The Image of Librarians in Cinema, 1917–1999
From its earliest days to the present, the onscreen image of the librarian has remained largely the same. A silent 1921 film set the precedent for two female librarian characters: a dowdy spinster wears glasses and a bun hairstyle, and an attractive young woman is overworked and underpaid. Silent films, however, employed a variety of characteristics for librarians, showed them at work on many different tasks, and featured them in a range of dramatic, romantic, and comedic situations. The sound era (during which librarians appeared in more than 200 films) frequently exaggerated these characteristics and situations, strongly influencing the general image of librarians. This chronologically arranged work analyzes the stereotypical image of librarians, male and female, in primarily American and British motion pictures from the silent era to the 21st century. The work briefly describes each film, offering some critical commentary, and then examines its librarian, considering every aspect of the total character from socio-economic conditions and motivations for leaving or not leaving the library, to personal attributes (such as clothing, hair, and age) and entanglements with the opposite sex, to commonly used props, plot situations and lines (“Shush!”). The work comments on whether librarians and library work are depicted accurately and analyzes the development of the public’s image of a librarian. The accompanying filmography lists librarian characters and notes stereotypes such as buns and eyeglasses. With bibliography and index.
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actors actress appears Alicia Allie asks assist attractive Betty Lou Birth blonde blouse brunette bun at nape bun hairstyle Charlie children’s cited collar comedy Connie Crail dark di›erent displays Doris dress e›ect e›ort Ellen Elsie Emily eyeglasses film film’s filmgoers filmmakers finger waves full bang Gentlemen Are Born girl Gloria Helen image of librarians informs Jake John John’s Judy Katie Kotzebue ladder leaves the library library scene library’s look Louise Lucy Lynn male librarian Marple Mary McByrne Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Miss motion pictures murder Neil Nick o›ers o‡ce o‡cer occupational tasks on-screen Paramount Pictures patron Peter police portrays public library reading reel librarians released remarks Republic Pictures responds romantic shush silent film stars stereotypical image story Stringer student supporting roles Sylvia Technicolor Thelo TriStar Pictures Uncredited Universal Pictures visits visual characteristics walks Warner Bros wears eyeglasses Web of Evidence woman women young