / Marian Ashcroft (Beautiful Creatures, the movie and book)

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Photo: Warner Bros.

Marian Ashcroft is the librarian for both the regular mortal library of small town Gatlin and the magical library that is hidden beneath. She sends books in the mail, helping homebound residents discretely access magic, she quotes Shakespeare, and she’s brave enough to defy both dark magicians and small-minded school boards. Plus, in the movie, she’s played by Viola Davis.

Mary (Party Girl)

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Parker Posey’s character single-handedly inspired a generation to become librarians. Voguing with NYC’s party elite by night, cross-referencing by day, Mary does it all, while rocking the hottest outfits of the '90s. Word of warning: Don't mess with the Dewey Decimal System or she will yell in your face.

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