Discworld Profile: The Librarian

The Librarian is one of Discworld’s more popular characters, having been turned into an orangutan thanks to a magical accident. He only ever says “ook” (or occasionally “eek”) and is partial to bananas, but don’t even think of calling him a monkey. (Orangutans are apes, remember?)

The Librarian works at the Unseen University, and though the wizards there have offered to change him back to a human, he has refused, finding the physical capabilities of an orangutan quite useful for navigating the shelves and wrestling recalcitrant magical tomes into place. No one seems to know who he was prior to becoming an orangutan, which is perhaps the way he wants it.

In addition to enforcing due dates and silence in the library, the Librarian has been known to aid the City Watch of Ankh-Morpork in times of crisis, and is the chief organist for the Unseen University. His most intriguing skill however, is his ability to travel through L-Space, the extra-dimensional space connecting all libraries. L-Space allows travel through both space and time, though the few librarians skilled enough to travel through L-Space are supposed to follow very strict rules about not changing the course of events. The Librarian doesn’t always follow the rules however, and in Small Gods he uses L-Space to save books from a burning library.

To my lasting disappointment there is no separate series of books featuring the Librarian; he merely appears here and there throughout the Discworld series. I have not read nearly enough of Terry Pratchett to give a complete summary of all his appearances, but I will touch on some highlights, and list all the books in which he has appeared to date.

The Light Fantastic
Equal Rites

Guards! Guards! – the Librarian assists the Ankh-Morpork Night Watch in saving the city from a dragon, though his main reason for doing so is to recover the book that was stolen in order to summon the dragon in the first place.

Moving Pictures

Small Gods – the Librarian uses L-Space to swoop into a burning library at the last moment and rescue some of the books. This has nothing much to do with the main plot of the book, but is a nice moment showing the Librarian’s great care for his collection and books in general.

Lords and Ladies
Men at Arms

Soul Music – the Librarian joins the Band With Rocks In as a piano player for a brief stint.

Interesting Times

The Last Continent – the Librarian is afflicted with a malady thanks to which he transforms into nearby objects whenever he sneezes. He can’t be cured without knowing his true name, which necessitates a search for Rincewind who might know it. Meanwhile, the books become angry without the Librarian’s care.

The Last Hero – the Librarian accidentally joins an expedition to stop the barbarians from blowing up the gods. In thanks the gods grant the Librarian some library supplies, though Blind Io does call the Librarian a monkey.

Night Watch
Going Postal

Where’s My Cow? – Children’s Winner of the Ankh-Morpork Librarian’s Award. Ook!


3 Responses to Discworld Profile: The Librarian

  1. Dana says:

    So when do they teach you to use L-Space, Ann? During your final semester of library school, or do you have to get your actual degree first?

  2. akdmyers says:

    Oh, using L-Space takes years of training. No silly piece of paper or class in library school can teach its proper use. Maybe someday I will be found worthy, but the users of L-Space are a select and elite few.

  3. Cole Piercy says:

    Thank you very much for you content. This really helps me rather a lot.

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