Books and book-burning in ‘Fahrenheit 451’

I recently rewatched the 1966 film version of Fahrenheit 451, directed by French New Wave director Francois Truffaut and starring Julie Christie in a dual role and Oscar Werner as Montag, the fireman who falls in love with books, the very thing he’s charged with burning.

*MAJOR SPOILER ALERTS THROUGHOUT*

Here is one of the original trailers for the film:

Fahrenheit 451 1966,” uploaded by DIOTD2008, Standard YouTube License.

The origins of Fahrenheit 451

One of the major themes of the book, and resulting film, is about authoritarian censorship, the kind that led to book-burning in World War II. The finished novel of Fahrenheit 451 was first published in 1953, so this was still fresh in people’s minds.

The origins of the book, however, actually go back to 1947-1948, right after the war ended, when Bradbury wrote a short story, “Bright Phoenix.” This story featured a librarian who confronted a book-burning “Chief Censor.” Bradbury turned that story, plus another story in 1951 called “The Pedestrian” set in a totalitarian future, into the novella called “The Fireman,” which was published in the February 1951 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. Bradbury relished retelling the story about how he wrote “The Fireman” (which essentially serves as the first draft of Fahrenheit 451) in 9 days on a typewriter he rented in the basement of UCLA’s Powell Library for ten cents per half hour. He then expanded that story into the novel we know today.

“An Introductory Powerpoint: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury” by Christine Samantha Anderson, SlidePlayer

“An Introductory Powerpoint: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury” by Christine Samantha Anderson, SlidePlayer

In a dystopian future — one again, like in The Handmaid’s Tale, is too eerily familiar to modern times — books are forbidden and burned when discovered. In this future, firemen are trained to burn books, rather than prevent fires. Neighbors are encouraged to spy on one another and report those they suspect have books. Information (or rather, propaganda) is spread through television, called “wall screens,” as well as through comics-like publications, as seen in the screenshot below.

Reel Librarians | Montag "reads" the comics while in bed with his wife, in an early scene from 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Montag “reads” the comics while in bed with his wife, in an early scene from ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

The hidden library scene

A turning point in the film comes almost exactly halfway through the film, when Montag is called to the house where he knows Clarisse lives. Clarisse is described as Montag’s “rebellious, book-collecting mistress” on the back of the DVD case, but her role in the film is much tamer than that description suggests. His supervisor, Captain Beatty (played by Cyril Cusack), discovers a “hidden library” in the attic and cannot hold back his glee at the prospect of burning all those books:

I knew it. Of course, all this — the existence of a secret library was known in high places, but there was no way of getting at it. Only once before have I seen so many books in one place. I was just an ordinary fireman at the time.

It’s all ours, Montag.

Once to each fireman, at least once in his career, he just itches to know what those books are all about. He just aches to know. Isn’t that so? Take my word for it, Montag, there’s nothing there. The books have nothing to say!

Reel Librarians | Captain Beatty and fireman Montag discover a hidden library in 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Captain Beatty and fireman Montag discover a hidden library in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

During this scene and monologue — only the captain is talking, Montag only reacts — Captain Beatty expounds on different types of books and genres, dismissing each in turn. At the end, he finally reveals the reasons behind this society’s book-burning:

We’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal. So, we must burn the books, Montag. All the books.

This scene reminded me of the forbidden magazines scene in The Handmaid’s Tale and the reasons the Commander gave for their totalitarian regime. The reasons in The Handmaid’s Tale were different, that they needed to “cleanse” all the dirt and filth and sex from the world. The reasons expressed in Fahrenheit 451 come off as a search for a mythical, Utopian, and elusive “pursuit of happiness.” A generic happiness, but happiness nonetheless.

Modern martyrs

The captain’s assertion that “the books have nothing to say” is directly contradicted in the next scene, in which the older woman refuses to leave her books.

Fabian, another fireman, rushes in to say that the woman won’t leave. “She won’t leave her books, she says.

Woman:  I want to die as I’ve lived.

Captain Beatty:  Oh, you must have read that in there. I’m not going to ask you again. Are you going?

