Revisiting favorites | Marian or Marion?, May 28, 2012

Continuing my “Summer of Nostalgia” blog tour and revisiting past favorites on this blog…  next up is a post from May 2012, “Marian or Marion?

I’ll pause while you read the original post

Screenshot from a favorite post on Reel Librarians

Reel Librarian favorite post

Why this post?

I love that one of my favorite posts stemmed from an idea as simple as spelling. Where I started from, as you can tell from the title, was from the fact that I couldn’t ever seem to remember how to spell the name of the librarian in The Music Man, who also is the lead female role in the film. Was it spelled “Marian” with an “a” or “Marion” with an “o”?

And then my post went from there to research the character from the originated play by Meredith Willson. As I wrote back in 2012:

And lo and behold, he based the lead female role on an actual librarian! (I don’t know if that’s a compliment or not to our profession. Guess it depends on how much you like the play or subsequent adaptations.) A little snippet, “A Pair of Marians,” in the March 2005 issue of American Libraries revealed that Willson met Marian Seeley, a medical records librarian from Provo, Utah, in California during World War II. He dubbed her “Marian the Librarian.”

So Willson based his fictional Marian with an “a” on a real Marian with an “a.”

Fascinating! This is what I love so much about doing this blog and why this kind of film analysis and related research sustains me still, even after almost 20 years. I get to go on scavenger hunts and learn new things all the time, even when I don’t expect to. (Probably serves an indicator of why I also still love being a librarian. 😉 )

I also reveal in that post snippets of interviews from the real-life “Marian the Librarian,” so I’d definitely go back and reread that post.

New thoughts?

So in my original post, I wrote that “maybe after writing this, I won’t have to look it up again.” Well, that hasn’t happened… I still forget sometimes how “Marian the Librarian” character name is spelled. What do I do when that happens? Look back at that post! (True story.) 😀

I also find it amusing that my screenshots of Google searches back in spring 2012 serve as a kind of time capsule. So OF COURSE I did those same searches again in 2016, just to see if there were any differences. And there were! Turns out, there are even fewer search results for either spelling:

  • “Marian the Librarian” –> 72,200 results in May 2012 ; 52,600 results in July 2016
  • “Marion the Librarian” –> 41,400 results in May 2012 ; 15,900 results in July 2016

But I wonder if that has more to do with Google’s search algorithm formula than with the popularity of the character. (FYI, if you do the searches without the quotation marks, you get more results. But pro tip, the quotation marks are useful to put around phrases, so you end up with more relevant results.)

Also now, when you search for the misspelling of “Marion the Librarian,” Google auto-corrects it, although you can still choose to search for the misspelled version.

Screenshot for Google search

Dare I hope that after writing this retrospective post, I will now remember so I won’t have to look it up again? 😉


I’ll be back next week to revisit another Reel Librarians favorite!

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