The Jedi librarian

“If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.”

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I watched the fan edit of the Star War prequel trilogy, entitled Star Wars:  Rise of the Empire, which was compiled back in 2007. Out of the 7+ hours of the original prequels (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, 2002; Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, 2005), this techie fan managed to whittle the story down to a still-healthy-yet-manageable 4 hours. It seemed like a majority of the second prequel, Attack of the Clones, stayed on the cutting-room floor (no more painful love scenes out on the lake by Naboo, thank goodness!), but guess which scene made the cut in its entirety?

That’s right, the library scene!

Library in Star Wars Episode II
The Jedi archives library is still quite recognizable as a library, with its rows of bookcases and library tables. The cool blue tones of the scene also suggest a certain coolness, or aloofness, that we will see reflected in the Jedi librarian’s manner, as well.

Early on in Star Wars, Episode II:  Attack of the Clones, Obi-Wan (Ewan MacGregor) visits the Jedi Archives to research a mysterious planet called Kamino. During his talk with the archivist librarian (Alethea McGrath as Madame Jocasta Nu, seen below), Obi-Wan discovers that the planet has been removed from the navigation maps of the Jedi archives.

Madame Jocasta Nu, Jedi librarian
Alethea McGrath as Jocasta Nu, Jedi librarian and (mis)Information Provider

Here’s how their interaction plays out:

Jocasta Nu:  Did you call for assistance?

Obi-Wan:  Yes, yes, I did.

Jocasta Nu:  Are you having a problem, Master Kenobi?

Obi-Wan:  Yes, I’m looking for a planetary system called Kamino.

Jocasta Nu:  Kamino.

Obi-Wan:  It doesn’t show up on the archive charts.

Jocasta Nu:  Kamino. It’s not a system I’m familiar with. Are you sure you have the right coordinates?

Obi-Wan:  According to my information, it should appear in this quadrant here, just south of the Rishi Maze.

Jedi librarian’s reference interview
Jedi librarian’s reference interview

So far, so good. But when the computer screen pulls up a blank on that quadrant, the Jedi librarian fails to look further:

Jocasta Nu [shaking her head]:  I hate to say it, but it looks like the system you’re searching for doesn’t exist.

Obi-Wan:  Impossible. Perhaps the archives are incomplete.

Jocasta Nu:  If an item does not appear in our records, it does not exist.

This is not at all a flattering scene for real librarians or archivists; that look on Jocasta Nu’s face during her last line is a real groaner, as seen below.

Jedi librarian glare in Star Wars Episode II
The chilly look on the Jedi librarian’s face when Obi-Wan suggests that the archives are incomplete.

Obi-Wan is not convinced of Jocasta Nu’s declaration. He takes his discovery to Yoda, and they reason that this erasing of archival data could have only been done by a Jedi, suggesting a dangerous conspiracy.

This library scene is a classic cinematic example of a failed reference interview, to be sure. (I’ve even used it as training example of what NOT to do on the reference desk!) Where are the follow-up questions? A keyword search for “Kamino” in other archival collections? A search to see when/if the planetary archives log has been tampered with? A helpful referral for another archivist or department to look into the matter?

Nope, none of those things that would (hopefully) happen in the real world. (SIGH.)

Obi-Wan contemplates his options after talking with the Jedi librarian in Star Wars Episode II
Obi-Wan contemplates his options after talking with the Jedi librarian.

Nevertheless, this library archives scene is still quite an important one, and Jocasta Nu still remains a key Information Provider (even if she is a provider of misinformation in this case). It’s a pivotal scene that propels the plot forward, revealing the depth of the conspiracy. Even Jocasta Nu’s prim refusal to believe in the infallibility of the archives adds proof to the difficult task ahead of Obi-Wan and the Jedi, who are fighting generations of tradition and complacency — the very things that the Emperor is manipulating to ensure his plan’s success.

All of this helps explains why this Class III library scene — all one minute of it! — survived the fan edit.

Also, it turns out that Jocasta Nu makes a reappearance in the 2005 video game version of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. And she has earned her own action figure!

Hasbro Star Wars Vintage Collection Exclusive Jocasta Nu Figure Video Review” video uploaded by Pixel Dan is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:


Author: Jennifer

Librarian, blogger, movie lover

33 thoughts on “The Jedi librarian”

  1. Hi Jen. I came across this article while searching something that struck me as interesting watching the scene in Episode II which this blog focuses on. I haven’t watched this in awhile and on this viewing I realized that even more than a library, this has overtones of a church IMO. Very Vatican Library-esque. Also, the glowing “books” remind me a lot of stained glass, especially in the tighter shots. It’s not surprising, since the Jedi are what I would call a non-theistic religion, with generations of tradition and complacency as you stated. This was all punctuated with her stating “…it must not exist”. To me this scene was a nod to the stagnant and myopic view of some major religions in the face of science and progress. (She even had an altar boy!) In the next scene with Obi-Wan, Yoda and the Padawan learners they solve the problem with some quick astrophysics. Anyway, this is a ramble and I’m sure it’s been thought of and discussed before. I just wanted to say that I know any librarian worth their salt wouldn’t have given such a curt and unhelpful response!

    Dewey need librarians? Decimally! (Worst library pun ever? Be honest.)

    j

    1. Yes, you make a good point about the library in this movie looking and feeling church-like. Reminds me of the ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’ movie, in which the library building was LITERALLY an old church. And libraries could be considered as churches of knowledge in a way… 😉 You might also be interested in a blog post I wrote a few years back, about how some reel librarians cinematically echo religious figures, such as the nun or monk, here at https://reel-librarians.com/2012/06/15/out-of-the-habit/.

      And yes, I would hope that a “real” librarian would not react in the way that Jocasta Nu reacts! And I am NEVER averse to a good (or bad) library pun 😉

  2. Amazed to find someone who took seriously the scene I’m looking for. I’m not exactly a librarian, but currently working on a project for National Archives of Korea, and will have to do a presentation next week. The library scene from Star Wars struck me while outlining my presentation. Hmm, I thought mentioning this scene could wake up audience. (you know, we easily get sleepy.) But I only remembered that scene appeared sometime when Obi-wan or Anikan were looking for clone factory. I googled and found your post. Yes, this capture is what I wanted! Thanks for the dialogue as well. I may also mention your post. Hope that’s ok.

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah, for commenting (and I’m sorry it took me so long to respond!), and yes, it was totally fine if you mentioned my post. How did the presentation go?

      And I loved your first line of the comment, that you were “amazed to find someone who took [that archives scene] seriously” — that comment is one I get in many variations about this whole site! 😀

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