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To be cool is to be young and male?

Thank you, New York Times, for reinforcing the status quo in this mortifying article about “hip” librarians. Not since Britannica rounded up a dozen-odd white guys and a chick to tell us how the Intertubes work have I felt quite so condescended to as this fatuous article peppered with its arch references to shushing, fancy cocktails, tattoos, and “guybrarians.”

As Dorothea tersely commented on Twitter yesterday, the “guybrarian” reference is “the rest of the world laughing at men who go into female-dominated professions. Women=worthless. Still.” It’s a word as toxic as “co-ed” was, once upon a liberation.

Note that the photo for this article artlessly captures how librarianship is still over eighty percent female — just as it unwittingly observes how white we still are as a profession. But that’s the kind of killjoy observation that would never find its way into the Styles section, any more than this bit of fluff could muster up enough rigor to ponder the role of gender in ensuring that masters-level professsionals wear “thrift-store inspired” garments to a party. (Not to be confused with my “Target-inspired garments.”)

Then again, I am sure that public librarians in New York and Queens are wondering just where those $51,000 jobs are.

Knowing Jessamyn, I also know this article so poorly captures her zeitgeist. Jessamyn is of the hippest of the hip not because she routinely uses instant messaging, but because she is such a tireless advocate for  small libraries and poor communities — the unserved, often voiceless communities many of us (including me) forget about when we get hopped up about some new new thing. And did the article have to mention her age?  Does that mean if Jessamyn were ten years older she wouldn’t have been interviewed?

I am an aging, wrinkly thing whose idea of a wild evening is playing “Spin the Netflix” to pick a movie to watch while we fold laundry and pay bills. I dress like a square, will never get drunk enough to get a tattoo (especially one with the FDLP logo — do let me rant someday about gov docs), and avoid sleeveless dresses, as there are just not enough arm-curls in the world to defeat gravity times age.

But I am cool in my subversive old-lady tech-loving the-user-is-not-broken way, and getting cooler all the time, and I count among my friends and colleagues librarians of all ages, dress codes, and evening habits. What we share is not a love of expensive mixed drinks or the ability to hang out in cliques, but a passion for the profession.

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  1. Amen. Yes, you are cool…a heck of a lot cooler than this article makes librarianship as a profession look. Are those librarians “hip”? Sure. Are they cool? Well, maybe, but if so, this article does them a disservice.

    As a 26 year old (in degree, anyway) librarian, this article was more than a little mortifying. It made it sound like anyone my age would have gone to library school because it was “hip to be square,” and so that I could stand around, horn-rimmed glasses firmly planted on my face, mingling with well-read, tattooed twentysomethings while we down drinks with cutesy names from the Dewey Decimal System.

    Have I met a bunch of interesting and interested people (from a wide age range) in the profession and in library school? Sure. Is that why I joined it? Admittedly, it was part of it…I love being part of a profession that is full of such intelligent, well-read and passionate individuals.

    My main reason for going to library school was, however, because I love learning, and I get a huge kick out of connecting people with the information they need and want. I love helping people. THAT is cool…maybe not “hip,” but it’s definitely cool to me. THAT is what this article should have focused on.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 8:33 am | Permalink
  2. Jeff wrote:

    Guybrarian? They made it seem like it was some common term in the article :) I wonder if I will hear it on Monday.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 8:47 am | Permalink
  3. Amy Kearns wrote:

    Wow, as always, that was great – perfectly-worded!

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  4. Do you think the writer thought “hipster” was a groovy new term?

    “Handsome Harry the Hipster”

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  5. Laura wrote:

    Very nicely said.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  6. kgs wrote:

    Kathleen, I’m sure the author used “hipster” in that knowing, ironic-retro manner that results in parts of Manhattan looking like Goodwill On Parade. I love Harry’s eyes — he’s got a certain lemur look about him!

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 10:02 am | Permalink
  7. kgs wrote:

    Oh, and all, check out this job in NY, supposedly causing a bit of discussion on the state list:

    $20k, 30 hours a week, no benefits… you’d have trouble buying the string to hold up the barrel serving as your dress! (Thanks to an FRL Mouse for sending this in.)

