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Scary Librarian

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Turn in your books on time or else.

"QUIET!!!! This is a LIBRARY!!"
Ms. Hushbaum, All That

Unsuspecting students will enter the library, hoping to talk to friends, goof off instead of working, sneak snacks or drinks in, and (possibly) study a little bit or even get a book. However, these kids will soon fall victim to...the Scary Librarian.

The Scary Librarian will freak out if you talk in the library, fail to return a book on time, or, God forbid, spill something on it or damage the binding. They'll shush you at the slightest noise, and occasionally will start screaming at non-compliant patrons. She is obsessed with all the books being in perfect order and alignment. She doesn't tolerate students napping in the study carrels. Students dread asking questions, as if she thinks you've asked a stupid question, she'll give you snark and attitude. If you make them mad, don't expect any help with your research paper.

The Scary Librarian can move like a cat, without making noise, and can appear from nowhere if you're up to trouble. She can hear a kid opening of a bag of Doritos from 100 feet away. Beware, as she confiscates contraband snacks or electronic games. Some play the role of Moral Guardian, and try to prevent kids from reading National Geographic magazines, books about how babies are made or books about the LGBT Community.

She tends to be older, with grey hair, often in a strictly-controlled hairstyle (like a hairbun), bifocal glasses on a neck lanyard and formal, severe clothing that was last in style in The '80s when she graduated from library college. Her lips are often pursed and she often has a sour, bitter expression.

Scary librarians can work in elementary and high school libraries, college and university libraries, public libraries and research archives.

Sometimes coincides with Magic Librarian or Evil Librarians. Compare Sadist Teacher, Badass Bookworm. Contrast Hot Librarian. See also Spooky Silent Library.


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    Card Games 
  • Hilde, the queen librarian in Girl Genius: The Works. She is depicted as a slightly older woman dressed in a tight blouse and a buckled skirt with her fair hair pulled up into a tied ponytail and wearing oval glasses. Looking out at the viewer, she is shown with a stern face entreating all to Shhh.

    Comic Books 
  • A 1970-era The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comic had Fat Freddy rushing off to the university to join in student revolution - which for him meant liberating 'f**k books' from the library. He encounters a seriously Scary librarian who sends him running off in full-tilt terror.
  • The Powerpuff Girls story "The Purple Pages Of Peril" (DC run, issue #60) had a beloved retiring librarian being replaced with an uptight and anal librarian. When kids stop coming to the library because of him, the guy turns into a purple-clad "superhero" and begins physically collecting things and placing them in alphabetical piles.

    Comic Strips 
  • Mentioned once in Bloom County... bearing an axe about the size of Milo. Actually a bit of a Running Gag: Blinky's Anxiety Closet occasionally reveals he still hadn't returned that overdue copy of Green Eggs and Ham... with the Ax-Crazy librarian showing up to note how many days overdue it is. Every revisit (into the Outland and Opus sequels) has the day count go up.
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin was once horrified at the thought of having not returned a library book on time, expecting the librarians to break his knees or something. After learning that he would simply receive a small fine, he noted to himself that he naturally expected the consequences to be more severe simply from the looks the librarians give him.

