Mychal Threets, aka Mychal the Librarian, has taken social media by storm by sharing his love for books and the library in hopes of getting the masses excited about reading again.

In a move that is quite a kismet one, Threets has partnered with one of his favorite PBS characters to keep up the momentum around making learning fun again.

“It first began when I was about 3 years old,” Threets told Blavity in regard to where his love for trips to the library first began. “That’s when I remember my mom started taking me and my siblings to the local library. I’m just turning 34 this past February, so the library has been a part of my life for over 30 years. I just always loved to be that kid who thought they were gonna read every single book, all the summer reading challenges, story times, making friends at the library, seeing the self-checkouts installed and using those for the first time, but being too small and having to stand on a step stool.”

@mychal3ts Thank you for your time 🫶🏽 Your #MentalHealthMatters and it ALWYAS will! Visit your local library if you don’t believe me 💚☺️ #BookTok #LibraryTikTok #Storytime ♬ original sound – mychal

He added, “Every little aspect of the library — as a kid, getting my first library card at the age of 5 and starting a lifelong love of learning from there. I just started sharing my stories on the internet because they were so fun to me. They made my day and made me want to keep on going each day, serving the library and being passionate as a librarian. I found them funny and wholesome and thought maybe someone else would want to hear how unhinged library people are as well.”

Not only did other people want to hear it, but today Threets has more than 785,000 followers on TikTok, with just over 16 million likes on the videos that he’s shared with the world regarding all things learning and how the library ties into it all.

His latest library story involves the beloved PBS character Arthur, after the team tapped Threets to be a part of a short titled Arthur Meets Mychal the Librarian ahead of the American National Library Association’s National Libary Week, which kicked off April 7.

“One of Arthur’s theme songs is ‘Having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card,’” Carol Greenwald, senior executive producer at GBH Kids, told Blavity. “We just really felt like Mychal embodied that in himself and his message, so we were thrilled to work with him on this. And, of course, the fact that he has a tattoo of Arthur’s library card also made him dear to our hearts. It all seemed like a natural connection.”

For Threets, the moment is not only a dream come true, but one that surpasses anything his younger self could’ve ever imagined.

“Baby Mychal would never think this would have happened,” he said. “People have been asking me if I ever thought it would happen, like, by me working in the library, and the answer is not at all. That’s not why I joined the library. It wasn’t like, ‘This is how I’m gonna get to meet my good friend Arthur.’ I just wanted to be amongst the people, amongst my community, helping them to find books, helping them to remember that they belong in their local library.”

Threets continued: “But now, to go from being a lifelong lover of Arthur Read, PBS and GBH, to being able to talk with Arthur, read, sing along, but also remind Arthur that it’s OK to not be OK, it’s just a full-circle moment from childhood me, growing up watching Arthur and D.W.’s shenanigans. To me, watching Reading Rainbow and Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and all of the kindness on one platform to being able to speak to that kind aardvark — which I didn’t even know what an aardvark was until I started reading Arthur.” 

With Arthur being a character that spans generations, Greenwald and team say that his messaging today is just as important as it was when the series was first developed by PBS in 1996, if not more necessary than ever.

“We want to be where kids are. We know that our episodes are still on PBS and we know that kids are still watching them,” Greenwald explained. “But, we also know that there are a ton of kids who are consuming media on YouTube and looking at digital platforms, so we need to be there to give the same message we have for kids — about empowerment, about reading, about mental health. We have to be there if we’re going to reach those kids. I think we’re trying to be where the kids are, but also being consistent about what the messaging is and how Arthur and all of the things that Mychal is referring to can help you to become your best self because that’s what we want for all kids.”

At the end of the day, Threets said he hopes this short helps to break the common misconception that librarians are old and mean.

“What I was hoping to get across as we kind of worked together to create that part of the video was that if you’re honest with your local library staff, if you let them know what’s going on, you don’t have to worry, you don’t have to be afraid to come back to the library,” Threets said. “You can ask for help and the library workers will help you. So that’s a big misconception. Like, you don’t have to worry about all those fines from years ago — come back to your local library and give us a chance. Many libraries have gone fine-free just for that very reason: to bring people flooding back to the local library. And we mean what we say, we want you to come back. We can waive fines. Life happens, even library workers have overdue fines and return things late. So, I think that the main misconception I love is that we’re no longer the shushing, mean-spirited library workers, we’re trying to be better. We’re trying to bring people back and help them whenever we can.”

Together, Mychal the Librarian and Arthur are tackling world literacy one trip to the library at a time!