“Let’s have a campaign…every child should obtain a library card and use it”.
These words were said in 1987 by then-Secretary of Education William Bennett. The American Library Association did just that and designated September as Library Card Sign-Up Month. It is a national celebration of the importance a library card can have on a child’s education and promoting literacy.
More recently, the American Library Association has formed a roundtable to bring together librarians and library workers with a passion for comics and graphic novels to spotlight their benefits. In their honor, we'd like to celebrate comics and graphic novels that feature library professionals. These fictional librarians are quite special, from helping teens find books on ancient rituals to being the librarian in charge of every book that has ever been imagined. In no particular order, here are five of the best librarians in comics.
Rupert Giles is the librarian of Sunnydale Highschool, though his real job is to train The Slayer to defend earth from supernatural enemies. A bit of a technophobe, a bit of a father figure to the teens he works with, there’s no librarian we’d rather know in the fight against evil. I’m fairly certain we do not have the large handbook for demon-slaying, Vampyre, in our library system, but maybe I haven’t looked closely enough in the 133s of the non-fiction section.
Lucien is the librarian for Dream’s manor, or as it is known on earth, Ghost Castle. Quite a peculiar library, it is filled with all manner of volumes that were never written. As he likes to put it, “Every unspoken sonnet, every unfinished opus. Even those titles retconned by martyr…” Our librarians can’t help you find “sorceress scrolls” but they can help you in your quest to make your dream a reality.
Barbara Gordon, also known as the superhero Bat Girl, was once a librarian for Gotham City. Holding her doctorate in library science, she was the head of the Gotham City library and a symbol of the women’s empowerment movement of the 1960s. Her modern appearance has involved her being paralyzed (and eventually recovered) and working as the figure known as The Oracle, using her immense intellect and information searching skills to help fight crime and keep the city safe. Vigilante justice and crime-fighting might not be legal, but visit our website for a host of legal resources (please disregard if you are The Joker).
The Library Team, as featured in the manga Library War, is a task force fighting against the censorship of materials kept in libraries. The task force is filled with library clerks as well as seasoned librarians, Iku Kasahara being the main character and working her way up from being a clerk. The libraries in this tale have passed the Library Freedom Act, which contains the statement, “Libraries have the freedom to acquire their collections. Libraries have the freedom to circulate materials in their collections. Libraries guarantee the privacy of their patrons. Libraries oppose any type of censorship. When libraries are imperiled, librarians will join together to secure their freedom.”
Last and certainly not least is Celeste Walden, a librarian who loses her job in a public library and takes up an archival position at the haunted Logan Museum in the graphic novel Archival Quality. Her job entails scanning old photos and antique medical documents, mostly at night because she lives in a special apartment above the museum. To be honest, I’d love to live in an apartment above a library, but I’m sure there’s plenty of reasons that can’t happen…not to mention if there’s a ghost floating around like the one Celeste meets—I’m not sure how I’d get by. Celeste deals a lot with her mental health and learning the sometimes disturbing history of psychological medicine. If you need a wellness check, the library offers many mindfulness and relaxation programs. Look at your local branch to see what programs they offer.
Take a picture with your library card and hashtag it with #GetLibraryCarded to celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month, and thank the caped crusaders that run your local branch!