There is no shortage of books featuring librarian protagonists. There are also lots of books about writers, readers, booksellers, and other jobs that may appeal to book readers. As we all know, in today’s world the role of a librarian has evolved to include IT and management skills, community outreach, and other tasks non-librarians may be surprised to hear. Libraries work best with a staff of various skills, backgrounds, and interests. So, what are some traits that can make for a great librarian? Looking at these book characters can help explain what other talents are valuable in this career path.
A Curious Mind
The foundation for many mystery stories is a non-detective main character whose natural curiosity leads them to investigate crimes. To be sure, there are lots of mystery series out there which feature librarian-sleuths. But these non-librarian characters have a level of curiosity and gumption that would translate well if they chose to change careers!
- Nancy Drew from the series by Carolyn B. Keene
This well-known sleuth, the heroine of more than one hundred books, continues to captivate readers with her relentless curiosity and commitment to solving mysteries. These qualities would be a great asset in helping find the perfect book for a patron at the reference desk, or tracking down a glitch in the library’s app from the IT department.
- Gethsemene Brown from the series by Alexia Gordon
In this cozy mystery series, Gethsemene is a musician who relocates to Ireland and winds up solving murders with the help of ghosts. Like Nancy, she’s unable to restrain her innate nosiness and determination to solve any problem she comes across. Gethsemene’s chill attitude towards ghosts bodes well for her being able to connect with patrons and coworkers of all kinds.
- Dayna Anderson from the series by Kellye Garrett
Dayna is a former actor-turned-PI in these L.A.-set mysteries. While she stumbles into her first crime by accident, her sleuth-y instincts and creative problem-solving help her land a job as a private investigator. Her varied background would bring new and different energy to any library system, while her devotion to solving mysteries while looking fabulous are sure to land her on the lists of best-dressed and most effective librarians!
A Commitment to Community
Libraries have always been a community gathering spot, a place for people to come without having to spend money, where you can sit and read or work all day (in non-pandemic times) outside of the home. Community librarians work to connect their community with services like free WiFi, computers, and programs in order to help build up skills and improve the quality of life in their community. These community-minded characters would likely find gratification in library work, so long as they don’t encounter too many cozy murders to solve.
- Sydney Green from When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
In this thriller, Sydney is devoted to her beloved Brooklyn neighborhood (which is being creepily gentrified in a potentially paranormal way that we won’t get into for the sake of this article). Sydney’s passion leads her to deep-dive into the history of her neighborhood, even developing a walking tour highlighting its Black history. This commitment to the neighborhood, combined with her skill at bringing history to life in community-focused programming, would make her a fantastic asset at any library.
- Alexa Monroe from The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
In this first in Guillory’s romance novel series, Alexa is working as chief of staff to the mayor. She is committed to finding a way to finance an art program for underprivileged youth and uses her connections within the mayor’s office, as well as her family and friends, to make this dream come true. Her commitment to giving back to the neighborhood, drawn from her close roots growing up there, are just the sort of passion and drive that can make for life-changing community librarians.
- Nikki Grewal from Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
Nikki, a law school dropout and bartender, takes a job teaching creative writing at a community center. While her motives for taking this job are vague, once she meets the group of Sikh widows attending the course, she finds herself increasingly drawn to helping them out. Nikki finds herself and her true purpose through working within her community, and honestly the idea of an erotic stories book club would likely do really well at a public library!
A Love of Books and Reading
While there are lots of different types of librarianship, including systems librarians who work behind-the-scenes on computers and library directors who supervise staff, a love of books and reading is one trait common among nearly all library school grads. Meaning that these characters, whose love of books and reading are major facets of their personalities, would fit right in as librarians!
- Mary Porter-Malcolm in By the Book by Amanda Sellet
The heroine of this YA romcom is devoted to classic literature…to the point that she begins offering her friends love advice drawn from books like Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. Her perfect ability to recommend books for every occasion, along with the ability to persuasively book talk to various types of people would make her excellent at working at the reference desk, presenting books to classes, and coming up with ingenious programming for teens. Perhaps once she ages into this career, it’s a path she would consider.
- Aggie Morton from the series by Marthe Jocelyn
These children’s books imagine an Agatha Christie–like tween who, along with her Hercule Poirot–like friend, wind up solving a variety of mysteries in a small town in the early 1900s. Aggie is mostly book-smart until she comes across a murder that needs solving. When the police don’t seem quite up to the task, she uses her stores of knowledge from reading mystery novels to help determine whodunnit. Like Mary, above, Aggie has just the right set of traits even in her childhood that could translate to a successful career as a librarian once she grows up.
- Anne Shirley from the series by L.M. Montgomery
Throughout the Anne of Green Gables series, we see Anne grow from a book-loving young girl to a book-loving teacher to a book-loving mother. With all due respect to her chosen career path, her passionate love of the written word, vivid imagination and creative ways to interpret books would have made her an extraordinarily compelling librarian, had she chosen that path.