    Films — Animation 
  • The librarian in Monsters University has tentacles, can grow to an incredible height, and will throw anyone who annoys her out the window. Fortunately, she's quite slow and has poor eyesight.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • Akata Witch: Sugar Cream is the head librarian of one Magical Society community — which, because knowledge is power in that society, means she's both The Archmage and a justiciar with huge discretionary power, and the library in question is a profoundly magical Eldritch Location besides.
  • Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians - The second book has scary undead soul-stealing librarians.
  • Technically, Myne from Ascendance of a Bookworm might be considered an example of this trope since she was a professional librarian in her previous life and retains a strong interest in books in her current life. Her scary aspect comes into play when a fellow priest named Egmont deliberately vandalized the temple book collection that she had been placed in charge of which causes her to start ranting about the need to punish him in a Festival Of Blood "To strike fear into our enemies and encourage our allies!". Nobody doubts that she is serious and all regard it as scary. This is doubly intimidating because she is normally kind and peaceful. It is only after she has determined that no actual harm was done to the books themselves that she calms down and stops being homicidal.
  • In the seventh Captain Underpants book, the librarian is a cranky Moral Guardian who has banned almost all the books in the library, leaving only one book that can be read. The library itself has posters warning about the dangers of reading.
  • Philip K. Dick's Counter-Clock World has a really scary librarian, in a future where libraries don't store books but destroy them.
  • While generally friendly unless called a monkey, the Librarian of Unseen University in Discworld is a human wizard transformed into an orangutan (still a wizard by courtesy), who is noted to be very successful at his job, as a single display of his fangs ensures that books will be returned on time (and woe betide the student who returns them in damaged condition!) Being able to climb the shelves without a stepladder and sort and stack books with his feet doesn't exactly hurt. According to the Unseen University Diary, if you damage a book, you should immediately inform the Dean, who will arrange for you to be smuggled out of the building to start a new life under an assumed name on the other side of the continent. The Librarian isn't terribly keen on people reading books; he thinks they belong on shelves and reading them wears out the words.
  • "The Library Policeman" from Stephen King's Four Past Midnight has Ardelia Lortz, a more-different-than-most vampire with insectlike attributes who feeds on the terror of children. The titular Library Policeman is some kind of servant or familiar who takes a form resembling the man who molested the protagonist as a child.
    • King has another, more mundane, example with Ramona Norville, in "Big Driver", who deliberately sends the protagonist into a trap that gets her raped and nearly murdered by Ramona's son.
  • One of the Goosebumps books had a librarian who was a literal monster. Although, since it is revealed in the twist ending that everyone is a monster, and the librarian gets eaten by the main character's parents, this might be an inversion.
  • Mistress Krine, head librarian for the Royal Library in the Garrett, P.I. series, is equally dedicated to keeping Garrett from tapping the Library's books for information or junior librarian Linda Lee for a date.
  • Madame Pince, from the Harry Potter books. Being a witch, she doesn't even need to be in the same room as you — start drawing in the margins and the book will come alive and attack you. J. K. Rowling once said in an interview that the Hogwarts library had to have one of these since a nice, helpful librarian would resolve plots too quickly. She also apologized to all librarians for this portrayal.
    Madam Pince: WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? Chocolate in the library!! OUT, OUT, OUT!
  • Steven Piziks wrote two stories ("Hoard" and "A Quiet Knight's Reading") about a librarian who's actually a shapeshifted dragon (the books were originally her hoard). Thieves can expect to be eaten.
  • The How to Train Your Dragon series has the Hairy Scary Librarian who will (at the very least try to) kill anyone who enters the Meathead Public Library without permission. Due to vikings not being allowed to read books and therefore the library not being very public despite its name, that means anyone who isn't him. Did we mention he's also a Flashmaster?
  • Jacob Two-Two has ninja librarians. They're very personable, but will hunt you down if you have overdue books.
  • In the Joshua Dread series, Joshua and his friends are attacked by a creepy librarian who turns out to be a half-shark mutant. She was sent by the Gyfted & Talented organization to test if they were good enough for the program.
  • The children's book The Librarian From The Black Lagoon, which is part of a series. The kids think she's scary and does horrifying things, but in the end, it's subverted, when she's actually nice. All the books are that way.
  • Jorge of Burgos in The Name of the Rose, although not the official librarian, defends the Library with rather odd methods...