Woman:  These books were alive. They spoke to me.

And so the older woman lights the match herself, to die as she lived, with her beloved books.

Reel Librarians | Book burning by choice in 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Book burning by choice in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

Truffaut also lingers several minutes over the burning of the books, with several close-ups.

Reel Librarians | Book burning closeup from 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Book burning closeup from ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

In the final act of the film, Montag and his firemen troop are called to his own house. He is forced to burn his own hidden collection of books.

Reel Librarians | Montag torches his own collection of books, in a scene from 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Montag torches his own collection of books, in a scene from ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

He is chastised and criticized by his captain:

What did Montag hope to get out of all this? Happiness? What a poor idiot you must have been.

His captain tries to grab the last book from Montag’s hand — we find out later this is a collection of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, Tales of Mystery and Imagination — but Montag finally breaks, blasting Captain Beatty with the fire hose instead.

Reel Librarians | Montag torches his own captain in a scene from 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Montag torches his own captain in a scene from ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

Now compare this photo, of his captain lying facedown in the pile of books, ablaze, with the previous screenshot of the older woman, standing upright, proud and defiant. Both are martyrs of their own kind, but the woman chose to go up in flames.

The book people

Montag goes on the run then, hunted by the state, but he manages to escape to a hidden Utopia, deep in the forest, where others have escaped and banded together. These people are known as the “Book People,” as they have memorized a single work of literature and recite their tales for anyone who wishes to hear. The “book people” scenes were also filmed last.

Here’s how the leader of the camp describes how they came together, the 50 or so at their station. But he mentions there are more of the books:

In abandoned railway yards, wandering the roads. Tramps outwardly, but, inwardly, libraries.

It wasn’t planned. It just so happened that a man here and a man there loved some book. And rather than lose it, he learned it. And we came together. We’re a minority of undesirables crying out in the wilderness. But it won’t always be so. One day we shall be called on, one by one, to recite what we’ve learned. And then books will be printed again. And when the next age of darkness comes, those who come after us will do again as we have done.

And the book people also burn books themselves! But like the older woman in the house, they choose to do so, for their own specific reasons.

Yes, we burn the books. But we keep them up here [pointing to the brain] where nobody can find them.

The book people have literally “become” their chosen book and even introduce themselves as such:

“Are you interested in Plato’s Republic?”
“Well, I am Plato’s Republic. I’ll recite myself for you whenever you like.”

“I am The Prince by Machiavelli. As you see, you can’t judge a book by its cover.”

“That man over there hasn’t much longer to live.”
“He’s The Weir or Germiston by Robert Louis Stevenson. The boy is his nephew. He’s now reciting himself, so the boy can become the book.”

The film clip below is a combination of the final two scenes from the film.

The Book People of Fahrenheit 451” uploaded by Andrew David, Standard YouTube License.

In a special “making of” featurette in the DVD’s special features, film historian and professor Annette Ensdorf gave her own interpretation of the film’s final scenes among the “book people,” stating that the people reciting their books at the end are just as self-absorbed as the narcissists we saw at the beginning of the film. Ensdorf sums up the finale and the “book people” as:

…instruments of the text — not really existing as a completely integrated social community but rather as individual icons.

But there’s the feeling of a certain muted triumph, namely that the book people will maintain a portion of civilization, that someday these books will still be alive, even if they are recounted rather than as written text.

Classification and connections

Although the people literally become books in the end and could therefore be argued to be the only thing left resembling a librarian in a futuristic sense, I have to categorize this film in the Class V category, films with no identifiable librarians, although they might mention librarians or have scenes set in libraries. There are definitely library and censorship themes in the film, but no actual, identifiable librarians.

This contrasts with the “Books” in another sci-fi classic, Soylent Green. In Soylent Green, “Books” are former librarians and professors who become personal researchers in a dystopian future, a world in which books have ceased to be written and published. Books become rare commodities, precious treasures to be hoarded — but not due to fear of burning. Rather, books — and the people who take care of them, who then are referred to as “Books” themselves — are almost revered, and they have a unique power of their own.

