Going back down the rabbit hole | Librarian misspellings and search terms

A post revisiting all the different ways people misspell the word “librarians”

In my “Down the rabbit hole” post from July 2013, I explored site statistics for different ways and keywords people searched to get to my Reel Librarians site, which turned into a post about all the different ways people misspelled the word “librarians.”

List of common misspellings for the word librarian
List of common misspellings for the word librarian

I thought it would be fun — or maddening? or both?! — to revisit this idea and see if anyone has gotten any better at spelling the word “librarians” in the resulting three years.

Spoiler alert? They haven’t. 😦 Most common misspellings continue to include librianslibbrarians, and libarians.

Also, does anyone else itch to replicate some of the more interesting/odd keyword searches, just to see how it connects to your site? ‘Cause y’all know I totally did that!



  • Over 15,000 keyword searches
  • Theme of searches for librarian names:
    • funny librarian names
    • funny names for librarians
    • cool librarian nicknames
    • sexy librarian names
    • common librarian names


  • Almost 12,000 keyword searches
  • Again, a theme of searches for librarian names!
    • funny librarian names
    • librarian names
    • other names for librarians
    • librarian nicknames
    • names for librarians
    • Names of librarians
    • sexy librarian names
    • naughty librarian names
    • librarian name

It was very interesting to note the recurring theme of searches for librarian names. I did a post a few years ago about names of major librarian characters, as well as a post about common screen credits and titles for reel librarians… perhaps I should revisit that theme again?

Please leave a comment and let me know what you think about that idea. Or send me some additional, interesting names of major librarian characters, to add to my list! 🙂


Librarian is a librarian is a librarian

Generic character names of reel librarians

I have been thinking about names and titles lately, like when I took a look last week at librarians as title characters. And no surprise, almost all of those title characters are in the Class I and Class II categories, in which librarians are the protagonists or other major characters. But what about the librarians in the Class III and Class IV categories, films in which librarians play minor characters or blink-and-you’ll-miss-the-back-of-the-librarian’s-head kind of cameos?

A few of those roles do have character names (yay!) but the majority do not. At this point in my research, out of the 140 or so films listed in the Class III and Class IV categories:

  • 61 roles (46 female, 15 male) are credited simply as “Librarian
  • Almost 30 more (19 female, 10 male) are uncredited, earning no name at all 😦
  • A handful include “clerk” in the character names, such as:
  • A few include gender-specific clues:
  • A couple of films include the word “book” as a character descriptor:

And there are the less-so-flattering character titles, including (but most definitely not limited to):

A librarian by any other name…

In name only? Librarians as title characters

From “big boys” to “handmaids”

There are quite a few main characters who are reel librarians — see my Class I and II categories — but what about title characters? Film posters and taglines hardly ever mention the librarian occupation (see my “Advertising the Reel Librarian” post), but there are a few reel librarians who serve as title characters, however obscure the connection might appear at first glance.

Let’s explore, shall we? 😉

I’ve listed the films below according to the years released. And it isn’t at all surprising that all the films below, except for one, are found in the Class I and Class II categories.

Desk Set (1957):

The “desk set” in this classic comedy refer to the librarians in a TV network’s research department, headed by Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn).

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965):

The title spy in question is Alec Leamus (Richard Burton), who actually pretends to quit the British Secret Service and defect in this slow burning Cold War drama. As part of his cover as a failed spy, Alec starts work as a librarian at the Institute of Psychical Research. This title role is also one of the few Oscar-nominated reel librarian roles.

You’re a Big Boy Now (1966):

The “big boy” of the title is Bernard Chanticleer (Peter Kastner), a young man who works as a page at the New York Public Library and falls for a go-go dancer (Hartman). A charming, if odd, coming-of-age story that was director Francis Ford Coppola’s master’s thesis from UCLA film school.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990):

In this dystopian tale, fertile young women are trained as Handmaids and treated as slaves in their assigned households. Natasha Richardson plays the title’s Handmaid, and we learn in one scene that she used to be a librarian before the war and resulting strict social order.

Joe Versus the Volcano (1990):

The “Joe” of the title is Joe Banks (Tom Hanks), an “average Joe” stuck in a thankless job as an advertising librarian for a medical supply company. After learning he has only weeks to live, he embarks on an adventure to sacrifice himself in an island volcano. A typical male Liberated Librarian role.

The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag (1992):

In order to get attention and add some excitement to her dull life, a small-town public librarian (Penelope Ann Miller) — the Betty Lou in the film’s title — finds a gun and confesses to a murder she did not commit. The quintessential female Liberated Librarian role.

The Pagemaster (1994):

Scaredy-cat kid Richie (Macaulay Culkin) enters a library to escape a storm—and literally ends up in another world in this half-animated, half-live action film. Although Culkin is the main star, the title character is played by Christopher Lloyd, both the librarian, Mr. Dewey (get it?!) and the Pagemaster, “the keeper of the books, the guardian of the written word.”

Party Girl (1995):

New York party girl Mary (Parker Posey) repays a loan to her godmother by working as a library clerk in a public library. She discovers her vocation (“I want to be a librarian!”) after learning the Dewey Decimal system one night at the library. This is also one of the only films I have found so far that has used the word librarian in its advertising!

Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999):

The “drop dead gorgeous” girls in this Class IV film refer to local beauty pageant contestants. There are a couple of small, but memorable, cameo scenes with the 1945 beauty pageant winner, now the town librarian.

“The Librarian” TV trilogy (Quest for the Spear, 2004; Return to King Solomon’s Mines, 2006; The Curse of the Judas Chalice, 2009):

Flynn Carsen (Noah Wyle) serves as the title librarian, using his wits and intelligence during globe-crossing adventures to seek out artifacts for the Metropolitan Public Library’s archives.

Any personal favorites? Please leave a comment and let me know.

Sources used:

  • Desk Set. Dir. Walter Lang. Perf. Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Gig Young, Joan Blondell, Dina Merrill. 20th Century Fox, 1957.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous. Dir. Michael Patrick Jann. Perf. Kirsten Dunst, Kirstie Alley, Denise Richards, Ellen Barkin, Allison Janney. New Line Cinema, 1999.
  • The Gun in Betty Lou’s Handbag. Dir. Allan Moyle. Perf. Penelope Ann Miller, Eric Thal, William Forsythe, Alfre Woodard. Touchstone, 1992.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale. Dir. Volker Schlindorff. Perf. Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Robert Duvall, Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth McGovern. Cinecom, 1990.
  • Joe Versus the Volcano. Dir. John Patrick Shanley. Perf. Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack. Warner Bros., 1990.
  • The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (TV movie). Dir. Peter Winther. Perf. Noah Wyle, Sonya Walger, Bob Newhart, Kyle MacLachlan, Kelly Hu. TNT, 2004.
  • The Pagemaster. Dir. Joe Johnston, Maurice Hunt & Pixote Hunt. Perf. Macaulay Culkin, Christopher Lloyd, Patrick Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg. 20th Century Fox, 1994.
  • Party Girl. Dir. Daisy von Scherler Mayer. Perf. Parker Posey, Sasha von Scherler, Guillermo Diaz, Liev Schreiber. First Look, 1995.
  • The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. Dir. Martin Ritt. Perf. Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker. Paramount, 1965.
  • You’re a Big Boy Now. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. Perf. Peter Kastner, Elizabeth Hartman, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, Julie Harris, Karen Black. Seven Arts, 1966. Based on the novel by David Benedictus.

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:

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