Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2013, 11:00 pm

Moline librarian bringing together teen 'Doctor Who' fans

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By Todd Welvaert, twelvaert@qconline.com

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Photo: Todd Welvaert
Moline librarian Jan LaRoche holds up some of the Dr. Who items that will be part of the first meeting of the Brilliant Companions fan club, for those who like BBC science fiction shows including Doctor Who, Merlin, and Sherlock. The first meeting be tonight at 6:30 p.m. at the Moline Library, 3210 41st St. Moline. For more information call (309) 524-2470.
The BBC television show "Doctor Who" is about a hero who uses a space ship shaped like a British police box to travel through place and time, to right wrongs and help ordinary people, and learn about new worlds, cultures and historical events.

It's a job that might seem a little familiar to Jan LaRoche, 38, of East Moline, who is the young adult librarian at the Moline Public Library.

A library is nothing if not a place you can enter, find new worlds, learn about different cultures or experience historical events. And she will be the first to say, it's a great place to help out an ordinary person.

"The best part of my job is that I love helping people learn new things or help them get through something," she said. "That's what libraries are all about."

So it should come as little surprise Mrs. LaRoche and her teen advisory group are starting a Brilliant Companions fan club for devotees of "Doctor Who" and other popular BBC science fiction shows, such as "Merlin," "Sherlock" and "Primeval."

"It came out of my teen advisory group, and I ran it past my teen writers group and it seemed pretty popular," Mrs. LaRoche said. "We wanted to open it up to more than just "Doctor Who," but "Doctor Who" seems to be the most popular."

The show aired from 1963 to 1989 and always enjoyed a cult classic status in America. Since the BBC restarted the show in 2005, it's been a huge hit. The show's previous seasons can be found on Internet providers such as Netflix, so new fans find the show.

"I think it's just such a fun story," Mrs. LaRoche said. "The Doctor is such a child himself at times. I think he's a a good character for teens. He's independent and responsible, but still fun. I think he's the adult teens hope to grow up to be and the adult, adults wish they were."

Her favorite character since the series restart, is Christopher Eccleston known as the ninth Doctor.

"There was just something about him," she said. "He was kind of childish, but serious too. I really liked him."

Mrs. LaRoche decided to become a librarian after she realized that teaching in a classroom wasn't a good fit for her but being a librarian was a perfect fit. "I love being able to teach without being in a classroom," she said.

After she got her graduate degree from the University of Illinois, she got a job in a Galesburg library, before coming to Moline 12 years ago. In that time, she's seen big changes in the young adult book market.

"It's just exploded," she said. "It used to be hard to spend our budget on young adult books. They were problem-centered, to help a teen get through something. But now the young adult market is a microcosm of the literature market. There's so many really, really good books out there. I want to buy them all."

Mrs. LaRoche's husband, Chris, is a physics and chemistry teacher at Sherrard High School. She has a daughter, Raimi, 8, and a son, Nicodemus, 10.

"My son is named after the rat in 'The Secret of NIMH' and my daughter is named after (film director and producer) Sam Raimi."

Mrs. LaRoche isn't exactly sure how the fan club will work but wants it to be member-driven. The first meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight. There is no age limit.

"I just really like the adventure of it, the possibilities," she said. "I think in literature or TV shows or movies, you are going to like it best if you can picture yourself in it, and be carried away by it. In 'Doctor Who,' the possibilities are limitless.

"You can go anywhere in time or place and the Doctor finds beauty and importance in everything. In one of the first episodes (after the restart in 2005) the Doctor says this line about how an ordinary man is the most important thing in creation.

"It's one of those things that sticks with you, when you're done watching the show. The Doctor thinks what I'm doing is important. That's a good feeling."


If you go
The first meeting of the Brilliant Companions fan club, for those who like BBC science fiction shows including Doctor Who, Merlin, andSherlock, will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Moline Library, 3210 41st St. Moline. Registration required; call (309) 524-2470.