There are many kinds of librarians in both the real and reel world, including school librarians (also called “teacher librarians” or “library media specialists”); academic librarians (who work in college/university libraries); public librarians; archivists; and special librarians (who work in different kinds of libraries, like those in businesses or government offices), among others.
I thought it would be fun to first do a round-up of school librarians, as my own mother is a school librarian. Looking through my Reel Substance lists, most of the reel school librarians end up in Classes III and IV, meaning most of them are supporting or minor characters. Also, most of the school librarian characters fulfill the roles of Comic Relief and Information Providers — again, no surprise there. This is common of most reel librarian roles.
This category includes reel librarians who are major characters, but their profession does not directly affect the plot. It’s interesting to note that all three in this category are actually student library workers at their school libraries.
My Science Project (1985)
- Raphael Sbarge plays Sherman, the school nerd and know-it-all who works in the school library. He ends up being a Liberated Librarian.
Pump Up the Volume (1992)
- Student library assistant, Nora (played by Samantha Mathis), investigates the new high school student’s identity through the books he checks out. Nora is a cool character and fulfills the role of a Spirited Young Girl.
Scent of a Woman (1992)
- This coming-of-age story features a young prep school boy (Chris O’Donnell) and an alcoholic blind man (Al Pacino). O’Donnell is a student library assistant at a private prep school and is another Liberated Librarian.
Big Bully (1996)
- In this comedy, a writer (Rick Moranis) returns to his Minnesota hometown to teach a creative writing course to middle schoolers. On his first day, he revisits the school library and encounters Mrs. Rumpert, who remembers the book he never returned to the school library. This crude, stereotypical portrayal serves as Comic Relief.
- In this horror film, a teenager tries to talk to a pretty girl in the school library — and incurs the wrath of the middle-aged school librarian, a Spinster Librarian.
The Last American Virgin (1982)
- This quintessential ’80s flick includes a brief — but memorable — fight in the school library. The school librarian serves as both an Information Provider and a Spinster Librarian.
- You can more priceless reaction shots of this school librarian in my analysis post here.
- School bullies steal a book that functions as the portal between worlds, and a young boy must find the book. In the opening scene, the boy hides from the bullies in the school library. Freddie Jones plays Mr. Koreander, the school librarian and typical Information Provider.
The New Guy (2002)
- This film features a memorable opening scene, with perhaps the most crass behavior from a reel librarian! Justine Johnston plays school librarian Mrs. Whitman, who gets all handsy in her memorable Comic Relief role.
- Read my analysis post of this film in this post.
- You can also read what goes into an analysis post, which features the steps of creating the post about The New Guy.
Primary Colors (1998)
- In this fictionalized account of Bill Clinton’s presidential candidacy, the film begins with a visit to an urban school and an introduction to a “very special librarian,” Miss Walsh, a klutzy but dedicated teacher and school librarian.
- Allison Janney plays the school librarian and fulfills the role of both Comic Relief and Information Provider.
- This classic, award-winning film features a scene in the school library, in which a stern school librarian kicks two girls out of the library for making too much noise.
- Memorable quote: “This is a library, not a fun fair!”
The Substitute (1996)
- Ex-marine John Shale (Tom Berenger) goes undercover as a high school substitute teacher in order to investigate a gang. The middle-aged librarian has her own “Liberated Librarian” moment and stands up to the hoodlums, who start a shoot-out with John in the school library.
Up the Down Staircase (1967)
- The school librarian in this film, the aptly named “Miss Wolf,” appears in several short scenes as the school librarian at a tough, inner-city high school. Not a flattering portrayal of a Spinster Librarian/Comic Relief reel librarian.
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
- In this reboot of Spider-Man, creator Stan Lee camps it up in a librarian cameo. Definitely a memorable Comic Relief role!
- You can read my first impressions post of the film here.
Carrie (TV, 2002)
- This TV remake has a few scenes set in the school library, and a school librarian can be glimpsed in the background. She serves as an Information Provider.
- Read my analysis post of this TV movie here in this post.
Dangerous Minds (1995)
- An ex-Marine (Michelle Pfeiffer) struggles to connect with her students in an inner city high school. There is one scene set in the school library, and you can glimpse two school librarians in the background. More Information Providers who help set the school library scene.
High School High (1996)
- In this parody of films like Dangerous Minds (see above), a naïve teacher (Jon Lovitz) gets a job at a high school in the ‘hood — and gets heckled by a mean-girl school librarian.
Killer Movie (2008)
- Another parody, this one of school slasher flicks, this film features one scene in a school library — and a memorable shot of a scary-looking school librarian. If looks could kill.
- Click here to read my analysis post of Killer Movie.
Mad Love (1995)
- High-schoolers Matt (Chris O’Donnell) and Casey (Drew Barrymore) fall in love and flee on a road trip. The nosy school librarian, an Information Provider, rats out Casey’s bad-girl behavior.
My Bodyguard (1980)
- A new kid hires the school outcast to protect him against a school bully. There’s a brief scene in the school library, and the school librarian provides background to the setting.
You may be wondering about a big hole on this list, as it does not feature Giles — the famous Giles — on the TV series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003). You can read more about my post on the first episode of the long-running TV series by clicking here.