  • In the Old Kingdom series, the Librarians of the Clayr protect several examples of Sealed Evil in a Can that have been known to kill Librarians (who're almost all powerful mages, swordswomen, and seers), which they defend with swords. The head librarian's sword was called Binder. Lirael, chief protagonist of Lirael, Abhorsen, and Goldenhand, is a Second Assistant Librarian and learns a lot of her high-end magic working there, as well as the basics of swordsmanship.
    • The difference between mundane librarians and Clayr librarians leads to some miscommunication in Goldenhand when Nick, a Muggle from Ancelstierre with some somewhat strange powers owing to a combination of a case of Demonic Possession and a last-minute Charter blessing from the Disreputable Dog a.k.a. Kibeth, formerly one of the most powerful beings in the setting, who helped create the Charter and by this point, Lirael's boyfriend, assuming that the Great Library of the Clayr is like an ordinary library, assumes that the librarians there are like the stereotypical librarians he knew at school. Lirael is understandably put out, and Nick a) later recants his mistake, b) ironically, ends becoming a temporary part of the collection as a way to get him inside the Clayr's glacier.
  • Spectral Stalkers: The Library in Limbo's librarian is a fire-breathing, talking dragon.
  • In a Gene Wolfe story, a student who has stolen a great many books finds that the librarian has taken possession of his home. And the library is now closed until Monday morning.
  • The Worst Witch: although the librarian is unseen, Miss Hardbroom humiliates Mildred by sending her to the library, to look up how to restore her enemy Ethel to her natural form, after Mildred had turned her into a pig.
    Ethel was grunting loudly, and clearly doing it on purpose. Everyone in the library was most astonished to see the pig suddenly change into a furious-looking Ethel. "Now don't be angry, Ethel," said Mildred. "Remember: silence in the library at all times."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played for Laughs in All That with Ms. Hushbaum, better known as the Loud Librarian. The recurring joke in every sketch is that, if a student makes the tiniest bit of noise, she'll go on screaming rants telling them to stop.
  • The episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark? called "The Tale of the Quiet Librarian," about a ghost who kidnaps children and steals their voices.
  • Dead Ringers had a parody of Hell's Kitchen called "Hell's Library", with Simon Schama as a foul-mouthed, overbearing and violent librarian putting trainees through their paces.
  • Married... with Children has a psychotic librarian who harassed Al Bundy when he was a young child, for literally any reason she could think of. She was also known for putting massive amounts of sugar in her coffee. The episode revolves around Al finding The Little Engine That Could being overdue for 30 years and having to go back, but no problem... after all it's been thirty years she couldn't possibly still... *Cue scene of Al entering and seeing a sugar bowl on the front desk*
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus invoked this trope in a sketch where a gorilla who is really a man in a gorilla suit is brought to a job interview for the position of chief librarian. The library executives are oddly excited by the idea of having a wild beast for a librarian.
    Executive (Chapman): "I love seeing the customers come in to complain about some book being damaged and ask to see the chief librarian, and then, you should see their faces when the proud beast leaps from his tiny office, snatches the book from their hands and sinks his fangs into their soft...*Beat*
  • In a library, Mr. Bean is looking at a priceless manuscript while wearing White Gloves, which he accidentally scribbles in (by sneezing and blowing his tracing paper away), and then damages even more (with correction fluid, and a Stanley knife) as he tries to hide his actions. Although the librarian is a demure gentleman, Mr Bean tries to look nonchalant every time the librarian passes.
  • Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide has a crazy librarian. If students claimed they returned books but they aren't in the slots, she screeches "Not ACCORDI-ON to me!" While playing the accordion awfully.
  • Done to the extreme on Parks and Recreation where the Pawnee library department is considered by the Parks and Rec department to be actually EVIL. From the Ron and Tammy episode:
    Leslie Knope: Pawnee's library department is the most diabolical, ruthless bunch of bureaucrats I've ever seen. They're like a biker gang. Only instead of shotguns and crystal meth, they use political savvy and shushing.
    • Tammy 2, the Head of the Library Department, combines this with Hot Librarian. She's good-looking (played by Megan Mullaly) but completely psycho. She was married to Ron Swanson—and turned him into a sex freak. She also stalked him for a time. And she is not averse to using the library as a tool of power (e.g. falsely placing embarrassing books on her enemies' checkout records).
      Ron Swanson: That bitch of an ex-wife is working for the library now, that is perfect. The worst person in the world, working in the worst place in the world.
  • Pee-Wee Herman once got to role-play as one of these in a later episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse.