In Soylent Green, the “Books” guard the past, but there is little hope for the future.

In Fahrenheit 451, however, the “Book People” guard, or consume, the past because they are the only hope for the future.

Reel Librarians | The book people in 'Fahrenheit 451' vs. the Books in 'Soylent Green'

The book people in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ vs. the Books in ‘Soylent Green’

Books in Fahrenheit 451

Here’s a list I compiled of all the books mentioned in the final scenes, in the order they are mentioned. The leader mentions there are around 50 or so around their camp, but says there are many others out there. A southern camp is also mentioned in the last scene.

These are some of the books we know that will live on:

  • Plato’s Republic
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Corsair by Byron
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Alice Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
  • Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett
  • Jean-Paul Sartre’s The Jewish Question
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens
  • David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
  • The Prince by Machiavelli
  • Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, volumes one and two
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe
  • The Memoirs of Saint Simon
  • The Weir of Germiston by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book-burning in Fahrenheit 451

On the “making of” feature on the DVD, producer Lewis M. Allen shared this tidbit about censorship he experienced during the making of the film:

An interesting thing about censorship is that when we were doing the book burning scene, the studio… wanted to eliminate all books that were by living authors that were not in public domain, and the fact that they may be sued or whatever. And we just ignored that. We said, the hell with it, because I think everybody, anyone who was around who had a book being burned in there would be very much flattered by it. … So we ignored that and went right ahead.

Reel Librarians | Books in 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Books in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

Allen also shared an amusing anecdote about how they compiled and played with all those books for the book-burning scenes:

To me, the most interesting part of the film… was the burning of the books, which went went on and on. And we had those books in our offices, we had hundreds of books, from the beginning of the film. And he would play with them. We’d go round and pick ones out, play with them, and toss them, and put piles and so on. Every day this was done, as a kind of ritual, which was fun to do, ‘cause we’d come up with strange books.

Homme livre/libre

The screenplay was originally written in French, as it was director François Truffaut’s vision, so there were several puns that got lost when translated into English.

One of the best puns focused on “homme livre” versus “homme libre.”

The original script had a moment between Clarisse and Montag, in which Clarisse explains about the “homme livre,” which translates to “book man.” But in French, “homme livre” sounds very close to “homme libre,” which translates to “free man.”

Reel Librarians | Screenplay puns in 'Fahrenheit 451' (1966)

Screenplay puns in ‘Fahrenheit 451’ (1966)

As producer Lewis M. Allen shared on the “making of” DVD feature:

That was a nice pun, about the book people and the free people, livre and libre, which could not be translated.

Definitely an attempt to preserve the nature of the original pun in French, but it’s a pale ghost of the original.

Homage to the written word

"fahrenheit 451" by CHRIS DRUMM is licensed under CC BY 2.0

“fahrenheit 451” by CHRIS DRUMM is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The ultimate message of Truffaut’s film version of Fahrenheit 451 gets discussed by several people in the DVD features.

From film historian and critic Annette Ensdorf:

What you’re going to get is Truffaut’s really passionate homage to literature, to the written word, to the notion of a text as a living, breathing entity and process that can still affect us.

Ensdorf’s thoughts on the ultimate significance of the book people’s actions:

You learn it [the book] by heart, through the process of love. […] Is there not freedom in the very choice of which book you want to be?

From producer Lewis M. Allen, who praised Truffaut playing down several of the more overt sci-fi elements in the book, like the “mechanical hound,” because:

It would be very distracting, in fact, from the simple story of the books, which was really what he was interested in most of all.

From Steven C. smith, biographer of composer Bernard Hermann, who composed the music for the film and who was personal friends with the book’s author Ray Bradbury:

The act of reading becomes… the most romantic thing in Fahrenheit 451.

And in the music feature on the DVD, Ray Bradbury summed up the themes of the film’s musical score and its connection with the story itself:

What we have is a romance with books.

Final words from the author himself

The DVD that I checked out of this film also included in its special features an interview with Ray Bradbury, who talked about how he first wrote the book in a library basement and how the title came about.

