The Doctor Is In….the Library!

by Kate Kosturski, Senior Editor
previously published 12/27/13

The Doctor Is In….the Library!

kate_kosturski_photo2For the last INALJ blog post of 2013, I decided to embrace the merry of the season (though not that Elf on the Shelf thing), and switch to something lighthearted about libraries….

23 November 1963 was a momentous date for Britons, and for sci-fi fans. In the midst of mourning the loss of a President, we were introduced to a mad man with a box that was supposed to take the shape of its surroundings, but really just looked like a police box.  We met Cybermen, Daleks, Silurians…and a man who raced through time and space with friends by his side.   I am, of course, talking about Doctor Who, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last month and set a world record for most simultaneously viewed program (the 50th anniversary The Day of the Doctor,  was simulcast in almost 100 countries)!

Now, what does this have to do with libraries?   Perhaps you have spotted this quote on the bottom of many a librarian’s email signature:

You want weapons? We’re in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room’s the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!

Yes, that’s from Doctor Who, in particular, an episode titled “Tooth and Claw” that aired in 2006 (with a werewolf in a library, but I’m not telling you more than that, you’ll have to watch to see for yourself).

There was also an entire episode (well, a two-parter, actually) that was set in a library – “Silence In the Library” and “Forest of the Dead” featuring what could be the archivist’s worst nightmare, sentient beings living in the library that first appeared to be feeding on the books…but then on something else. (Again, I’m not telling you more that that – because, spoilers!)

Libraries also pop up in plot lines throughout the classic series (which aired from 1963 – 1989), the current revival (2005 – present) and some of the audio series and books published in between.  A search for the word “library” in the TARDIS Wiki provides 1,200 results; here are some of my favorites.

  • The Lost Library of Ukko was an episode of one of the Doctor Who spinoffs (featuring companion K-9), featuring an entire alien civilization stored in a library card.

  • Bernice Summerfeld and the Library of Books was a short story written in between the classic and current series, featuring a companion traveling to an underground library in Monte Cristo

  • The Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee) and his companion Jo Grant had an adventure in Oxford’s Bodleian library in the short story Losing Track of Time.

  • Companion Donna Noble once worked in the Hounslow library for a brief period of time, but enough time to memorize the entire Dewey Decimal system, which was revealed in The Doctor’s Daughter.

  • Finally, the entire series started with a library, as the First Doctor (William Hartnell) registered at the Shoreditch Library.

The love the Doctor has for libraries is mutual – they love him!   Many libraries around the US hosted their own Doctor Who events to mark the 50th anniversary.

Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) hosted their own event with cake, classic episode screenings, and the chance to make your own TARDIS.  (More photos on their Facebook page.)

Cherry Hill (NJ) Public Library had their own Time Lord Bash, with a screening of a classic 1970’s episode, prizes, more sweet treats (I especially love the Cassandra cookies) and costumes!

And Flower Mound (TX) Library featured this very adorable Dalek at their gathering.

Clearly, the love affair between Doctor Who and libraries has remained strong to its Golden Anniversary, and here’s to another 50 years of the TARDIS, the Cybermen, and adventures in space and time!

all photos provided by the author, used with permission or cited

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list INALJ.com (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ.com. INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website, KhanMoving.com, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 

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