Male Character Types

Male Librarian as a FailureLiberated LibrarianAnti-Social Male LibrarianNaughty LibrarianInformation ProviderComic Relief

Male Librarian as a Failure

Role: Suggestive of flaws in library: only “failures” would choose to—or resort to—work in a library; Sometimes failure is used as a pretense or social construct (e.g. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold)

Note: Prison librarians, who fit into this category as societal “failures,” often get their positions because of good behavior while in prison

Age: Usually middle-aged to old

Clothing & Physical Appearance: Conservative: dark colors, suit, bowtie or tie, button-up shirt, etc.; Drab uniforms for prison librarians

Personality: Uncomfortable in social/outside world situations


  • James Whitmore in The Shawshank Redemption (see YouTube video below)
  • Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
  • Jonathan Pryce in Brazil
  • Jack Fletcher in Off Beat

Brooks Was Here – The Shawshank Redemption” clip uploaded by Chrismax on Sept. 4, 2010. Standard YouTube License.

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Liberated Librarian

Role: Initially similar to the Male Librarian as a Failure—but eventually breaks free (often at the very end of the film); Usually needs outside force or action to aid in or instigate “liberation”

Age: Usually younger, mid-twenties to middle-aged (time to redeem themselves)

Clothing & Physical Appearance: Usually becomes more masculine after “liberation”

Personality: Becomes more assertive after “liberation”


  • Tom Hanks in Joe Versus the Volcano (see YouTube video below)
  • Judge Reinhold in Off Beat
  • Jack Gilford in They Might Be Giants
  • Jason Robards in Something Wicked This Way Comes

Joe vs The Volcano – Joe Quits” clip uploaded by RdHolland on Sept. 5, 2007. Standard YouTube License.

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Anti-Social Male Librarian

Role: Male equivalent of Spinster Librarian; Hoards knowledge; Supporting or minor characters rarely seen outside the library

Age: Middle-aged to old

Clothing: Conservative: dark colors, suit, bowtie or tie, button-up shirt, etc.

Physical Appearance: Generally unattractive

Personality: Exhibits poor social skills; Very unfriendly, seems to dislike people; Elitist—rates the library and its rules above the public


  • John Rothman in Sophie’s Choice (see YouTube video below)
  • Delos V. Smith, Jr. & Bill Derringer in Goodbye, Columbus
  • Volker Prechtel in The Name of the Rose
  • Charles McCowen in Prick Up Your Ears

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Naughty Librarian

Role: A sexually charged male librarian (focused on sex rather than a diluted vision of love); Usually unsuccessful professionally

Age: Middle-aged to old

Clothing & Physical Appearance: Generally depicted as unattractive and sexually unappealing to others

Personality: Usually viewed as creepy, sexually deviant, or wimpy


  • Peter Sellers in Only Two Can Play (see YouTube video below)
  • Michael Habeck in The Name of the Rose
  • Rip Torn in You’re a Big Boy Now

Randy Librarian – Peter Sellers” clip uploaded by Glyph Jockey on Oct. 5, 2008. Standard YouTube License.

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Information Provider

Role: Provides information/misinformation to a character (or to the audience: includes establishing library setting); Highlights importance of rules: Either rule-mongers or rule-breakers (will bend the rules in special circumstances); Most identified by occupational tasks: shelving, stamping, pushing book carts, checking out books, answering a reference question, closing up, etc.; Supporting or minor characters

Age: Variety of ages

Clothing & Physical Appearance: Racially diverse with variety of clothing and physical characteristics

Personality: Often roles are too brief to establish personality; Usually listed only as “Librarian” in credits


  • Orlando Jones in The Time Machine
  • Victor Desy in Agnes of God
  • Adam Biesk in Flight of the Intruder
  • Hugh Simon in Possession

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Comic Relief

Role: Usually the target of jokes; Crudest portrayal of librarians; Supporting or minor characters

Age: Middle-aged to old

Clothing: Conservative

Physical Appearance: Either too thin or overweight (extremes add to the humor); Conservative or plain appearance and hair style

Personality: Prefers books over people; Anal-retentiveness makes them funny!


  • Uncredited male in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (see photo and PC game rendition below – library scene begins at 3:50)
  • Melville Cooper in Pride and Prejudice
  • Stringer Davis in Murder at the Gallop
  • Roger Callard in UHF

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5 comments on “Male Character Types

  1. Bill Nikolai says:

    Cool! ‘Still trying to figure out what category I fit in … consternation and confusion abound!

  2. mcallaha09 says:

    when did you post this?

  3. […] Johnnie does find his own kind of peace in the end of the film. In this way, Johnnie fulfills the Liberated Librarian character type. Initially seen as a failure, the male Liberated Librarian eventually breaks free (even in a […]

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