"Ray Bradbury, Miami Book Fair International, 1990" by MDCarchives is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

“Ray Bradbury, Miami Book Fair International, 1990” by MDCarchives is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

On reflection in 2002 special feature on the DVD by Universal Studios, Bradbury remarked:

I am a library person. I never made it through college you see. I’m self-educated in the library so anything that touches the library touches me.

You can also read a bit more background info and personal quotes from the author in my obituary post for Ray Bradbury, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 91. He was a lifelong and vocal supporter of libraries, and as he stated in 2009:

Libraries raised me.

Here’s to the “book people” around the world who stand up to censorship and advocate for reading, books, libraries, and librarians. ♥


Have you read the book and seen the film version of Fahrenheit 451? Please share your thoughts and leave a comment below.

Any reel librarians in the AFI Top 100 list?

Last week, when I was talking with librarian colleagues about movies, one colleague asked how many movies I had seen from the Top 100 list compiled by the American Film Institute (AFI).

The AFI compiles “best of” lists periodically, including a Top 100 movies list, which was determined by a jury of 1,500 film artists, critics, and historians. The AFI, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary this September, is a nonprofit educational arts organization that “provides leadership in film and television and is dedicated to initiatives that engage the past, the present and the future of the moving image arts.”

AFI logo

This conversation with a fellow librarian movie buff gave me the idea of comparing the AFI Top 100 list with my own Master List of reel librarian films — was there any overlap? Sometimes, an idea for a blog post is as simple as that. 😉

Good news, there ARE overlaps! I count 12 so far, but that comes with a caveat that I need to rewatch several of the films listed below to verify if there is actually a librarian (versus a library scene) in them or not.

Without further ado, below I’ve detailed the overlaps between the AFI Top 100 list and my own Master List. (Also, please note that the numbers on the list below correspond to that film’s ranking on the AFI Top 100 list.)


1. Citizen Kane (1941)

Citizen Kane is classic saga about the rise and fall of newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles). A reporter visits the Thatcher Memorial Library of Philadelphia to research Kane and runs into the steely, no-nonsense presence of the librarian. This library scene provides the structure for the entire film.

Posts or pages that include Citizen Kane:


17. The Graduate (1967)

I need to rewatch this film! The first time (and only time, thus far) I have watched this film was right before I went away to college, so… perhaps not the best timing or circumstances to watch and appreciate this movie! I do remember a major scene in the library, but I need to rewatch the film to see if there’s an actual librarian in the scene.

Here’s an excerpt from the film’s summary on the AFI site:

Benjamin Braddock, filled with doubts about his future, returns to his Los Angeles home after graduating from an Eastern college. His parents soon have a party so they can boast of their son’s academic achievements and his bright prospects in business. Mrs. Robinson, one of the guests, persuades Ben to drive her home and there tries to seduce him, but her overtures are interrupted by the sound of her husband’s car in the driveway. Blatant in her seductive maneuvers, she soon has the nervous and inexperienced Ben meeting her regularly at the Taft Hotel. As the summer passes, Benjamin becomes increasingly bored and listless; he frequently stays out overnight and returns home to loll around the pool.


20. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)

In It’s a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) falls on hard times and is granted the wish to experience life as if he’d never been born. In this alternate reality/nightmare, his lovely wife, Mary (Donna Reed), becomes an old maid librarian. The short scene in which George sees Mary as a librarian serves as the catalyst for wanting to return to his life.

Posts or pages that include It’s a Wonderful Life:


21. Chinatown (1974)

I also need to rewatch Chinatown! It’s on my Master List, but I don’t actually remember a librarian, or even a library scene, in this film. If you have seen this film and do remember, please leave a comment and share!

Here’s an excerpt from the film’s summary on the AFI site:

In 1937 Los Angeles, private detective J. J. “Jake” Gittes, who specializes in adultery cases, is hired by the well-dressed Mrs. Evelyn Mulwray to follow her husband Hollis, chief engineer for the Department of Water and Power.


