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:
... Jerry Seinfeld
... Elaine Benes
... Kramer
... George Costanza
... Lt. Bookman
... Marion (as Ashley Gardener)
... Mr. Lippman
Cynthia Szigeti ... Sherry Becker
... Mr. Heyman
... The 'Shusher'
Marie Barrientos ... Receptionist


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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PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

16 October 1991 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


There's an error in the end credits of this episode. Sherry Becker (Cynthia Szigeti), Jerry's (Jerry Seinfeld) high school crush, is mistakenly listed as Sandy. 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 »


References Lord of the Flies (1963) See more »


Seinfeld Theme Song
Written by Jonathan Wolff
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User Reviews

The episode that introduces Bookman and the iconic Seinfeld phrase, "Cantstandya" into the show's lexicon
14 February 2018 | by See all my reviews

"The Library" might not be quite as polished as 'Seinfeld' episodes down the road but it is well remembered as a high point in the show's early years. This is where 'Seinfeld' was finally coming into its own and it's all on display in this fairly tightly woven twenty two minutes. There's very little that drags and while it is fondly looked back on for the character of Bookman, brilliantly played by the great character actor Phillip Baker Hall, it is entertaining all-round.

The episode begins with high pace and it sustains it quite well throughout the episode. What follows Seinfeld's opening stand-up piece is a phone call that Jerry receives from the New York Public Library whereby he receives the odd and distressing news that a book that he borrowed that he supposedly returned, is overdue and he will be met with a lengthy fine. The episode kicks itself into gear immediately and that too is refreshing and from here on in, the episode is an entertaining ride all the way through. Watching Kramer entice deeply buried feelings of love and lust in a lonely librarian is hilarious, as is the payoff later on where Kramer embarrassingly succumbs to tears while reading the librarian's poetry efforts. Michael Richards again nails the role and he makes even solitary phrases like 'memory burn' in this episode hilarious and memorable unto themselves. The character, the dynamic he adds to the show and the performance are all now at that ideal level.

While at the library, George discovers that his former gym teacher whom he had fired (according to Jerry, George 'sang like a canary') is now a destitute living outside the library. This is the sort of storyline that the show has done a number of times where George, either through no fault of his own or through a fault, has terrible consequences for someone else. It was present in the second season episode, "The Busboy" and will continue to make its presence known throughout the series. While the laughs on George's end may be a tad lacking compared to some of his more powerhouse performances this season, it's still very entertaining and it adds the classic 'Can'tstandya' to the 'Seinfeld' dictionary.

There's also Elaine, who gets the smallest role this episode albeit a still entertaining piece where she has trouble at work with her boss and fellow employees, who for some inexplicable reason seem to harbour feelings of resentment towards her. It's a very small story that gets a neat and amusing payoff later in the episode but arguably this storyline is most significant because it is early signs of Elaine's character becoming a more focal element of the series. Here we see her professional life and much like earlier in the season in "The Truth" where we saw her domestic life, it adds vitality to the character that makes her feel real, which is obviously of vital importance going forward with the series.

I enjoy "The Library" a lot even if my enjoyment does not quite match the reputation it has earned for itself. Phillip Baker Hall and his iconic character of Bookman is the obvious highlight of this episode but it manages to be entertaining beyond a powerhouse guest performance and character. I just don't *quite* consider it to be amazing.

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