The library 4th is strongest in this one …

Jeff Mixter

star-wars

Happy “Star Wars Day,” and “May the 4th be with you!”

As a fan of both Star Wars and puns, I love this day. It is a chance to celebrate one of my favorite sci-fi franchises and, in many cases, meet random people at work (and on the street) based on a shared appreciation of the series. It is impossible to not become instant friends with someone whose toddler is wearing a onesie that says, “I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

On the professional side, I have also been interested in how Star Wars and its various themes and characters are represented in literature, film, music, the arts and, of course … libraries.

So here is your trivia question for today: which Star Wars character is best represented in libraries?

I had my own guess going into this bit of casual research … but I was wrong.

The contenders

While there are hundreds of interesting Star Wars characters, we all know who the big names are. So what I did was find the WorldCat Identity for each and jotted down the number of works, publications and holdings related to that character. Let us be clear on something from the onset: this is not super scientific, and has more to do with how catalogers decided to include metadata for a work than actual character representation in library material.

If you want to explore the list I used, check out the links below. Note: If you want to play fair, make your guess before you start looking. If you want to skip to the relative stats, I’ve put them at the end of this post.

If you really want to do all the research yourself, stop reading now and get clicking. Because we are about to narrow things down.

The Big Five

I will say that the top five in WorldCat were pretty much who I expected with one exception.

Luke, Darth, Obi-Wan and Princess Leia were no-brainers. However, I expected Yoda to outperform Han Solo, and he did not. The results from WorldCat Identities were very close to a Google Trends analysis I did for the month before and after the launch of Episode VII in December 2015.

I think it is especially interesting how attention in Han Solo spiked during opening weekend. If you have seen the film, you will understand why.

But still, in WorldCat—which spans a much longer time than one movie’s release—we came down to Luke, Darth, Obi-Wan, Leia and Han. And my guess, from that list, was still wrong.

Before reading any further, make your own guess, do your own math. Answer after the break.

The biggest Star Wars library star …

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Obi-Wan Kenobi!

I thought it would be Darth Vader, especially if you “re-ambiguated” his name with Annakin Skywalker. But no, Obi-Wan has almost 100 more records and more than 40,000 more holdings than his nearest competitor, Luke Skywalker. The whole list represented is shown below along with publications and holdings for each identity.

Why Obi-Wan? Well, if you look at the works in which he figures as a keyword, you will find that he is a character that spans both the original series (Episodes IV, V, VI), the prequels (I, II, III), a variety of stand-alone works and the animated series, The Clone Wars. The kicker may be the animated series, which lasted six seasons—a much heftier set of content than even a couple trilogies.

So, the secret to Obi-Wan’s 4th-fullness in libraries is simple: volume.

Happy Star Wars Day and May the 4th be with you!


 

Luke Skywalker (299 / 460 / 22,576) ● Princess Leia (169 / 238 / 17,304) ● Obi-Wan Kenobi (390 / 892 / 64,365) ● Han Solo (218 / 318 / 16,264) ● Darth Vader (224 / 360 / 5,573) ● R2-D2 (1 / 1 / 1) ● C-3P0 (4 / 5 / 4) ● Yoda (118 / 230 / 18,320) ● Boba Fett (23 / 28 / 1,929) ● Anakin Skywalker (11 / 12 / 28) ● Ahsoka Tano (7 / 7 / 66) ● Qui-Gon Jinn (27 / 47 / 5,967) ● Padmâe Amadala (1 / 3 / 117)