Dr. Barbara Gordon, Librarian? Yep that’s right – not only was Batgirl a crime-fighter alongside Batman and Robin but she also had a PhD in Library Science and ran the Gotham City Public Library.
A recent visit from some fellow librarians in Washington DC for the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference gave me a chance to explore some depictions of librarians in comics. Certainly I found some clichés (hair buns and glasses) but I also found some interesting, funny, and curious stories.
The publishers of Walt Disney’s Huey Dewey and Louie Junior Woodchucks certainly had a particular opinion of their readers in 1971 when they included this ad.
I heartily agree with this assessment – “To be a librarian, you should have an attraction to books and an interest in people and an intellectual curiosity.” I think that still applies today, but I think being a librarian is so much more.
Just who are librarians – according to comics? You could be a crime fighting superhero like Dr. Gordon, or you could be the “Lord Librarian” of the Halls of All-Knowing, helping Thor find the lost gods. Sounds pretty cool to me – plus wings! You could also be a thousand years old and teleport with the help of Thoth (the Egyptian God of writing and wisdom – among other things).
Again there’s the glasses stereotype – but with a secret agent vibe. Then there was that time when Dr. Strange went to the library, only to meet an immortal woman whose disguise was – you guessed it – as a librarian.
And of course there were numerous romance stories that featured librarians – this one actually seems to comment on the librarian stereotype while still being a traditional 1950s romance story.
Last but not least, there’s Lucien the Librarian, who made his first appearance in Weird Mystery Tales in 1975 and later returned in 1989’s Sandman. I definitely found some stories that intrigued me and made me want to read more! Have there been any librarians in comics that you found fascinating? Share them with us!