A closer look at the reel librarians in the original ‘Ghostbusters’

The film features not one, but three, librarian characters in the opening scenes filmed at the iconic central branch of the New York Public Library.

I have written about 1984’s Ghostbusters in bits and pieces before on the blog, including a “Who you gonna call?” post delving into the Librarian Ghost, as well as a “Repeat offenders” post highlighting John Rothman and his penchant for playing insensitive librarians in the early ’80s, including Ghostbusters. The comedy classic was also on the original list of reel librarians films I watched for my original undergraduate thesis, as well as on my list of best librarian films by decade.

However, when I recently rewatched Ghostbusters, I realized there was an opportunity for a closer, more comprehensive look at the librarians and library scene that opens the film. After all, the film features not one, but three, librarian characters in the opening scenes filmed at the iconic central branch of the New York Public Library.

Opening scenes in the library:

The film opens on the steps of the New York Public Library, with a close-up gaze upon one of the iconic “Library Lion” statues guarding the central branch.

One of the Library Lion statues at the New York Public Library, opening shot of Ghostbusters (1984)
One of the Library Lion statues at the New York Public Library, opening shot of Ghostbusters (1984)

The film then immediately cuts to a close-up of a reel librarian, who is also as stone-faced as the statue outside. Character actress Alice Drummond, 56 years old at the time of filming, plays a public librarian named Alice, and her librarian props are out in full force, with a cart and books. Her clothing, consisting of a ruffled tie blouse and a cardigan sweater, is also conservative and buttoned-up. The only thing missing to complete the picture of a stereotypical librarian is a pair of glasses on a chain!

Opening shot of Alice the librarian in Ghostbusters (1984)
Opening shot of Alice the librarian in Ghostbusters (1984)

We follow Alice as she goes downstairs to shelve a few books.  The DVD commentary revealed that while the upstairs scenes were filmed in the actual New York Public Library — the library allowed the film crew to film until 10 a.m., so they had to work quickly! — the downstairs scenes were filmed at the Los Angeles Public Library.

As Alice walks deeper into the stacks, spooky things happen behind her back (literally), as books float past shelves, and card catalog drawer fly open and start spewing cards into the air. (I learned through the commentary that this was a practical effects shot of pushing drawers from behind a fake wall and blowing air through tubes to make the cards fly up.)

Paranormal activity in the library card catalog, in the opening scene from Ghostbusters (1984)
Paranormal activity in the library card catalog, in the opening scene from Ghostbusters (1984)

It’s interesting to note that Alice is almost completely silent through this opening scene. The first time we hear her voice is when she screams. It’s also very clever that we don’t see the ghost ourselves in this opening scene. In fact, with the screaming and up-lit visage of the scared librarian, she looks kind of like a ghost herself!

Reel librarian screams
Reel librarian screams

You can see a clip from the opening scene here:

Ghostbusters Library Index Card and Entrance Theme” video uploaded by Dan Baierl is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

A quick scene in-between the two library scenes takes place at a local university, at the Paranormal Studies department, and helps establish the characters of the scientists and soon-to-be-Ghostbusters.

Peter Venkman (Bill Murray) is conducting an experiment when Ray Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) bursts in, excitedly shouting, “This is it. This is definitely it!” He goes on to explain:

At 1:40 p.m. at the main branch of the New York Public Library on 5th avenue, 10 people witnessed a free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparition. It blew books off shelves from 20 feet away and scared the socks off some poor librarian.

This bit of dialogue bridges to the library scenes, as Venkman and Stantz meet up with Egon Spengler in the library itself. Venkman makes noise slamming a book on the table, which alerts the library administrator. This is our first glance at Roger Delacourt (John Rothman), who is dressed conservatively in a dark blazer and tie:

First glance at the library administrator in Ghostbusters (1984)
First glance at the library administrator in Ghostbusters (1984)

Delacourt — notice that he gets a last name, plus a pair of glasses! — approaches the three scientists. After brief introductions, he immediately gets down to business and reveals his real concern:

Thank you for coming. Hopefully we can clear this up quickly, and quietly.