44.  The Philadelphia Story (1940)

In The Philadelphia Story, a rich socialite’s (Katharine Hepburn) ex-husband (Cary Grant) and a reporter (Jimmy Stewart) show up right before her planned wedding, and romantic complications ensue. In one scene at the public library, Hepburn and Stewart discuss his book, and a Quaker librarian shushes them.

Posts or pages that include The Philadelphia Story:


50. The Lord of the Rings:  The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)

The first in a film trilogy of the well-known saga of Middle Earth, involving a hobbit’s quest to destroy a powerful ring. In one brief but pivotal scene, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) visits the archives to research background info about the ring, and the Gondorian Archivist (Michael Elsworth) leads Gandalf down a winding staircase to the archives.

Posts or pages that include The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:


63. Cabaret (1972)

This film is on my Master List, but I need to watch this film — which I’ve actually never seen all the way through — to see if there’s a library scene or librarian in it. If you have seen the film and do remember, please leave a comment and share!

Here’s an excerpt from the film’s summary on the AFI site:

In 1931, naïve Englishman Brian Roberts, seeking to broaden his experiences and further his education, arrives in Berlin, where he hopes to support himself by giving English lessons. Brian goes to the shabby boardinghouse run by Fraulein Schneider and there is greeted by Sally Bowles, an exuberant American singer. Sally, obsessed with becoming a movie star, is oblivious to the economic and political turmoil in Berlin, especially between the Nazis and Communists, and instead revels in the decadent atmosphere of alcohol, sex and excess.


70. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Another film I need to rewatch! I remember at least a mention of a prison library… If you have seen the film and do remember, please leave a comment and share.

Here’s an excerpt from the film’s summary on the AFI site:

Sometime in the not-to-distant future, gangs of teenage thugs roam rubble-strewn streets, terrorizing citizens who sequester themselves behind locked doors. Alex, the leader of one of the gangs, and his “droogs,” Pete, Georgie and Dim, distinguish themselves by wearing all-white, cod pieces, bowler hats and walking canes as the spend their nights committing rapes, muggings and beatings for entertainment.


72. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

In The Shawshank Redemption, young banker Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of his wife. Andy maintains his innocence and plots to escape, with the help of fellow inmate Red (Morgan Freeman). Andy works as an assistant in the prison library and becomes friends with the prison librarian, Brooks (James Whitmore).

Posts or pages that include The Shawshank Redemption:


74. The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Another film I need to rewatch! I remember research materials playing a pivotal role in this film — perhaps materials from the FBI Library? — but I need to rewatch it to doublecheck any scenes that include or mention a library or librarians. If you have seen this film and do remember, please leave a comment and share!

Posts or pages that include The Silence of the Lambs:


77. All the President’s Men (1976)

I recently rewatched All the President’s Men! This film follows the Watergate scandal uncovered by reporters Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) and Bob Woodward (Robert Redford). After several attempts by the reporters to locate information, a library clerk at the Library of Congress helps by giving them library checkout slips.

Posts or pages that include All the President’s Men:


91. Sophie’s Choice (1982)

In Sophie’s Choice, a Southern writer (Peter MacNicol) moves to New York City, where he meets Sophie (Meryl Streep), a Holocaust survivor with a troubling past. In a flashback scene, Sophie goes to a library to look up works by Emily Dickinson; she faints after an unpleasant exchange with the librarian (John Rothman).

Posts or pages that include Sophie’s Choice:


And if you’re wondering about the question that started the idea of this whole post, I have so far seen 80 films on the Top 100 list, including 17 of the top 20 titles and 43 of the top 50 titles. Can you guess which titles I haven’t seen?

Please leave a comment and share how many of the AFI Top 100 films you’ve seen!

A funny thing happened on the way to the Jedi library…

Last week, I awoke on Thursday, May 4th, to a series of pingbacks and increased traffic to my Reel Librarians blog post about the Jedi librarian, Jocasta Nu, and her epic fail of a reference interview in Star Wars, Episode II:  Attack of the Clones (2002).