  • Series two of Psychoville introduces Jeremy, a librarian who becomes obsessed with recovering a book that a woman has failed to return on time. He resorts to stalking her, calling her at all hours, breaking into her house, and threatening her young daughter - all with the aid of, or possibly under threat from, a hallucination of a horrifying creature called the Silent Singer.
  • The aforementioned Conan the Librarian also appears in an episode of Reading Rainbow, albeit as a more benevolent interpretation thereof.
  • Mr. Bookman, the library cop from Seinfeld, treats Jerry like a murder suspect for having a book a couple of decades overdue.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Bendy in Nightmare Run: Dewey in his promotional art has been stated to be a librarian. His method of punishing those who misbehave in the library involves death. And Bendy misbehaved.
  • Orloc Dracul from Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is a vampire librarian who will permit Miriam to borrow certain books from him, but warns her that she must always return what she borrows. If she tries to take a certain rare tome into The Very Definitely Final Dungeon, he will attack her and become one of the hardest Superbosses in the game.
  • In Criminal Case: Grimsborough, Case #26 features a librarian who's into voodoo and manages to terrify Jones even before he finds that out about her.
  • In Dragon Age, Finn may not be an official librarian, but could certainly be considered one given the amount of time he spends in the Circle library. The "scary" part is demonstrated during his first meeting with the Warden, where without any fear at all, he walks up to the heavily armed stranger in the Tower and proceeds to yell at them for mishandling their most valuable antique books.
  • Echocalypse: Katch is a terrifying librarian. She once pursued a patron who took a magazine from the Forbidden City's Library, of which there were thousands of copies elsewhere, all the way to the Empire, on the other side of the continent, killed them, and took the magazine back. She also routinely cuts to ribbons anyone who tries to find the secrets in the library.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Apocrypha, the realm of Hermaeus Mora, the Daedric Prince of Knowledge, takes the form of an Eldritch, infinite Great Big Library of Everything, said to contain all knowledge in the form of tomes. Unlike the other Daedric Princes, who typically take humanoid forms when dealing with mortals, Mora prefers a truly Eldritch Abomination form of a mass of eyes, tentacles, and claws. While not an inherently malevolent entity, Mora has been known to commit unspeakable acts in the pursuit of knowledge.
    • Skyrim:
      • Urag gro-Shub of the College of Winterhold's Arcaneum, is an Orc mage who takes his job extremely seriously. Several of the other mages express their fear of him and warn the player to tread lightly.
      Urag gro-Shub: Disrupt my Arcanaeum, and I will have you torn apart by angry atronachs."
      • In the Dragonborn DLC, you actually get to visit Apocrypha. In addition to Hermaeus Mora himself, the realm is populated by Seekers, a Cthulhumanoid form of lesser Daedra in service to Mora. Seekers typically act as the guardians and caretakers of Apocrypha, especially over the tomes of forbidden knowledge within.
  • Genshin Impact: As shown in her first Story Quest, Lisa takes her job surprisingly seriously, even thro she otherwise likes to be lazy. She's been known to electrocute, with her Electro powers, anyone who faces her wrath... and those with overdue books are guaranteed to face her wrath. Razor, who views Lisa as a mentor, says in his voiceline about her that she's scary. She's also a Hot Librarian.
  • In the Official Fan Remake of King's Quest II the library is so crappy that aside from the Librarian being very cold and nasty, you can't take out books unless you're a member, and there are only two members, and they aren't allowing more, and even when you manage to borrow a card you can't even remove the books from the building, you have to read it from the front desk, and there aren't even any chairs.
  • Kingdom of Loathing parodies the concept with its "banshee librarian", a Shout-Out to Ghostbusters (1984).
  • Pamela Ibis supposedly fills this role in Mana Khemia: Alchemists of Al-Revis, but she's not terribly good at the job. Students are actually happy when a monster decides to take over. As for the "scary" part, keep in mind that she's a Cute Ghost Girl with a possessed teddy bear, an army of monster friends, some rather odd interests and a mastery of fake crying. All in all, it's a good thing she's on your team.
  • Metro 2033 is where we get our first glimpse of what an in-universe librarian looks like in the later levels. And it's not pretty...
  • In Might & Magic VI, the Wizard's Library is staffed by, well, wizards, and trying to go into the restricted area (even if you pay for membership) starts a battle with them. (Of course, this is the case with every place in the game that has restricted areas.)
  • Patchouli Knowledge from the Touhou Project is a Magic Librarian who is usually mostly inoffensive, but try to steal any books from her library or to attack her friend/employer Remilia, and she will blast you out of the sky with her powerful elemental magic. She would be even more formidable if it weren't for her declining health preventing her from casting some of her most powerful spells.