Meet cute between the library administrator and the Ghostbusters
Meet cute between the library administrator and the Ghostbusters

Next, everyone is clustered around a table, with “some poor librarian” on her back and murmuring. This scene is also when we first hear her character’s name, Alice (but we only get her first name). Delacourt, the library manager, hovers around as if he’s fighting the urge to all shush them for causing a scene in the library.

Not a meet-cute between the scared librarian and the Ghostbusters
Not a meet-cute between the scared librarian and the Ghostbusters

Remember, up to this point, all we’ve heard from Alice is her screaming. This next scene, we get to hear her actual speaking voice as Venkman asks her a series of questions, in order to gauge her competency.

Alice:  I don’t remember seeing any legs but it definitely had arms, because it reached out for me.

Peter Venkman:  Alice, I’m gonna ask you a couple of standard questions, okay? Have you or any member of your family ever been diagnosed schizophrenic, mentally incompetent…?

Alice:  My uncle thought he was St. Jerome.

Peter Venkman:  I’d call that a big yes. [Pause] Are you habitually using drugs, stimulants, alcohol?

Alice: No. [horrified]

By this point in the interview, Roger begins to look even more nervy and agitated.

Peter Venkman:  No, no, just asking. Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?

Roger can no longer stand it and butts in.

Roger Delacourt:  What has THAT got to do with it?

Peter Venkman:  Back off, man. I’m a scientist.

The library administrator gets the jitters in Ghostbusters (1984)
The library administrator gets the jitters in Ghostbusters (1984)

The three paranormal scientists then go down to the library basement themselves. The first spooky thing is… symmetrical book-stacking! The horror! As Venkman assesses, “You’re right, no human being would stack books like this.

We learn on the DVD commentary that it was Ivan Reitman’s idea on the day to do the symmetrical book-stacking!

Paranormal book-stacking
Paranormal book-stacking

They then come across the card catalog drawers and ectoplasmic residue — “Look at this mess!” — and as they round a corner, a bookcase topples. Turns out, this bit was not planned!

The part where the bookcase falls over and Venkman asks Ray “Has this ever happened to you before?” was not part of the original script. The bookcase actually fell over of its own accord (possibly from being disturbed by various crew members) and the subsequent lines were ad-libbed. It was decided to leave this material in as it added an extra element of mystery to the atmosphere as to whether it was a natural occurrence, or a malicious act on the part of the ghost for which the soon-to-be Ghostbusters were looking. (from IMDB.com Trivia page)

A library bookcase falls -- by accident! -- in a library scene from Ghostbusters (1984)
A library bookcase falls — by accident! — in a library scene from Ghostbusters (1984)

The scientists then come across the Librarian Ghost — excuse me, the “full torso vaporous apparition” — who is reading a book and floating in her Victorian-style dress.

When Venkman tries to speak to her, the ghost shushes him. (That’s how we know it’s a librarian!)

The library ghost in Ghostbusters (1984)
The library ghost in Ghostbusters (1984)

When they try to corner the Librarian Ghost, she morphs into a monstrous form and scares the socks off them, “some poor scientists.”

The DVD commentary revealed that this scene was one of the first ones they finished the special effects for. This first moment of seeing the librarian ghost was one the producers screened about 3 weeks after editing the film, and the audience freaked out, screaming and laughing at the same time. That’s when they knew the film was going to work!

As the soon-to-be Ghostbusters run screaming from the library, the hapless library director runs out after them.

Did you see it? What was it?

We’ll get back to you.

WHAT?!

