Not a Typical Librarian
August 22, 2012
I’m staring at a poster that says, "a new stereotype is long overdue." It features two pictures of librarians--one librarian is wearing her hair in a bun, sporting cat eye eyeglasses, a sweater, and scarf. She is clutching a stack of books in her arms and sternly "shushing" someone out of visible range. One glance in her direction elicits fear. The other librarian is young, looks like she could easily be the next Bond girl, and is interacting with some state-of-the-art technology; she doesn’t look like the "shushing" type. I understand the purpose of the poster. Gone are the days of sensible shoes and radical extremes to keep noise down in the library. Yet, if asked, I would not be able to define or draw a picture of a typical librarian. I don’t think there is such a thing. I would like to dispel a few myths though:
Myth #1: The people who work at the Library are super smart and know everything about every subject, website, and how to operate all of the latest technology. We do our best to answer all of your questions and help you with whatever it is you need; however, sometimes the information you are after is something that will take us time to dig for or figure out. We really don’t know everything. It is nearly impossible to keep pace with technology, and many of us are just as frustrated as you are with the new i-THIS and e-THAT! Our level of education ranges from high school student to Master of Library Science. Our past work experience ranges from library work to being retired from a previous occupation in a completely unrelated field.
Myth #2: People who work at the Library probably lead pretty boring lives. Not true at all. Some of us have passports and have travelled outside of the United States many times. We read, watch TV, go to baseball games, and have families (which include dogs, cats, and other assorted critters). We are active in our communities and places of worship. We go to rock concerts, teach rappelling, and sing karaoke. We participate in musical flash mobs, take an interest in politics, donate to charities, run in 5K’s and marathons, and grow awesome gardens. Some of us speak more than one language. Some are enrolled in college classes, and a few of us have other places we work besides the Library. Our ages range from 16 years old to "none of your business." We may not all be youthful in appearance, but we are all young at heart!
Myth #3: Library staff spends the whole day reading and telling people to be quiet. It’s true that there are times we would like the Library to be a quieter place. We recognize that times have changed and that information exchange via phone, computer, Internet, and face-to-face is more necessary than ever. We seriously don’t go around "shushing" people. If we have to tell someone to quiet down, it’s either because we’ve received a complaint or because they are causing a disruption. Our jobs are far from dull. We help people find what they are looking for, assist with Internet issues, teach classes, visit businesses, read to children, host programs, help with the copier, and reshelve materials. The only time we get an opportunity to read or listen to an audiobook is when we are taking a break or at lunch. Honestly, most of us wait to do our reading at home, because we’re just too busy to do it here!
I’m curious; if you had to describe a typical librarian, could you?
Blue Ridge Branch