Thursday 9 June 2022

Blogjune Day 9 - Stereotypes

Today’s question: Do I fit the librarian stereotype?

But first – some Eurotrashy goodness. Can you spot the theme here?

So, I want to respond with another question: What is the librarian stereotype nowadays? Is it the same as it was 10 years ago… 20 years ago?

Is it still the cardigan / pearls-and-twin-set / plaid wearing codger / spinster who like sipping on tea and having a house full of cats? Is it the tragic alternate-reality fate of Mary in It’s a Wonderful Life, who, shock-horror, never got married and is closing up the library on Christmas Eve? Is it the stern stickler for rules, order and quiet – ready to give a death stare and assertive ‘shh’ to anyone who violates the sanctity of their realm?
Stereotypes are often grounded in elements of truth, based on shared experiences. But do people still think that’s what librarians are like, now in 2022? 

I'd like to hope that the general assumptions of who a librarian is and what they do - based on people's experience of working with librarian - has changed substantially over the last decade, just as libraries themselves have changed. The value they bring to society should be evident.

Then again, the ABC just announced that they were to axe all of their librarians and archivists - and yes, that article acknowledges that 'the stereotypes of librarians and archivists remain (inappropriately) grounded in a presumption of work happening in dusty bookshelves and basement collections'. If librarians can’t prove our professional value to its national broadcaster and public information network, then they have a real problem on our hands.

So, do I fit the librarian stereotype? I am bookish, I own multiple cardigans and tweed suits and I have dark-rimmed glasses, but that’s about as far as it goes.

If anything, I do try to debunk the stereotype where I can. I’m a strong communicator, I’m good with technology, and I’m a people person. I’m progressive in my social views, and a fan of breaking rules. I try not to take myself too seriously, and let my achievements speak for themselves.

I don’t care much for the stereotype – but I still enjoy poking fun at it. Anybody who’s seen the recent film Gunpowder Milkshake will agree – it was mostly awful (or maybe you enjoyed it?), but its saving grace were the three kick-ass ‘librarians’ who stole the show in the final act.

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