The library administrator freaks out, at the end of the library scene in Ghostbusters (1984)
The library administrator freaks out, at the end of the library scene in Ghostbusters (1984)

The role of the librarians:

Now that we’ve gotten a look at all three reel librarian in Ghostbusters, let’s delve into the roles and purposes they provide in this Class III film:

I previously identified Alice as fulfilling the dual roles of the Spinster Librarian character type, as well as the Comic Relief character type.

Her Spinster Librarian role is reflected in:

  • Her conservative, buttoned-up clothing
  • Uptight demeanor, as shown in the first shot, turning into timid/meek personality, after being scared by the librarian ghost
  • Rule-monger who is horrified first by the mess made by the spilling of library cards in the card catalog
  • Her sexual undesirability, or at least de-emphasis on her femininity, as revealed through the menstruation question and her horrified (and speechless) reaction to it

In my post about Comic Relief librarians, I wrote:

“The films that provide glimpses of librarians for comedic purposes only also are the films that depict the crudest portrayals overall of librarian stereotypes. The Comic Relief librarians mostly wind up in comedies — shocker, I know — or at least in films that include comedic undertones or situations. Their purpose is the most obvious of all reel librarian roles, but the librarians of this type do not necessarily entertain themselves or other characters in the film — rather, they entertain the audience. Exclusively minor characters, the Comic Relief librarians serve as the target of jokes, and the audience is encouraged to laugh at them.”

This description perfectly sums up how Alice fulfills the Comic Relief role in this film. We most definitely laugh at her distress, or at least remove ourselves, like the Ghostbusters, from her personal distress in order to focus on the cause (the ghost) rather than the effect (“some poor librarian”).

I also enjoyed putting together the different facial expressions of Alice the librarian. Her facial range is impressive!

The many facial expressions from Alice the librarian in Ghostbusters (1984)
The many facial expressions from Alice the librarian in Ghostbusters (1984)

Interestingly, the Librarian Ghost (Ruth Oliver) also fulfills the Spinster Librarian role:

  • Conservative, buttoned-up clothing? Check.
  • Hair in a bun? Check.
  • Rule-monger? CHECK. (Evidenced by her shushing.)
  • Unfriendly/stern demeanor? DOUBLE CHECK. (She suffers no fools, y’all.)
The varied facial expressions of the library ghost in Ghostbusters (1984)
The varied facial expressions of the library ghost in Ghostbusters (1984)

The library administrator, Roger Delacourt, is in his early 30s, a white male. He is an insensitive, nervy library bureaucrat, one who is more concerned about his precious reputation than about his librarian employee who got the shock of her life in the New York Public Library basement. His role fulfills the Anti-Social Librarian character type:

  • Conservative clothing
  • Poor social skills
  • Elitist—rates the library and its rules above the public
Little boy lost
Little boy lost

His job centers on protecting the library’s reputation. He seems totally oblivious that a poor librarian (Alice Drummond) was scared out of her wits by a ghost. He is concerned only with how people will regard the library, and by association, himself.

Hmmm… I think I should add him to either my Hall of Shame or Dishonorable Mention lists…

The role of research:

The combined scenes in the library wrap up by 12 minutes into the 105-minute film. We never go back to the New York Public Library — what happened to the Librarian Ghost?! — but the role of research still played a vital role in the film.

Even though the Ghostbusters lose their university funding because their “methods are sloppy” and their “conclusions are highly questionable” — thus providing the incentive to start the Ghostbusters business — the three scientists do highlight their scientific chops in a brief scene after Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) comes to report a demon named Zuul in her refrigerator.

Venkman:  There are some things we do, standard procedures in a case like this, which often brings us results.

Stantz:  I could go to the Hall of Records and check out the structural details in the building. Maybe the building itself has a history of psychic turbulence.

Spengler:  I could look for the name “Zuul” in the usual literature.

Stantz:  Spates Catalog.

Spengler:  Tobin’s Spirit Guide.

Dr. Spangler also references the book, The Roylance Guide to Secret Societies and Sects (also known as simply the Roylance Guide), in the film.