    Web Animation 
  • In Happy Tree Friends, Flippy works as a librarian in the episode Random Acts of Silence. Said episode just happens to be the first (and so far, only) one where more than one character are afraid of him before he snaps.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, Cegorach, Monster Clown extraordinaire, is the librarian of the Black Library, to almost fatal results for Azhek Ahriman and his forces trying to invade the place. He does allow entrance to those he deems worth like the Custodes, but not before terrifying them to the point of trauma for no other reason but his own amusement.

    Web Comics 
  • SAIA's librarian in DMFA, although not shown, is implied to be rather scary. She was later revealed in this wallpaper. And now the mystery thickens with this cute version of her.
  • In an El Goonish Shive pinup, note  Amanda, in a Stripperiffic Hot Librarian outfit, shushes the POV character with a Shrink Ray, as an Empty Pile of Clothing sits in the foreground.
  • Questionable Content: Claire isn't exactly a frightening person, being a dorky woman with a penchant for puns. However, that doesn't stop the Cubetown rumor mill from turning her, through the power of Gossip Evolution, into a terrifying librarian who once shushed someone to death.
  • Marcus of The Silver Eye is a variation of this. He is scary, and he is a librarian. Sometimes he's scary while he's being a librarian, such as expressing his irritation at the young orphans who bother him when he's trying to read out loud (to himself) in peace. But he can be scary when he's not at work, too—Especially if Apen Shephard is involved.
  • Dewey Oak, the elderly librarian in Twilight's First Day, appears to be this from young Twilight's perspective. She mistakes his workshop, where he repairs and re-binds damaged books, for a "book torture chamber". Once the misunderstanding is cleared up, he turns out to just be a little gruff, but ultimately friendly.
  • Subverted in the webcomic Unshelved by making the librarian a young male slacker who responds to most inquiries with sarcasm. The rest of the cast has their own quirks as well.
  • In Wapsi Square, Phix is the sphinx that guards the great interdimensional Library, and she presents herself as pretty scary, though the trope is often subverted once you get to know her.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries subverts this. There is a ghost of a librarian, and Jughead has terrifying memories of her when he was little, making his time in the library miserable. First she snatches a book from him saying in a nasty tone "This isn't for children!" He reads a joke book which she starts nastily lecturing him, and she yells at him for playing on the large globe." The librarian ghost when revealed justifiably explains her reasons. She took the book from him because it was heavily damaged and didn't want it to fall apart, she lectured him about the joke book because he was laughing very loudly disrupting the other readers, and she stopped him from playing on the globe because it was dangerous. And she wasn't even acting nasty, Jughead's fear of her exaggerated the events in his mind, making her seem worse than she actually was.
  • The librarian in Arthur, Miss Turner, is a repeat victim of this stereotype to judge by the Imagine Spots she appears in. "Next time, don't make me use the crank!"
  • Wan Shi Tong, the owl-like knowledge spirit from the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Library." He's a nice enough guy if you're a true knowledge seeker, but any hint that you intend to use the knowledge found in his tomes to gain an advantage over others — even if those others are certifiably evil — is his Berserk Button, and he won't hesitate to trap you in the library forever for your troubles.
