Libraries in pop culture: Rupert Giles

No discussion of libraries and librarians in pop culture would be complete without mention of Rupert Giles, a character (played by Anthony Stewart Head) in the US television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Giles enters the series as Buffy’s Watcher, a mentor and father figure. His day job is as the librarian at Sunnydale High School – the collection of which seems to focus more on ancient demonology and weaponry than it does high school texts. He is knowledgeable but stuffy, playing on both librarian and British stereotypes. As the series develops his character expands to have a notorious past, and he’s as adept at fighting demons as he is at researching.

The character of Giles was embraced by the library profession in the US, being used as the cover image for ALA’s American Libraries in 1999. While some felt that the popularity of the series and character could benefit our profession, others bemoaned Giles’ conservatism, and the fact that he seemed uninterested in actually encouraging students to use the school library.

You can also find a collection of library-related quotes from the TV series here.

Special mention must go to my personal favourite fictional library, from the spin off series Angel. Evil law firm Wolfram & Hart has an infinite library, represented by a small series of enchanted books from which any material in the library can be summoned. It sounds like the world’s best search engine, although one assumes that mystical metadata is just as important as the non-mystical kind.

Posted in Discussion topics, Round 2015A and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. As an educator, I’ve encountered a few school librarians in my time. Giles would be far from the only librarian who seems to discourage students from using his resources. That said, Giles develops strong relationships with his frequent users – even if that is a convenient plot point.

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