Side note:  Y’all know I looked up those titles, right? Although they were invented for the film, making Wikipedia’s List of Fictional Guidebooks, each title does play a role in subsequent Ghostbusters-related series and games. Each title — as well as the book Dr. Spengler wrote later on, Spengler’s Spirit Guide — is detailed in the Ghostbusters Wikia site. See here for the entry on Tobin’s Spirit Guide, here for the entry on Spates Catalog, and here for the entry on the Roylance Guide. Also, Ghostbusters: Tobin’s Spirit Guide was published last year, as a guide for the original movies, as well as the “expanded Ghostbusters universe, delving into supernatural phenomena from the comics, animated shows, video games, and other aspects of the franchise.”

An hour and 10 minutes into the film, Stantz pulls out the building plans — in a jail cell, as you do — and reveals that “the whole building… was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence…. Spook Central.

Their research pays off! 😀

Need more Ghostbusters?

Alice, the one who got her “socks scared off” in the film, is also featured in the music video for the Oscar-nominated title song by Ray Parker, Jr.

Ray Parker Jr. – Ghostbusters” video uploaded by RayParkerJuniorVEVO is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

For those who would like to read more of those bits and pieces I’ve written previously about Ghostbusters:

Do you vividly recall the film’s opening scenes in the library? I have to admit that I had forgotten that the two scenes in the library were on either side of the scene in the Paranormal Studies office. I had melded the two library scenes together in my mind.

Have you revisited the original Ghostbusters lately? Or seen the recent remake? Please leave a comment and share! 🙂

Sources used:

‘Finding’ a reel librarian

This might just be the only time a film director has also played a reel librarian!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog — thank you! — you know that the idea for this blog all started with my undergraduate thesis years ago. And in this post, “It all started with a big list,” I list the films included in that thesis. Finding Forrester (2000) was one of those films, and although I’ve mentioned it here in the “Is reading a spectator sport? Librarians in sports movies” post, I have not analyzed the film yet on the blog. Correcting that oversight now…

Here’s what I wrote about the film in my thesis:

In Finding Forrester (2000), Sophia Wu only remains on screen only long enough to inform the main character that all William Forrester’s books are checked out, but her part is notable for the fact that she is Asian.

But let’s go a little bit deeper, shall we?

This was director Gus Van Sant’s second film released after 1997’s Good Will Hunting, and Finding Forrester (2000) enjoyed solid, if not spectacular, reviews and box office at the time of its release. It’s a film I’ve rewatched a few times, and it holds up well. Rob Brown co-stars as Jamal Wallace, a young African-American teenager who has skill in both academics and athletics. He strikes up a mentoring friendship with the neighborhood recluse, played by Sean Connery, who turns out to be the title character, William Forrester. Forrester is an author (and recluse) famous for having written only one book, Avalon Landing, which won the Pulitzer Prize and became an instant American classic. The fictitious character of Forrester is based on J.D. Salinger and his classic book, Catcher in the Rye.

I personally like the film for its message — I’m married to a writer, and it’s one of his favorite movies about writing! — and for how Rob Brown’s style matches up well with the director’s style. There is a stillness in his delivery — his eyes are always watching, always observing — but you can tell there is so much happening beneath the surface. Even more impressive given that this was Rob Brown’s acting debut!

Almost exactly an hour into the film, Jamal jokes with Forrester about the neighborhood changing.

Jamal:  Go ahead. I want to hear about the neighborhood, back when people were still reading your book.

Forrester [choking on his drink]:  What did you say?

Jamal:  Nothing.

Forrester:  No. you said, ‘back when people were still reading my book.’ Didn’t you?

Next stop:  The library! More specifically, the New York Public Library and a close-up of its online card catalog and its copies of Avalon Landing.

