Marian Paroo in “The Music Man” was one of the first pop culture librarians I remember seeing. At first glance, she seems like your stereotypical librarian – a fussy spinster, not fond of fun.
However, Marian the Librarian is actually a forward-thinking, no-nonsense woman worthy of admiration.
Early in the movie version, we see Marian (played by Shirley Jones) defending young Zaneeta’s right to read “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam” to Zaneeta’s mother, Eulalie Mackechnie Shinn, the wife of the mayor. Standing up to political pressure! Later on, Eulalie and the other town biddies sing, in the song “Pick-A-Little, Talk-A-Little,” that Marian “advocates dirty books” (Chaucer, Rabelais, and Balzac, shocking!). She’s definitely defending everybody’s First Amendment freedom to read what they want.
Marian is also, clearly, the smartest person in town. She’s the only person who sees through Professor Harold Hill and knows that he’s scamming the town. (She uses her superior librarian research skills to confirm this fact.)
She’s also well-rounded, being a piano teacher as well as a librarian, and she is a very caring individual to her mother and brother. And, she’s not content to “settle” – the reason she’s single is because she is waiting for the right man, somebody who can match her intellectually and treat her right. She’s not afraid of being alone, if the alternative is being with somebody who isn’t right for her!
By the way, Marian Paroo was based on a real librarian, Marian Seeley of Provo, Utah, who was a medical records librarian who worked with “The Music Man” writer Meredith Willson.
Check out “The Music Man” from Eckhart Public Library today, and see just how great Marian is!