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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Dragons or Magicians?
The Portrayal of Librarians in Children's Books
In addition to providing enjoyment, children's books play an important role in teaching their readers about various aspects of the world in which they live. The books in this exhibit, selected from a collection of more than 125 children's books that deal with librarians and libraries, focus on the image of the librarian.

The image of the librarian has been of continuing concern to librarians for over 100 years. Much of that concern has focused on the stereotypical portrayal of the librarian as an unattractive, intimidating, little old lady with glasses, who wears her hair in a bun and who is always demanding silence.

The books in this exhibit have been selected for the ways in which they portray librarians. Some--perpetuating the typical stereotype--are dragons; others are magicians who reveal the world of books and reading; and still others are simply ordinary people. Often, a transformation takes place during the course of the book, or the librarian turns out to be quite different from what the children in the story originally expected. In every case, the relationship between the librarian and children is stressed. Almost always the authors and illustrators display a charming sense of humor.

These books are works of delight that help to introduce children to the wonderful world of books and reading. The books and other illustrative materials and objects in this exhibit are from the collection of Norman D. Stevens, who curated the exhibit.

Norman D. Stevens' 10 Favorite Children's Picture Books Featuring Libraries and/or Librarians

Dodd Center Gallery
Curator: Norman Stevens
Molesworth Institute
Image is of Giuseppe Arcimboldo's[1527-1593] portrayal of The Librarian that is represented in the Exhibit by a contemporary Venetian mask and an illustration in The Three Golden Keys.