Card catalog closeup in Finding Forrester
Card catalog closeup in Finding Forrester

Side note:  This looks like a pretty typical card catalog screen, especially for that time period. But what is UP with those janky call numbers? D-107424, D-109478, D-783719, etc. Those do not look like any call numbers I’ve ever come across — especially not for a fiction book. They look more like accession numbers to me, which are automatically assigned numbers to items as they are entered into a system. (Archives collections are the only collections I’m aware of that sometimes shelve items by accession numbers. A public library would have a more generic call number for a work of fiction, something like FIC FOR, for “Fiction – Forrester”)

And YES, I looked up the current New York Public Library online card catalog. Y’all knew I was going to do that, right? 😉 I did a title search for Catcher in the Rye, which came up with 63 items, 49 of which are currently available. And the call number is the logical “CLASSICS FIC S.”

NYPL Library catalog search for Catcher in the Rye
NYPL Library catalog search for Catcher in the Rye

Back to the scene… we hear the voice of the reel librarian (Sophia Wu, as Librarian) narrating her title search for Avalon Landing:

Librarian:  We have 24 copies. But I’m sorry, they’re all checked out.

Jamal:  Ok. Well, thank you anyway.

Reel librarians in Finding Forrester
Reel librarians in Finding Forrester

Jamal then walks away, and when he returns to Forrester’s apartment, Forrester is reading a tabloid and sarcastically calls out behind him, “Any luck? Did you get on the waiting list?” 😉

By the way, the librarian did not offer to put Jamal on the waiting list, or offer Interlibrary Loan (ILL), a common library service to request items from other libraries. Tsk, tsk.

In my original notes after watching the film for my thesis, I noted the following:

Initial notes on Finding Forrester
Initial notes on Finding Forrester

(In case you can’t read my terrible handwriting, that reads:  “younger white male sitting beside her, typing on a computer, blue shirt, dark sweater vest”)

The trivia section on IMDb.com reveals that the film’s director, Gus Van Sant, is that “younger white male sitting beside her,” — he made a cameo as the library assistant in this scene! This might just be the only time a film director has also played a reel librarian! 😀

Gus Van San's reel librarian cameo in Finding Forrester
Gus Van San’s reel librarian cameo in Finding Forrester

The library scene lasts only a few seconds, so this definitely lands in the Class IV category. Sophia Wu fulfills the Information Provider role, as she not only helps reinforce the library setting, but also provides the information that the book is still popular and relevant and credible — and by extension, William Forrester. He then becomes more relevant and credible to Jamal, thus solidifying and deepening their friendship.

This part is also notable for bringing a little diversity to the world of reel librarians, as she is Asian (or Asian-American). This makes sense, as Finding Forrester (2000) is a film filled with racial — as well as socioeconomic — diversity. This role is one of only three Asian/Asian-American reel librarians I have come across so far.

If you’d like to see more examples of reel librarian diversity, see my “Reader Q and A” post which answers the reader question, “How many movies are there with librarians of color?

Toward the end of the film, Jamal pens a private letter to William Forrester. His choice of sanctuary? The New York Public Library, of course. 😉

Screenshot from Finding Forrester
New York Public Library as sanctuary

And who do we spy in the background with a book cart? Another (anonymous) reel librarian!

Screenshot from Finding Forrester
Book cart? It must be a reel librarian!
Screenshot from Finding Forrester
NYPL stationary

Until next week…


Sources used:


  • Finding Forrester. Dir. Gus Van Sant. Perf. Sean Connery, Rob Brown, F. Murray Abraham. Columbia, 2000.
  • Trivia.” Finding Forrester (2010), IMDb.com

‘South Street’ librarian

Earliest film I have come across so far to feature an African-American reel librarian

The 1953 film noir minor classic, Pickup on South Street, stars Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, and Thelma Ritter. It includes a brief library scene that combines microfilm, a pickpocket, and the first African-American librarian portrayal on film — all in less than a minute!

