There’s nothing like a great librarian to make a story shine. Here are five of my favorite action librarians.
Barbara Gordon (Batgirl)
Of all the mild-mannered alter egos out there, Barbara Gordon has the best day job. When she’s not crime-fighting as Batgirl, she works as librarian. And not just any librarian, the head librarian of Gotham City Public Library. Later, she uses all those information science skills as Oracle. She’s got to be one of the most awesome librarians in all of science fiction and fantasy.
Evelyn Carnahan (The Mummy)
At first, she seems to be a bumbling bookish sort, but then Evelyn proves herself an enthusiastic egyptologist and exceptionally brave. She’s definitely the brains of the operation and wins the day by reading a book.
But to be completely honest, despite dodging sandstorms and fighting mummies, Evie won my heart with a single line.
Evelyn [drunk]: Look, I… 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.
O’Connell: And what is that?
Evelyn: I… am a librarian.
How can you resist that?
Cimorene (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles)
We first meet Cimorene as a most unusual princess in the middle-grade fantasy Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The books are hilarious and well-worth a read and Cimorene is a good part of the reason. She’s eminently practical, and much more interested in the exciting life of helping and living with dragons than being rescued by a prince.
“Well, it doesn’t sound particularly noble and knightly to say you’ve rescued the Chief Cook and Librarian, does it? And it has cut down on the number of interruptions. I used to get two or three knights a day, and now there’s only about one a week.”
To tell the truth, Cimorene has so many adventures she barely gets to do her librarian duties.
Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Fiercely paternal, delightfully bookish and surprisingly badass, Rupert Giles is the finest action librarian to rock the small screen.
Giles: The resources that the Watchers Council have at their disposal… I mean, the central library alone is…
Buffy: Don’t talk about the books again. You get all… And sometimes there’s drool.
He’s the mentor everyone wants, supportive and strong. He fights evil and deals with teenagers with sophistication and an understated sense of humor. Although he’ll pick up a sword or crossbow on occasion, books are his real weapon.
It’s impossible not to love him.
Lirael (Old Kingdom Trilogy)
With a list this great, it’s hard to pick a favorite librarian, but Lirael may be it. She is the reason that I’ve always liked the sequel to Garth Nix’s dark fantasy novel Sabriel better than the first book. Sure, they are both remarkable, but Lirael had the Great Library of the Clayr.
“…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….”
The library was filled with magical spells, dangerous rooms, unknown mysteries, written prophesies and unusual artifacts. As an outsider, the library is a sanctuary for Lirael and her job as a librarian the perfect escape. The first half of the book is mostly taken over with rich descriptions of her explorations within this strange library. It’s perfect.
Not included in this list are booksellers, book binders, book writers or book lovers— although those characters are often wonderful too. Any favorites I missed?