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 10:21 am | Permalink
  8. Julian wrote:

    A whole blog post (or 20) could be done about that job posting. Regardless of the standard of living in Middleburgh, NY, and the funding of its library, I know exactly who might be a good match for that job. (I wouldn’t dare go into much more detail, other than to say that the degree preference should read something other than BA/BS or MLS.)

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 10:56 am | Permalink
  9. Thom Pelling wrote:

    What’s with all the self-righteous responses to this article?

    You feel like you’ve been condescended to? Well, the article wasn’t really intended for a librarian audience, was it? It’s just exposing the generally benighted American public to the idea that librarianship can indeed be remotely cool/hip. Is it a stunning piece of journalism? Clearly not. But is it anything to get your underwear in a bunch over? No.

    Librarian bloggers run around proclaiming how tech-savvy they are, how hip and with-it they are….and so on. But regardless of one’s tech savvy, the trend among new librarians is very much what they presented in the article: smart, fashionable people who drink cocktails, live an urban lifestyle, and rest on a moral high horse about their awesome, if meager-paying jobs. I looked at that photo, for instance, and thought it was an accurate representation of the people in my program…especially the young women. Oh, and I hear the word “guybrarian” get tossed around a lot, actually. I don’t see any problem with it, as it does point out (in a pretty non-offensive way) that there are relatively few men in the profession. Why not call a spade a spade?

    So, come on…don’t you think the NYT was set up for an article of this sort? Just look at that Rachel Singer Gordon “NextGen” book. Look at all the “We’re so fly” librarians posting even the most inane pictures on Flickr. And so on….

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  10. pam wrote:

    Hey, yeah, I’m with Thom on this one.
    Enjoyed the article for what it was. Makes me wish we had a Desk Set in TX; new, old or whatever.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  11. kgs wrote:

    There’s a huge difference between the statement “some librarians are hip and young” (true) and “this is librarianship” (not true). We don’t like it when we’re portrayed as dowdy; but the fact is, all stereotypes are damaging in their own way.

    In terms of “guybrarian,” it’s related to terms such as “coed” and “stewardess” that are based on assumptions about gender and the workforce and what the norms are for specific professions. It’s true that librarianship is a feminized profession, but the qualifier is significant. Do you hear people saying “woman doctor” any more?

    Also, I may be a librarian but I am also a bona fide NYT subscriber, so how “my” paper portrays me very much affects me. The article is guilty of NYT’s ambivalence about whether it is a “national paper of record,” as it sometimes thinks of itself (in which case such an article is fully, absurdly off the mark) or whether it is a regional paper, in which case all you can really say is hey, that’s New York.

    Also, I sense a little anger in the statement about librarian bloggers running around proclaiming their tech-savviness, and in fact I would be hard-pressed to find someone who did in fact do that. The hip are simply hip; the savvy are simply savvy. The fallacy of mainstream media is that it attempts to describe that, which when described, loses quite a bit of what makes it special in the first place.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 2:38 pm | Permalink
  12. kgs wrote:

    Oh, and Pop Goes the Library says it all for me:

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 2:50 pm | Permalink
  13. Laura wrote:

    In fact, sadly, I have heard “woman doctor” rather more often that you’d like to think. My mother (who is in fact holds double doctorates, a PhD and an MD) still gets asked routinely by her patients, “Where’s the doctor?” I’ll grant you that her patients are mostly geriatric–but still. I keep thinking that perhaps we have to start saying “man doctors” and “man writers” and “man businessmen” for it to sink in fully to people just how ridiculous that phrasing really is.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 5:16 pm | Permalink
  14. kgs wrote:

    Oh, dear, I hadn’t even imagined that still went on. (Though I have had vendors walk past me, looking for the “man” in charge — that always goes over well.)

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 5:39 pm | Permalink
  15. cindi wrote:

    By the way, you are NOT a “wrinkly thing”! But you *are* getting cooler all the time. ;)

    Well said!

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 6:52 pm | Permalink
  16. Ahh, I’ve been trolling around looking for more backlash… thanks, what a satisfying post!

    And we don’t call ours a ‘guybrarian’ – retch. He’s our Token Boy Librarian, TokenBoy for short.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 6:56 pm | Permalink
  17. Oleg K. wrote:

    I rather enjoyed the article.

    That said, your points are well-taken.