A well-known pickpocket, Skip McCoy (Widmark), picks the wrong purse one day on the subway, accidentally stealing a roll of microfilm a lady (Peters) was on her way to deliver. As you do. This leads to a clash between the police and a Communist gang — OF COURSE — while Skip schemes amongst all the chaos.

Skip discovers the microfilm in his stash and has the idea to visit the public library in order to get a close look at the microfilm. Very clever! About 25 minutes in, he skips (har har) up the stairs to the New York Public Library, where we get a shot of a sign that reads, “Newspapers on Microfilm — Apply Here.”

Screenshot from Pickup on South Street
Microfilm sign

The camera then pans over two white gentlemen behind a library counter, both in white shirts and ties. The older gentleman is flipping through a book with a male patron, as seen above. Skip moves down the counter to a African-American male, also outfitted in the standard white shirt and tie.

Screenshot from Pickup on South Street
First African-American librarian sighting in film — 1953!

Microfilm Library Clerk:  May I help you?

Skip:  Yes. I’d like to see a copy of the New York Times, January 5, 1947.

Microfilm Library Clerk [hands him a card and pencil]:  Fill this out, please.

The microfilm library clerk, played by Jaye Loft-Lyn, is portrayed as friendly and competent, a classic Information Provider. No fuss, no muss. The scene lasts only seconds, ending up in the Class IV category. Although the length of the scene is short, it is significant, as I mentioned before, in that it is the earliest film I have come across so far to feature an African-American reel librarian. Too bad the role is uncredited.

The next scene cuts to Skip rolling the stolen microfilm onto the library microfilm reader, looking TOTALLY nonchalant and unsuspicious while doing so.

Screenshot from Pickup on South Street
Looking oh-so-innocent

Although the public machine is used for illicit reasons, Skip did end up a satisfied library patron! 😉

I also watched the remake of Pickup on South Street (1953) — I am NOTHING if not thorough, and it’s all for you, dear readers!  —  a tedious 1967 affair called The Cape Town Affair, which changed the locale from New York to Cape Town, South Africa, and starred James Brolin as pickpocket Skip McCoy. Instead of going to a local library, Skip goes to a fellow thief (one who has ripped off a camera store) to view the microfilm. A decidedly inferior remake in every way, including in its decision to nix the opportunity of showcasing a library onscreen.


Sources used:


  • Pickup on South Street. Dir. Samuel Fuller. Perf. Richard Widmark, Jean Peters, Richard Kiley, Thelma Ritter. 20th Century Fox, 1953.

‘Confessions’ of a reel librarian

The (uncredited) reel librarian only gets an opportunity to point

I was looking forward to watching the 1939 film Confessions of a Nazi Spy, which won the National Board of Review Best Film Award the year it was released. It stars Edward G. Robinson as a G-Man, and its plotline about spies and intrigue is based on a true story of a Nazi spy trial in 1938. Too bad this WWII propaganda film is so heavy-handed that my brain felt like it had been pounded with a not-so-subtle sledgehammer as the end credits rolled.

Confessions of a Nazi Spy trailer screenshot
Confessions of a Nazi Spy trailer screenshot

It was a controversial film, as it was the first major Hollywood production to have the word “Nazi” in the title, while also promoting American participation in World War II. The irony that the film about the bad effects of Nazi propaganda is itself a propaganda film is lost amidst its leaden style. It could also have used a lot more Robinson, as well, as his role turns out to be a supporting one.

The structure of the film is based around the narration of a radio broadcaster, seen only in silhouette. As narrated by voice actor John Deering, this structure attempts to give credence to the newspaper accounts by Leon G. Turrou the film is based on. However, both the voice and writing style are so over-the-top that it actually drags down the plot.

But no rest for the weary — on to the reel librarian! In a very brief scene about seven minutes into the film, one of the Nazi spies, Schneider (Francis Lederer), goes to the New York Public Library.

