Adventures in trivia

Highlighting the ‘Bib/Triv: Profundities, Banalities, and Trivialities in Libraryland’ book

When I first started out researching the field of reel librarians — this was back in my undergrad days — one of the first books I came across was a book called Bib/Triv: Profundities, Banalities, and Trivialities in Libraryland, by Frederick Duda.

An odd-yet-charming title, no?

It’s fun still to flip through this slim little volume, published in 1992 by McFarland & Co.

Front cover of BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book
Front cover of BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book

The back of the book makes me chuckle:  But if the idea of an entire volume bursting with succulent morsels of unheard of trivia about books, libraries and librarians makes your mouth water and your hands tremble — well, you probably need counseling more urgently than you need this book.

Back cover of BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book
Back cover of BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book

The bulk of this book is made up of 100 sets of trivia questions, divided into four areas:  the arts, books/authors, literature. and potpourri. Wouldn’t this be a PERFECT resource to convert into a librarian-themed version of Jeopardy?

There are several reel-librarian related questions, sprinkled in amongst the arts questions. Samples include:

What is the message on the license plate of the beautiful special collections librarian in the 1989 Paramount movie about baseball?. (from page 5)

In the 1978 Paramount movie Foul Play, what piece of library equipment does the librarian use to fend off an attack by a paid assassin? (from pages 44-45)

In The Music Man, Mrs. Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn, the wife of the mayor of River City, Iowa, denounces Marian Paroo for the “smutty” books she gave to Mrs. Shinn’s daughter. Which of the following is the book in question?  (from page 55)

a. The Picture of Dorian Gray
b. Maggie: A Girl of the Streets
c. Sister Carrie
d. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Do you know the answers to these questions? If so, drop a guess in the comments!

Excerpt from BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book
Excerpt from BIB/TRIV, from my own copy of the book

In his introduction, Duda reveals that his interest in the image of the librarian was a topic he did not realize was “problematical until I entered the field.” I totally get what he’s saying! He also reveals how he “once thought that librarians were depicted as no better or worse than the rest of humanity.”  Before long, however, he “found innumerable stereotypes and only some examples of attractive and praiseworthy men and women.”

But he winds up on a positive note. “We can laugh at ourselves, and we should.” Amen!

It’s a fun book to revisit, and one I’m thankful I have. 🙂


Sources used:


  • Duda, Frederick. Bib/Triv: Profundities, Banalities, and Trivialities in Libraryland. McFarland, 1992.

Reel librarian firsts


1912:


The Librarian, first film to feature a librarian


1919:


A Very Good Young Man, first film to feature a male librarian

Notable: The main character’s profession was changed from brass bed factory worker in the play to librarian in the film


1921:


The Lost Romance, first film to feature a librarian with glasses and a bun (the Spinster Librarian image begins!)

Trophy graphic by qimono via Pixabay is licensed under CC0 (public domain)
Trophy graphic by qimono via Pixabay is licensed under CC0 (public domain)

1932:


Forbidden, first sound film to feature a librarian

Notable: “Old lady foureyes!” In the film’s opening scene, two small boys shout this as public librarian Lulu Smith (Barbara Stanwyck) walks down the street.


1932:


No Man of Her Own, first film to feature a librarian in undergarments


1933 & 1940:


First films to feature a librarian saying, “Shush!”


1943:


The Seventh Victim, first horror film to feature a librarian


1953:


Pickup on South Street, first film to feature an African-American librarian


1984:


Cal, first (non-erotic) film to feature a nude librarian (Helen Mirren)


Sources used:


  • Tevis, Ray, and Brenda Tevis. The Image of Librarians in Cinema 1917-1999. McFarland, 2005.