  • The Big City Greens episode "Quiet Please" has the family visit the library to teach Cricket about reading and have a run-in with a rather strict librarian, who has such good hearing she kicks out anyone who makes the slightest sound. To avoid facing her wrath, Tilly suggests they communicate with each other through sign language and charades. By the end of the episode, Bill ends up banned from every library worldwide, while Tilly remains the only Green who did not get in trouble.
  • Miss Dickens from the CarlĀ² episode "Carl's Techno-Jinx." She crash-tackles and handcuffs offenders, puts Carl's library card through a blender and drinks it, and C2 is convinced that she put a curse on him.
  • Count Spankulot from Codename: Kids Next Door may not actually be a librarian, but he does seem to work for them, seeing as he punishes children who have overdue books by hunting them down and spanking them. And by the way, he's a vampire, which definitely makes him scary.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: The old librarian from "Wrath of the Librarian", who casts a spell on the book Courage turns in late so that it turns whoever touches it (Eustace and Muriel, in this case) into the book's characters, and won't lift the curse until Courage pays the late fee.
  • Dexter's Laboratory dabbles in this with Dexter becoming a very scary librarian while assisting the actual librarian. This involved installing creepy robots, changing requested books for something more cerebral like paleobiology.
  • Kaeloo: One episode featured Kaeloo as a librarian. Kaeloo has the power of Hulking Out, so she threatens to beat up anyone who dares to make noise inside her library. She ends up setting half the books on fire.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Great Dime Chase!" we meet Miss Quackfaster, who in this continuity is Scrooge's archivist. She takes her job very seriously and dramatically; at one point she threatens Dewey and Webby with a huge sword for "disrespecting the archives."
  • Get Ace: The school's librarian is nicknamed "The Velmanator", who is very serious about silence in the library and returning overdue books on time. When she gets angry, she gains sharp teeth and crazy-looking eyes.
  • Hilda: Kaisa the librarian has shades of this, most explicitly when she reveals that she's memorized who's buried in which grave at which cemetery. Season 2 fleshes out this aspect of her by revealing that she's a witch.
  • Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil: Kick Buttowski once has to deal with a crazy librarian who insisted that every thing that went inside her library (book or not) is hers. He has to break into the library to get a book of his that was accidentally returned.
  • Mrs. Hatchett, from the Kim Possible episode "Overdue". Even after the book was returned, she warns Kim that she might not be so lucky next time.
  • Martin Mystery Martin has one at his university, who growled at him for messing with the books in one episode.
  • Moral Orel 's school librarian is a scary old woman whose hobbies include burning books and picketing in front of a cinema.
  • Subverted in The Owl House with Malphas the Master Librarian, who looks the part with his gargoyle like body and glowing yellow eyes, but his personality and campy voice are anything but scary. Amity even describes him as being a pretty nice guy so long as you're not breaking the library rules.
  • The librarian replaced by Miss Osborne in The Replacements episode "Quiet Riot", who fits every stereotype of the scary librarian.
  • Libro Shushman from Teamo Supremo, who becomes a fully-fledged supervillain.

    Real Life 
  • Professor Peter (of The Peter Principle fame) mentioned one librarian who loved her neatly ordered books so much that she spent most of her time preventing the students from reading them.


Video Example(s):


Librarian Mr. X

In the Real-Time Fandub version of Resident Evil 2, the hulking Mr. X is turned into an obsessed angry librarian chasing the heroes, because they all have overdue books.

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