What’s in a name?

Great character names for reel librarians

The analysis in the “One of the Invisible Professions on Screen” article about the character of library science professor Sylvia Van Buren (played by Ann Robinson) is spot-on, and I agree that “Sylvia Van Buren” is a fantastic name for a librarian!

"Hello my name is sticker" graphic is in the public domain
“Hello my name is sticker” graphic is in the public domain

So that got me thinking… what are some other great character names for reel librarians? Here are some of my picks:

  • Bebe Neuwirth as Sylvia Marpole in An Extremely Goofy Movie (2000, animated) — another Sylvia, but this one is way more fun
  • Goldie Hawn as Gloria Mundy in Foul Play (1978) — one of my favorite reel librarian characters, with a name that winks at her “Girl Monday” characteristics
  • Selina Cadell as Miss Battersby in Prick Up Your Ears (1987) — a very descriptive surname for this uptight public librarian
  • Valerie Curtin as Miss Ophelia Sheffer in Maxie (1985) — an innocent-sounding name for this Naughty Librarian
  • Judi Dench as Marcia Pilborough in Wetherby (1985) — an imperial name for this imperious librarian
  • Emilia Fox as Spig in Shooting the Past (TV, 1999) — a wonderfully quirky name for this Spirited Young Girl character
  • Frances Sternhagen as Charlotte Wolf in Up the Down Staircase (1967) — another (unfortunately) descriptive name for this school librarian
  • Barbara Stanwyck as Lulu Smith in Forbidden (1932) — the quintessential name for a Liberated Librarian! Her surname sounds so generic and blah, seemingly perfect for a small-town, mild-mannered librarian, but the fanciful first name hints at what lies beneath the surface (see right)
  • James Frain as Forney Hull in Where the Heart Is (2000) — Southern names are kind of endearing, aren’t they? You just want to root for a guy saddled with a name like “Forney”
  • Claudia Wilkens as Iona Hildebrandt in Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999) — a lot of name for this librarian cameo, but with a name like that, she manages to get in a few zingers
  • Katharine Hepburn as Bunny Watson in Desk Set (1957) — you’ve got to have a female librarian named Bunny at some point, and Katharine Hepburn pulls it off in matter-of-fact fashion
  • Charles Grodin as Harrison Winslow in Heart and Souls (1993) — can’t you just SEE the bow tie and buttoned-up demeanor in this name yearning to break loose for this Liberated Librarian?
  • Morgan Farley, John Barclay, Belle Mitchell, and Cyril Delevanti as The Books in Soylent Green (1973) — in this dystopian tale, the librarians are known simply as “Books” — appropriate yet a bit forbidding, as this utilitarian moniker strips away their personal identities
  • Peter Kastner as Bernard Chanticleer and Rip Torn as I. H. Chanticleer in You’re a Big Boy Now (1966) — I just like repeating the surname. Chanticleer. Chanticleer. Try it! It’s fun.
  • Shirley Jones as Marian Paroo in The Music Man (1962) — a reel librarian list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Marian the Librarian, right?!

Sources used:


Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

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