Reel Librarians: Star Wars Library Scene

Jocasta Nu, the Jedi librarian, from Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002)

“It’s May the Fourth,” I thought.”OF COURSE I’m getting traffic to my Jedi librarian post!” But then I realized that the pingbacks were all pointing toward ONE specific article, namely Ben Guarino’s piece entitled “Unchecked fake news gave rise to an evil empire in Star Wars,” published in The Washington Post on May 4, 2017. The pingbacks started at 3:19 a.m. PST, as you can see in the screenshot below.

Reel Librarians | Pingbacks on my Jedi librarian post

Pingbacks on my Jedi librarian post

The “Unchecked fake news gave rise to an evil empire in Star Wars” piece is quite long, starting out with a dig at the professions in the Star Wars universe, including no journalists and a sole librarian:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of Washington Post article

Intro paragraph to Washington Post article

And this paragraph about in the middle of the Guarino’s piece is the one that includes a link to my Jedi librarian post:

Reel Librarians | Screenshot of Washington Post article

Screenshot of Washington Post article, with link to Jedi librarian post

When I told my husband — a lifelong Star Wars fan — the news, his face lit up. This is how he reacted on Facebook:

Reel Librarians | My husband's reaction on Facebook to the Washington Post article link

My husband’s reaction on Facebook to the Washington Post article link

Although I originally wrote the “Jedi librarian” post in spring of 2013, it continues to be a fan favorite, earning a spot in the list of most popular posts in both 2015 and 2016. I think with the help of The Washington Post, the “Jedi librarian” post is headed toward making the list again in 2017… 😀

 

The Quotable Librarian | Inspirational quotes from famous librarians

I don’t know about y’all, but I feel like I need some inspiration around here. I haven’t done a “Quotable Librarian” post in quite awhile — the last one was over two years ago, in February 2015! — so I thought it high time for another post in the series.

I thought about what kind of theme would be appropriate, and inspirational, this time around. And that’s when I came to seeking out inspirational quotes about libraries and librarians from real-life librarians themselves, including writers who were librarians.

Let the inspiration commence!


Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)


“I have always imagined Paradise as a kind of library.”

~ “Poem of the Gifts” [“Poema de los Dones”], Dreamtigers, 1960

"Jorge Luís Borges 1951" by Grete Stern (1904-1999) is in the Public Domain

“Jorge Luís Borges 1951” by Grete Stern (1904-1999) is in the Public Domain

This is arguably the most famous of all library-related quotes, from the writer and librarian Jorge Luis Borges. He rose to be the Director of the National Library of Argentina in 1955, but was forced to resign (twice, in 1946 and in 1973) due to political clashes with Juan Perón. But all the while, he was writing.

“I cannot think it unlikely that there is such a total book on some shelf in the universe. I pray to the unknown gods that some man — even a single man, tens of centuries ago — has perused and read this book. If the honor and wisdom and joy of such a reading are not to be my own, then let them be for others. Let heaven exist, though my own place may be in hell. Let me be tortured and battered and annihilated, but let there be one instant, one creature, wherein thy enormous Library may find its justification.”

“Deutsches Requiem,” Emece edition, 1974


Carla Hayden (1952- )


“Librarians were called during that time [during the Patriot Act] feisty fighters for freedom, and we were very proud of that label.”

~ interview with Jeffrey Brown, PBS, 2016

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress (2016- )

Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress (2016- )

Carla Hayden is our current and 14th Librarian of Congress, becoming the first woman and the first African American to lead our national library. She received her master’s and doctorate degrees in Library Science from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School, and she worked as a children’s and public librarian.


Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)


“To be a librarian, particularly a librarian for young adults, is to be a nourisher, to share stories, offer books full of new ideas. We live in a world which has changed radically in the last half century, and story helps us to understand and live creatively with change.”

~ Acceptance Speech for the Margaret Edwards Award, 1998

Madeleine L’Engle was a longtime librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. She won the Newbery Award in 1963 for the young adult classic novel, A Wrinkle in Time.

“”A Wrinkle in Time” writer Madeleine L’Engle shows off her writing spot” uploaded by gconversations, Standard YouTube License.