Confessions of a Nazi Spy' screenshot
New York Public Library

The tone-deaf narrator informs us that, “During the month of March, 1937, a young man appeared several times at the New York public library and referred to a copy of the book entitled German Espionage in the Last War.”

[FYI, I couldn’t find a record of a book with that title in WorldCat, the most comprehensive listing of library collections worldwide. And yes, I didn’t think twice about looking that up just to check.]

'Confessions of a Nazi Spy' screenshot
I am skilled at pointing

Instead of a camera angle featuring the back of the librarians’ head (see my post on 1933’s The Good Companions for this common camera trick introducing reel librarians), we get a wide angle of the entrance to the library’s periodicals room. This side view reveals a reference desk to the left of the entrance, outfitted with standard library props of a desk lamp and card file, and a tall, inset bookcase is visible just to the left of the desk. The reel librarian seated at the reference desk looks quite young and conservatively dressed in a dark suit and tie.

The (uncredited) reel librarian only gets an opportunity to point, as the narrator keeps speaking, “Describing himself falsely as an ex-officer in the United States Air Corp with access to military and aviation secrets, Schneider offers his services as a Nazi spy […]. “

The wide camera angle follows Schneider as he walks across the room, and we see more of the periodicals room, complete with leather chairs and long tables.

'Confessions of a Nazi Spy' screenshot
A peek at the periodicals

The newspaper that Schneider writes to is the Völkischer Beobachter, and a closeup of this title ends the brief library scene. OF COURSE I looked this title up — and indeed, it was a real newspaper! Originally founded in 1887 as a four-page Munich weekly, the Münchner Beobachter, it became the public face of the Nazi Party from the early 1920s through the fall of the Third Reich in 1945. The title translates to “People’s Observer” in English.

'Confessions of a Nazi Spy' screenshot
Newspaper research

Even though the library scene was early in the film, I did watch the entire 104 minutes (oy) plus the trailer that was included in the DVD. But there were no more mentions of the library, or how Schneider deceived the librarians of his identity. The film winds up in the Class IV category, the uncredited reel librarian pointing his way to an Information Provider role.

And below is the film’s trailer, for those interested in the “5 most shocking words ever hurled from the screen”! 😉

Confessions of a Nazi Spy (trailer) 1939” video uploaded by Passthejointplease is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Sources used:


Who you gonna call? Not the librarians in ‘Ghostbusters’ (1984)

That’s right, don’t call the librarians!

Of course, I had to revisit Ghostbusters (1984) during the Halloween season. Such a memorable opening scene in the New York Public Library! We start off with a supernatural being who “scared the socks off some poor librarian,” Alice Drummond effectively playing the freaked-out librarian. John Rothman plays the insensitive library manager, which I go into more detail here.

The Library Ghost (played by Ruth Oliver) shows every indication of being a librarian, to her bun hairstyle to her conservative, high-collared dress to the book in her hands.

Librarian ghost in Ghostbusters
Librarian ghost in Ghostbusters

Undoubtedly a former librarian spirit who’s not too happy at being disturbed:

Library ghost from Ghostbusters (1984)
Can’t a girl read in peace anymore?!

The most frightening close-up in this scene for me personally? The ectoplasm all over the card catalog:

Screenshot from Ghostbusters
Ewwwwwwwwwww

And worse, Bill Murray’s Dr. Peter Venkman shows no respect for the books, wiping ectoplasmic residue goop all over the volumes closest to him. Boo!

Check out the library opening scene here:

library ghost” video uploaded by JinxHalloween is licensed under a Standard YouTube license

Apparently, the Library Ghost plays a major role in the Ghostbusters video game (!), where we learn her real name — Dr. Eleanor Twitty, a former Head Librarian of the NYPL — and the events leading to her untimely death (and subsequent hauntings).

Also, did you know the NYPL has an extensive collection of materials on the occult and parapsychology? Click here for their subject guide on the Occult Sciences. Check it out… if you dare! 😉


Sources used:


%d bloggers like this: