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9 People You Might Not Know Were Librarians

Photos of Beverly Cleary, Madeleine L'Engle, Jorge Luis Borges, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Audre Lorde, and Charles Dodgson

For centuries, librarians have served as keepers of knowledge, helping people access the information they need to learn and create. Some of history’s greatest thinkers also served as librarians themselves, from award-winning authors to the inventor of calculus.

Here are a few famous people you might not know were librarians:

Audre Lorde

The legendary poet, thinker, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde trained as a librarian in the early 1960s. She worked at both Mount Vernon Public Library and Town School Library in New York City.

Beverly Cleary

Before becoming a full-time kids’ book author, Beverly Cleary worked as a children’s librarian in Yakima, WA. She also served as post librarian at the U.S. Army Hospital in Oakland, CA for five years.

Jorge Luis Borges

The renowned author Jorge Luis Borges had a background as a librarian and even served as director of the National Library of Argentina. Libraries and librarians frequently appear in his short stories and poems.

David Hume

The 18th-century English philosopher spent time as a librarian to the Edinburgh Faculty of Advocates; he used the law library’s extensive collections to write his six-volume bestseller The History of England.

Lewis Carroll

Charles Dodgson, who wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll, spent time working at Oxford University’s Christ Church Library, where many of his manuscripts are now held today.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

In addition to inventing calculus, German intellectual Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz served as the librarian for Duke Johann Friedrich of Brunswick in 17th-century Hanover.

Madeleine L’Engle

Another children’s book writer with a background as a librarian: A Wrinkle In Time author Madeleine L’Engle. L’Engle served as the librarian for New York City’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine for more than 40 years.

Giacomo Casanova

His surname has come to be synonymous with womanizing, but Giacomo Casanova also had a comparatively tame career in libraries. In the late 18th century, he served as librarian for Count von Waldstein in Bohemia.

Marcel Duchamp

Best known as a Dadaist visual artist, Marcel Duchamp also dabbled in library sciences, holding a brief post at the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, a historic library in Paris.

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