Conan the Librarian

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Conan the Librarian is a perennial parody of Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian that has appeared in film, radio, television, comics, and fan fiction.

Monty Python[edit]

The first known reference to Conan the Librarian is on the comedy show Monty Python in a 1970's sketch featuring Michael Palin as a film director who specialised in non-violent films, such as Conan the Librarian and others.

You Can't Do That on Television[edit]

Conan the Librarian was featured on the comedy show You Can't Do That on Television in the 1982 episode "Heroes."

The Frantics[edit]

The Canadian comedy troupe The Frantics featured Conan the Librarian in the lead sketch of Frantic Times show #51, "Roman Numerals", broadcast on CBC Radio's Variety Tonight programme in February, 1983.[1] Conan was portrayed as a fierce warrior "roaming the wastelands between fiction and non-fiction", who slaughters a client for having a book overdue.

Mother Goose and Grimm[edit]

Probably the first printed Conan the Librarian reference is in a 1987 Mother Goose and Grimm comic. A pig returning a book to the "Overdue Books" section faces across the desk a scowling and muscle-bound librarian, in typical Conan the Barbarian dress, who from the placard on the desk we know is "Conan the Librarian."

Reading Rainbow[edit]

Conan the Librarian appears in a sketch on a 1986 episode ("Alistair in Outer Space") of the children's television series Reading Rainbow. Unlike the UHF Conan (see below), Conan the Librarian is helpful and shows someone how to get a library card.


Conan the Librarian also appears in a brief segment of the 1989 "Weird Al" Yankovic film UHF.[2] In the segment, the exaggeratedly muscular Guardian of the Shelves chastises—in German-accented English—a library patron who is unsuccessful in finding a book and not knowing the Dewey decimal system. He then hefts his enormous sword and slices another patron in two for returning a book overdue.

Hadley V. Baxendale fiction[edit]

In 1987, William Mitchell College of Law library staff created the character Conan the Librarian for a talent show performance, and subsequently wrote The Adventures of Conan the Librarian. This was followed by The Return of Conan the Librarian and Conan the Librarian on the Information Highway. The author of these stories is the fictitious "Hadley V. Baxendale" (a pun on the famous law case Hadley v. Baxendale).

This Conan is an ordinary librarian who lives in the mythical "Information Age".

Dr. Conan T Barbarian, BA (Cimmeria) PhD. (UCD). FTCD (Long Room Hub Associate Professor in Hyborian Studies and Tyrant Slaying)[edit]

In 2011 a faculty profile for Dr. Conan T Barbarian appeared on the Trinity College Dublin School of English website. In his academic history it was said that his PhD was entitled 'To Hear The Lamentation of Their Women: Constructions of Masculinity in Contemporary Zamoran Literature' and that he had earned his position by 'successfully decapitating his predecessor during a bloody battle which will long be remembered in legend and song' in 2006. The entry was removed by the College administration on the 14th of September 2011, after a day of being viewable on the website.[3][4]

Conan The Librarian, the OpenVMS HELP tool[edit]

Affectionately known as Conan the Librarian, and with all due acknowledgement to Weird Al Yankovic, this script makes OpenVMS Help and Text libraries accessible in the hypertext environment. It also provides a keyword search facility, both from a search dialog on relevant pages, and using a URL query string. Can be used in the WASD CGI, WASD CGI-plus, OSU and vanilla Common_Gateway_Interface environments.

Originally written by Mark G. Daniel year 1994, but even twenty years later this is the best way to present OpenVMS HELP content in HTML format.


The presence of the archetype is explained by Christine Williams by the fact that librarianship is a traditionally female occupation, far from traditional ideas of masculinity. She writes that male librarians will often use "Conan the Librarian" cartoons to assert their masculinity and reaffirm male hegemony.[5]

This explanation, however, fails to note that the archetype would still work even if the position in question was primarily male-dominated. For example, the field of accountancy. It's more likely the name is chosen as an easy pun on "Barbarian."

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ruth Kneale, You Don't Look Like a Librarian: Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age, Information Today: 2009, p 77
  3. ^ Hacker adds 'iconic' Conan the Barbarian to faculty of Irish college
  4. ^ Meet Trinity College's Newest Professor: Dr. Conan T. Barbarian
  5. ^ Christine L. Williams, Still a Man's World: Men Who Do "Women's Work". University of California Press: 1995, p123

External links[edit]