What Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Gets Right (and Wrong) About Public Libraries

Like you, I love Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a quirky-yet-approachable comedy series starring an infectiously-upbeat woman (Ellie Kemper) who is freed from an underground bunker. (You haven’t seen it?! Okay, stop reading this and borrow the first season from the library.)

Cover of the show's first season on DVD, showing Kimmy jumping in a puddle.

Even though it’s made by Netflix, the series is on DVD – and the library has copies!

As a library worker, I was amused to see public libraries as a setting and punchline in the show. In the first season, for example, Kimmy’s roommate Titus Andromedon visits the library to stream an important courtroom trial.

It makes sense that Titus relies on the library for internet access. He’s a struggling artist in New York City. He rents a basement apartment and would not have the luxury of owning a laptop, never mind a broadband subscription. I appreciate that the show – as silly as it is – does not assume that everyone has everything.

In one episode, Titus decides to list his apartment on AirBnB. After he receives a successful booking, he nonchalantly tells Kimmy that they’re going to sleep at the library. While the New York Public Library may not be open 24/7 (which is part of the joke), it is neat that the show is highlighting the library as a welcoming place away from home.

But the library is not always shown in a positive light. The librarian Titus encounters is the familiar stereotype of an overly strict, unfriendly shusher (see GIF below). It’s an easy source of comedy, but I hope that it’s becoming more and more outdated…

Titus sits down in the library with his coffee. Right away, a librarian grabs it away.

Can’t get enough Ellie Kemper?

  • Kemper’s scenes as the secretary Erin are always funny in The Office. She shows up in seasons 5678 and 9 (follow links to borrow from the library).
  • She’s also in the films 21 Jump Street and Bridesmaids (follow links to borrow from the library).
  • The upcoming animated film The Secret Life of Pets (follow link to see the trailer) features voice acting from Kemper. It hits theatres July 8, 2016.
  • Kemper recently recommended The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney for a book of the month service (follow the link to reserve a spot for this upcoming library release): “I could not put this book down” (source of quote).