    As far as Guybrarian, that’s just corny.

    Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 8:48 pm | Permalink
  18. kgs wrote:

    I think we’re ALL getting cooler all the time. :-) As for me, I tried taking pictures of me in the BIGWIG teeshirt, and there was no angle that did not make it clear that my neck is almost half a century old. Delete, delete, delete! At least it’s the South, where it’s routine to wear makeup every day.

    I once worked with a very nice librarian who made the point that I often singled him out by gender and that made him uncomfortable. Having definitely Been There, I felt my consciousness rise on this point, and I corrected my behavior. Reform begins with each of us…

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 5:45 am | Permalink
  19. When was the last time librarians were featured in the Style section of the New York Times? Most professions would love coverage like this. I echo others when I point out that Style section articles are usually fluffy.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 8:04 am | Permalink
  20. Joy wrote:

    Oh, boy, do I agree with you! I had exactly the same reaction. Yes, I’m techy and have been for decades as the technology has changed. I carry my own toolkit from job to job and actually read the manuals that come with new equipment so I know how they work and how to fix them. I blog, I wiki, I RSS feed, and etc. AND, I can’t wear sleeveless dresses either because of gravity & time! Those guys in the article sound like really nice, interesting people who happen to share a profession with me but I’ve found nice, interesting people sharing my profession for years & years–back when instead of pink hair it was hair down to your shoulders (for men!) and long sideburns. AND, I remembered when tie-die FIRST came out and librarians wore it. I remember Woodstock (though I didn’t have enough money in library school or the time off from working my way through school to go. Librarians have been “hip”, caring people concerned with the underserved & the disenfranchised for longer than the people in the article have been alive. Librarians know that…in fact the article mentions that one of these “hip librarians” was turned on to the profession by a librarian–presumeably someone older than the “hip librarian”. Give me a break! Belly dancing librarians–a news filler on a slow day. They always seem to play us for the laugh or for the shock value of how “hip” we are in spite of being LIBRARIANS. Sigh.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  21. kgs wrote:

    Michael, I think most professionals aren’t worried about “their profession” getting mentioned in the Styles section, and would laugh off articles that strained to portray accountants, lawyers, or doctors as hip.

    I can take this all the way back to the @ Your Library campaign, which was an attempt to take something related to technology — the @ sign of all things — and tack it on to whatever we were doing. It was painful.

    To quoth Tower of Power:

    What is hip? Tell me tell me, if you think ya know.
    What is hip? And if you’re really hip, the passing years will show,
    That you into a hip trip, maybe hipper than hip.
    But what is hip?

    We’re hip as we are. Striving for hip undoes the hipness.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 8:16 am | Permalink
  22. Really, I keep thinking that if you substituted “teacher” for “librarian” in this article, more people would understand why it’s so offensive.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  23. John wrote:

    Wow, too many comments. Habib++ Thom++ Additionally, I like to be associated with cocktails even though I haven’t had many since Library School.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  24. Thom Pelling wrote:

    Ooh….I forgot to mention that, although I am an LIS student in Michigan, my sister is a practicing librarian. And she happens to live in NYC. She’s had an MLIS for about four years and makes around $60,000 as an academic librarian. I think she started around $55k or so. Maybe it’s not a common amount for public librarians, but I’d guess that it’s pretty standard for academic librarians with two master’s degrees or for corporate librarians who work in for-profit settings.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 11:00 am | Permalink
  25. For what it’s worth, I added a little more on my blog:

    This is the Most E-mailed article.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  26. Jamee wrote:

    Why is everyone so angry about this? Was the article a masterpiece? No. But come on…

    It’s already been said, but the article was featured in the style section… probably sandwiched between articles on how Carrie Bradshaw chic “never dies” and a “where are they now” piece on Studio54 patrons. Please relax. Or channel that energy into, I don’t know, fighting against the Patriot Act or for vegan rights…

    I know MANY professional organizations/associations would love to see an article drawn up about their fields.

