Seinfeld (1989–1998)
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The Library 

The library asks Jerry about a book he checked out in 1971 and never returned, so Jerry looks up an old girlfriend for his defense against a library cop.



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Episode complete credited cast:
Marion (as Ashley Gardener)
Mr. Lippman
Cynthia Szigeti ...
The 'Shusher'
Marie Barrientos ...


Jerry is amazed to receive a letter from the New York City Library telling him he has a overdue book - from 1971. He's certain he returned it - a copy of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer - but the library's chief investigator, a no-nonsense tough guy right out of a bad Hollywood movie, doesn't want to hear excuses. George is shaken when he goes to the library with Jerry only to see a homeless man on the step who is the spitting image of his high school tormentor, gym teacher Mr. Heyman. It was George's complaint that got the man fired and he now thinks he may have ruined his life. Kramer meanwhile starts dating the librarian and Elaine is convinced that her boss is out to fire her. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

16 October 1991 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The character name "Lieutenant Bookman" (portrayed by Philip Baker Hall) is an aptonym (where a person's name is regarded as amusingly appropriate to their occupation), due to his working for the New York Public Library. See more »


The librarian, Marion, says Mr. Bookman worked there for 25 years when Jerry, George & Kramer goes to the library at the beginning. But when Mr. Bookman is at Jerry's apartment, he said that 1971 was his first year on the job. This episode was aired in 1991, so that would make him 20 years on the job, not 25 as the librarian stated earlier. See more »


Lt. Bookman: Maybe we can live without libraries, people like you and me. Maybe. Sure, we're too old to change the world, but what about that kid, sitting down, opening a book, right now, in a branch at the local library and finding drawings of pee-pees and wee-wees on the Cat in the Hat and the Five Chinese Brothers? Doesn't HE deserve better? Look. If you think this is about overdue fines and missing books, you'd better think again.
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Crazy Credits

Sherry Becker was credited as Sandy. See more »


Featured in Seinfeld: Highlights of a Hundred (1995) See more »


Seinfeld Theme Song
Written by Jonathan Wolff
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User Reviews

"Bad year for libraries..."
12 April 2008 | by See all my reviews

In 1990, Stephen King's Four Past Midnight hit the shelves: a collection of four tales of horror, it got particularly gruesome in the section called The Library Policeman, a wince-inducing yarn that toyed with the idea of the eponymous "law enforcer". Why am I mentioning this? Because this episode of Seinfeld provides its own take on the figure, and while it is considerably lighter in tone than King's version, it most certainly qualifies as equally smart.

The events of the show are set in motion when Jerry receives a note telling him he still hasn't returned a library book he borrowed in high school (!). Utterly convinced something is wrong, he goes to the library to complain. Two more story lines stem from here: firstly, Kramer becomes infatuated with a librarian ("She needs a bit of Kramer!" Jerry: "Yeah, and then she'll need a shot of penicillin."); secondly, George thinks a hobo sitting outside the building is actually his old gym teacher, a man who used to torment him by deliberately mispronouncing his name: Cantstandya instead of Costanza. In the end, Jerry is forced to deal with Lt. Bookman (Philip Baker Hall) himself, which means there will be a lecture on how everything gets worse, year after year.

"Yeah, '71, that was my first year on the job... bad year for libraries, bad year for America...". That's how Baker Hall, one of the greatest character actors in recent film history, introduces The Library's best scene. Remembered by most people as the sad/manipulative character in the likes of Sydney, Boogie Nights and Magnolia, he has never really hit it big with a cinematic comedy. Sure, his minor role in Bruce Almighty was fun to watch, but a bit of a wasted opportunity. Here, instead, he succeeds in comically deforming his trademark persona while retaining a sort of realistic charm, with the result of Bookman being hilarious, but still believable as a human being. In fact, after seeing this, I kind of wonder whether '91 was good or bad for libraries...

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