6 Movies with Libraries & Librarians to Watch Before Summer Ends

I haven’t given up on summer yet. School doesn’t start for another two weeks, so I’m going to wring every last drop of relaxation out of my remaining school-free days. I’m not sorry about it. 

So while we still can, let’s relax, people! Sit at home, do nothing, be free. To that end, here are six of my favorite movies featuring either libraries or librarians. Obviously there are MANY more movies that could be included on this list. In fact, there’s a fabulous blog that lists every English-speaking movie that includes a library or librarian for even a minute. 

So without further ado, here are my six favorite movies featuring libraries and/or librarians:

  1. The Mummy – 1999

Rachel Weisz as Evelyn was a major inspiration for little Melissa back in the day. She was smart, shy, and adventurous. Early on in the movie, Evie is trying to reshelve some books (relatable!) at the Museum of Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt (while wearing an adorable outfit of a khaki skirt, striped button up, tie, and scholarly glasses). In an attempt to save time by shelving a wayward book on an opposite shelf, Evie accidentally knocks over all the bookcases in her library. An adorable, but clumsy queen.

Later in the movie when she’s teamed up with Brendan Fraser’s character to defeat the evil mummy Imhotep, Evie gets *a little* inebriated and utters one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history:

“Look, I may not be an explorer, or an adventurer, or a treasure seeker, or a gun fighter…But I am proud of what I am. I …am a librarian!”

Feel free to use this line in future conversations.

The Mummy is available on Peacock

  1. The Shawshank Redemption – 1994 

OK, this one is slightly tangential, but I don’t care, I like this movie. The basic plot is that successful banker Andy Dufresne is sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his wife. Quietly intelligent and determined, Andy works as an assistant in the prison library and becomes friends with the prison librarian (RIP Brooks). He writes letters and petitions to get funding from book clubs, public libraries, and the government. In the end, he creates “the best prison library in New England.” This is a classic story of resistance against unfair and oppressive authority.

The Shawshank Redemption is available on HBO Max

  1. The Name of the Rose – 1986

This one is very fun, dark, and based off of Umberto Eco’s debut novel. At its core, it’s a Medieval murder mystery in a Benedictine Abbey. William of Baskerville (played by Sean Connery) investigates a string of suspicious monk deaths. Its plot is far too complicated to explain here but it involves a restricted book, a forbidden library, and secretive and withholding librarians. 

The Name of the Rose is available on HBO Max

  1. National Treasure – 2004

Like “The Mummy,” “National Treasure” is great, adventurous fun. Ben Gates (played by Nic Cage) sets off to steal the Declaration of Independence in order to protect it from the scurrilous crime boss Ian Howe (played by the fantastic Sean Bean). Along the way, Ben enlists the help of Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), the head archivist at the National Archives. In addition to some entertaining historical discussions about early American history, there are several scenes in archives buildings and considerations about the proper handling of archival documents. 

National Treasure is available on Disney+

  1. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – 1989

This one is even more tangential, but I care even less. The third installment of Indiana Jones, in my humble opinion, is the best of the trilogy (I will not acknowledge the 2008 iteration). This time around, Indiana Jones is in search of the Holy Grail, which will grant immortality to its drinker. His quest takes him to the Biblioteca di San Barnaba in Venice, Italy. Indiana Jones is in the library basement bashing the proverbial “X marks the spot” with a corden post in order to reveal the next clue to the Holy Grail. One would think this loud noise would attract attention, perhaps blow his cover? Not so! Fortuitously, every time Indy smashes the metal post, a librarian stamps a book, providing an audial cover. It’s hilarious.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is available on Hulu

  1. ExLibris: The New York Public Library – 2017 

“ExLibris” is a sprawling documentary that fully demonstrates how libraries are not merely houses for books. In its 3+ hour run, it explores the day-to-day life of people and services in the library. It features library programs such as lectures from Ta-Nehisi Coates, Patti Smith, and Elvis Costello, the growing e-book collection, its vast archive of undigitized materials, and so much more. It’ll reaffirm and reinvigorate your love of libraries. 

ExLibris: The New York Public Library is available for free at Documentary Mania

Alright, I’m off to watch some movies. See you when the school year starts!

Photo by Noom Peerapong on Unsplash

Melissa Grasso lives in Boston and is in her second year at Simmons University. She works as a library assistant where she specializes in course reserves, copy cataloging, and social media management. You can find her on Twitter @grassbro or LinkedIn.

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