Libraries at the Movies

Since libraries should be and are everywhere, it should be no surprise that they are featured in all sorts of movies. This is a list of a few notable movies that feature a library as a setting or library workers doing their jobs (for good or ill) in a way that is important to the story. Thanks to Jennifer Snoek-Brown at Reel Librarians for some of the suggestions here!

Compiled by:
Brandon R.
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ago

Rachel Weisz plays Hypatia, thought to be the last director of the famed Library of Alexandria. This kind of speculative historical drama features a complex portrayal the political and religious shifts of the time with a librarian/philosopher at the center of the drama.

American Animals
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Ame

Based on the true story of an elaborately planned heist of a priceless book from an university library in Kentucky. The dramatization also features interview clips with the actual thieves. Many scenes in the library have shots of offices with their blinds down because library employees were still working while the movie was filming!

The Breakfast Club
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Bre

High school detention on a Saturday! in the Library! All the detainees are different types but come to find they have more in common than expected. Maybe it has something to do with being in a library for most of the day?

Adult Audiovisual DVD - Col

Filmed in Columbus, Indiana, this slowly contemplative film features a lot of the city's great architectural works, including the Columbus Public Library where the main character works.

Desk Set
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Des

Head Librarian Katherine Hepburn wittily battles Spencer Tracy's attempt at infiltrating her library with a 'more efficient' computer and they, of course, fall in love in the process.

Doctor Strange

Scott Derrickson
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Doc

Yes, even the Marvel Cinematic Universe has librarians! This is the film where we are first introduced to Wong, librarian of Kamar-Taj. He later shows up in Infinity War to school Iron Man on the whole deal with infinity stones (and basically save the life of another Avenger). Note: Not all librarians can manipulate space and time (unless you count finding a book for you to get lost in).

Foul Play

Colin Higgins
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Fou

Goldie Hawn plays a shy but spunky San Francisco librarian who gets herself caught up in a murder plot with Chevy Chase's cop in this late '70s Hitchcock-influenced, rom-com mystery.

Ghostbusters (1984)
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Gho

Features an opening scene in the iconic New York Public Library Reading Room (though some shots in the stacks were filmed in Los Angeles Public Library as well). There's even a Librarian Ghost!

It's a Wonderful Life
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Its

Donna Reed is briefly seen as a spinster librarian in a nightmare her onscreen husband (Jimmy Stewart) must endure. Oh, the humanity! Not a Librarian!: “You’re not going to like it, George. She’s an old maid. She’s just about to close up the library!”

The Librarian Movie Trilogy
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Lib

Fun, family-friendly, intentionally cheesy TV-movies that echo Indiana Jones type films featuring a mild-mannered librarian who uses his booksmarts to become an adventure hero.

The Mummy (1999)
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Mum

Evie loves being a librarian (even when she's drunk) and basically saves all the others with her knowledge of Egyptology (even if the movie is a bit dated in its irony-filled stereotypes).

The Music Man
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Mus

Marian the Librarian! She uses her Iowan library smarts (and singing and dancing) to investigate into and root out a conman.

Party Girl

A personal '90s favorite where Parker Posey's character works at a library to work off bail money given to her by her librarian godmother and begins thinking about pursuing it as a career. This film is perhaps most notable for the meltdown scene where she snarkily yells at a library patron for putting a book in the wrong place!

The Public

Emilio Estevez
- Director
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Pub

Librarians stage a lock-in to help many of its patrons experiencing homelessness who have nowhere to sleep during the cold winter nights. Filmed at the downtown location of the Cincinnati Public Library.

The Shawshank Redemption
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Sha

Prison movies have a long history of featuring prison library workers (whether it's Escape from Alcatraz or Orange is the New Black). Here our protagonist Andy works as a library assistant, then takes it over and expands it; making it a central, positive location in the film for its characters.

Soylent Green
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Soy

In this environmental apocalypse film, set in a long off future of 2022, certain people are "books" of information. Edward G. Robinson, the 'police book', tells us about how books used to be made out of paper. Pshaw! At a point the "books" gather at the former public library (the "Supreme Exchange") and eventually reveal to the audience the shocking truth of what the film's title really means.

Storm Center
Adult Audiovisual DVD - Sto

Bette Davis plays a small-town librarian who is accused of being a Communist when she refuses to remove a controversial book from the shelves. Perhaps a retrospectively minor role for Davis, but not for librarians! Loosely based on the experiences of real-life Oklahoma librarian Ruth Winifred Brown.