Beverly Cleary


“I haven’t been very enthusiastic about the commercialization of children’s literature. Kids should borrow books from the library and not necessarily be buying them.”

~2006 interview

“My mother always kept library books in the house, and one rainy Sunday afternoon — this was before television, and we didn’t even have a radio — I picked up a book to look at the pictures and discovered I was reading and enjoying what I read.”

~2011 interview

Beverly Cleary was raised in Oregon and became a librarian, first working as a children’s librarian and then at a medical hospital library during World War II. She won the 1981 National Book Award for Ramona and Her Mother and the 1984 Newbery Medal for Dear Mr. Henshaw. Cleary has also written two entertaining autobiographies, A Girl from Yamhill (1988) and My Own Two Feet (1995).

"Beverly Cleary in 1971" via State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives is in the Public Domain

“Beverly Cleary in 1971” via State Library Photograph Collection, 1851-1990, Washington State Archives, Digital Archives is in the Public Domain


Avi (1937- )


“For some 25 years, I worked as a librarian… My life has always been with, around, and for books.”

~ Scholastic.com article

Avi (pen name of Edward Irving Wortis) is a writer of children’s and YA books, winning the Newbery Award in 2003 for Crispin. He was one of my favorite authors when I was growing up, and I loved his two Newbery Honor books, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (1991) and Nothing But the Truth (1992). He was a librarian at the New York Public Library and at Trenton State College.

“Meet the Author: Avi” by adlit, Standard YouTube License.


Laura Bush (1946- )


“I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”

“Every child in American should have access to a well-stocked school library. … An investment in libraries is an investment in our children’s future.”

~ As quoted in Biography Today : Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers, 2003

Laura Bush was the First Lady of the United States from 2001-2009, and she worked as a school librarian in Texas. As First Lady, she helped establish the semi-annual National Book Festival.

"Norbert Claussen and Laura Bush," 2007, by Shealah Craighead, White House photographer, is in the Public Domain

“Norbert Claussen and Laura Bush,” 2007, by Shealah Craighead, White House photographer, is in the Public Domain


Nancy Pearl (1945- )


“The role of a librarian is to make sense of the world of information. If that’s not a qualification for superhero-dom, what is?”

~ as quoted in Seattle Times, 10 July 2003

Nancy Pearl is one of the most famous librarians of the modern age, well-known for her Book Lust series and philosophy that it’s okay to not finish reading a book if you don’t like it after 50 pages. She also was the model for the “shushing librarian” action figure doll!

“Librarian Action Figure from Archie McPhee” by Archie McPhee, Standard YouTube License.


Any favorite quotes of yours here? Or would you like to add a quote to the list? Please leave a comment and share!

And if you’re interested in reading more about famous real-life librarians, then check out:

 

Tweets about Reel Librarians

After a couple of intense and in-depth film analyses these last few weeks, I thought it might be nice to try something a little lighter.

I admit that I’m not personally on Twitter — and I don’t have a Twitter account for my site Reel Librarians, either — but every so often, it’s fun to explore on Twitter if anyone’s tweeted about Reel Librarians. And lo and behold, they have! 😀

Here are some of the tweet themes I’ve noticed over the years, as well as some (not all) of my favorite tweets about the Reel Librarians site in general or about specific posts:


Such a site exists!


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Real librarians love watching reel librarians


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Loving research


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Loving librarians in horror films


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Loving The Librarians TV show


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Loving librarian style


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VIP reader and tweeter


Emily, a librarian and bee keeper, is a longtime reader of Reel Librarians, and comments frequently on posts. I love that she has also tweeted often about the site — thanks so much, Emily! 😀 😀 😀

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#HarryPotterFanGirl

And last but not least, what might just be my personal favorite tweet about Reel Librarians, directly from actress Sally Mortemore, who played librarian Madam Pince in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002). She personally responded to the post I wrote about Madame Pince, comparing the librarian character in the books with her onscreen portrayal.

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Hope you enjoyed the Reel Librarian-themed tweets! I’ll be back next week with more reel librarian fun 😀