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.


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.[1] Also, it's a silly play on words because "Librarian" sort of sounds like "Barbarian."


Monty Python's Flying Circus[edit]

Conan the Librarian appears in the comedy show Monty Python in a 1970s sketch[episode needed] featuring Michael Palin as a film director who specialises in non-violent films, such as Conan the Librarian and others.

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."

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.[2] Conan was portrayed as a fierce warrior "roaming the wastelands between fiction and non-fiction", who slaughters a client for having a book overdue.

Reading Rainbow[edit]

Conan the Librarian (voiced by Eric Bogosian) 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. This character was later the subject of a proposed television pilot.[3]


Conan the Librarian also appears in a brief segment of the 1989 "Weird Al" Yankovic film UHF.[4] Exaggeratedly muscular, he calls himself Guardian of the Shelves and speaks in Austrian-accented English patterned after Arnold Schwarzenegger's portrayal of Conan. He chastises a librarian for not knowing the Dewey Decimal System, and slices a patron in two for returning a book overdue.

Colin the Librarian[edit]

A variation of the character called "Colin the Librarian" was created by Rich Parsons and Tony Keaveny for their novel Colin the Librarian: The Chronicles of Ancient Threa - Volume 3 or Maybe 4 (London : Michael O'Mara, 1993). A different Colin the Librarian later appeared in the juvenile novel Colin the Librarian by Merv Lambert (Luton: Andrews UK Limited, 2012).

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[edit]

Full name: Dr. Conan T Barbarian, BA (Cimmeria) PhD. (UCD). FTCD (Long Room Hub Associate Professor in Hyborian Studies and Tyrant Slaying). 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.[5][6]

Conan The Librarian, the OpenVMS HELP tool[edit]

Mark Daniel wrote a script known as Conan the Librarian that 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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christine L. Williams, Still a Man's World: Men Who Do "Women's Work". University of California Press: 1995, p123
  2. ^
  3. ^ Lawler, Sylvia (February 16, 1992). "Bethlehem Writer Pens `Letters' From `northern Exposure' Town". The Morning Call. Retrieved August 23, 2014. 
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Hacker adds 'iconic' Conan the Barbarian to faculty of Irish college
  6. ^ Meet Trinity College's Newest Professor: Dr. Conan T. Barbarian
  7. ^ Winston, Alan (2002). OpenVMS with Apache, WASD, and OSU: The Nonstop Webserver. Elsevier. p. 330. ISBN 9780080513133. 

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