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Marian the Librarian

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 2 months ago

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In 1962 a film version of the popular 1957 Broadway Musical "The Music Man" was released by Warner Brother's Pictures. The story is set in 1912 and centers around a con man, Harold Hill, who moves from place to place conning naive small towns into giving him money for a town band for youth and making off with the money before the town realizes what has happened. When Hill reaches River City he meets his match in town librarian Marian Paroo, who sees right through his schemes while he begins to fall in love with her.


The character of Marian Paroo is responible for many enduring (and some would say irritating) stereotypes about librarains, particularly female librarians. She is described as a spinster, since most of the men find her intellect intimidating and at one point another character calls her "stuck up". She wears thick dark rimmed glasses, her hair up in a bun, and very conservative professional dress.


Shirley Jones as Marian the Librarian


She is constantly trying to keep her library quiet by saying "Shhhhhh!" and putting her finger to her lips. At one point, Hill attempts to woo Marian by singing "Marian the Librarian", in which he teases her for her obession with quiet in her libraray:


Madam Librarian

What can I do, my dear, to catch your ear

I love you madly, madly Madam Librarian...Marian

Heaven help us if the library caught on fire

And the Volunteer Hose Brigademen

Had to whisper the news to Marian...Madam Librarian!

What can I say, my dear, to make it clear

I need you badly, badly, Madam Librarian...Marian

If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it

I could lie on your floor

'Till my body had turned to carrion....Madam Librarian.

Now in the moonlight, a man could sing it

In the moonlight

And a fellow would know that his darling

Had heard ev'ry word of his song

With the moonlight helping along.

But when I try in here to tell you, dear

I love you madly, madly, Madam Librarian...Marian

It's a long lost cause I can never win

For the civilized world accepts as unforgivable sin

Any talking out loud with any librarian

Such as Marian.....Madam Librarian.


The idea of the shhh-ing spinster librarian with horn-rimmed glasses and a bun has endured the test of time and become commonplace in popular culture. It is now possible to purchase many products such as coffee cups, stationary, magnets, and t-shirts with Marian-esque images of librarians. One of the more humorous products to cash in on this stereotype is the Librarian Action Figure (with Amazing push button Shushing Action):




While usually viewed as a negative sterotype, it should be noted that Marian caused some trouble herself in the "Music Man." As one of the townswomen says "She advocates dirty books." Some of the women of the town complain in the song "Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little," that Marian has allowed Chaucer, Rabelais, and Balzac to be part of the library, despite protests of the moral citizens. While she is mainly remembered for shushing, one should also remember that she was also an intellectual freedom advocate.



For More Information on the Web

IMDB.com \"The Music Man\"

Plot Synopsis of \"The Music Man\" from theatrehistory.com

Song Lyrics from \"The Music Man\"

Images and Reviews from \"The Music Man\"

\"A Trip to the Library\"; or, The Curse of \"Marian the Librarian\": Images of Libraries and Librarians on the Musical Stage\"

The Librarian Action Figure


Back to 1960s

Back to Libraries and popular culture


This entry created by Sarah Stumpf

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