    Finally, folks in Montanans have been using the term guybrarians and gaybrarians (lovingly, of course!) for a while now. Nothing new, and nobody here has lost any sleep over it.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  27. genX librarian with no tattoos (who happens to be a guy - but never a guybrarian) wrote:

    I thought it was a fun little article and welcome the stereotype change. I don’t really understand the backlash.
    As already mentioned, we need to remember that this article appeared in the Styles section.
    Get over it.
    If I’m not mistaken, this is still the #1 emailed NYT article. Who do you think is email this thing like mad to everyone they know?

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 12:46 pm | Permalink
  28. Jim Elliott wrote:

    Then again, I am sure that public librarians in New York and Queens are wondering just where those $51,000 jobs are.

    Shoot, I’m wondering that myself, down here in the boonies of rural North Florida! In fact, I’ve yet to meet that many of us (outside of academia) who have cracked the $35,000 pay barrier! Directors, maybe, regular, run-of-the-mill librarians, uh-uh.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm | Permalink
  29. kgs wrote:

    Indeed, Jim, I’ve worked all kinds of libraries and therefore all pay ranges. The interesting thing is above the entry-level jobs, the amount of work I needed to do and the level of expertise required seems to remain constant from job to job — rural “part-time” director with no retirement benefits, special library director, PL systems person, academic systems person, website maven, etc. Certainly in some parts of our profession people *think* they are worth more, but I’ve encountered brilliant librarians and human turnips in every corner of LibraryLand… it’s all about the same.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  30. Linda K wrote:

    Here’s another take on this from a civilian:

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Permalink
  31. Linda K wrote:

    Wait, I’ll just put in the address:

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Permalink
  32. Nancy wrote:

    the midpoint in a series of numbers; half the data values are above the median, and half are below.

    Monday, July 9, 2007 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  33. librariansgonemild wrote:

    While I wouldn’t say my clothes are not exactly thrift store inspired (I left that look behind in college), I do dress fashionably. I ride a bike to work. I have a myspace page. I’m in a band and do all my own artwork for our flyers and cds etc. I just finished a French class. I volunteer at indie film festivals and go to record stores. I guess you could say I’m a little on the hip side.

    But guess what? That doesn’t make me any more or less of a librarian!

    I’ve had my library degree now for 1/5 of my 30 year old life. I had my MLIS at 23 and since then I’ve been a public librarian, a federal librarian, and now I’ve been a corporate librarian for four years. I went to SLA this year and realized I packed 7 pairs of shoes for a three night stay. “That’s all right,” I rationalized to myself. “I have to pack more pairs to make up for some people who did not pack enough.” (Yes, I’m talking to you, Ms. Black Stockings with white Reeboks. Admitting you have a fashion problem is the first step.)

    Overall I thought the article was a little goofy, but I think I remember the NYT health section doing an article on doctors dressing too sexy. !!! I’m sure it probably pissed a few people off in their profession, but I remember laughing it off. It certainly didn’t do anything to alter my opinions of doctors.

    To quote from one of my favorite movies Stripes, “Lighten up Francis.” So somebody wrote an article saying that some librarians like to get drunk and wear cute clothes. I fail to see a real big problem with this. Some librarians do! Just because many librarians DON’T doesn’t make the article inaccurate. Kind of stupid, perhaps, but not inaccurate.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2007 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  34. cowboy in bklyn wrote:

    I have been following the blog posts on the NYT article and find it amusing how many people can get upset over a rather mindless piece of newspaper filler. The Styles section is not for serious information or breaking news features. I am glad that a post was added defining the term median and salary quotes should be taken as a guideline not the final word.
    The clothes that we wear have always been a source of comments and ammusement for people both inside and outside the professional. Walk around the exhbit hall at any conference and you will see people who do dress to sterotype and those who do not. On the rare occassions I wore a suit to work made my staff wonder which politico was visiting or what meeting I had just come from. My preferred mode of dress at work is western which includes a black Stetson hat and cowboy boots. It does get me noticed walking down Flatbush Avenue and at ALA.
    Over the years I have made it a point not fit the professional sterotype. I work in an urban system, commute by rail, live in a suburban tract house, give elegant dinner parties and prefer the 19th century to the techno world of the 21th century.

    Each generation of librarians adds something to our profession- some things will change how we work(electronic resources and many other computer applications) and other things(social networking) are just for fun. The Desk Set group are a group of people who are having fun and enjoying themselves. There are many others in our profession that need to lighten up and have some fun. So head on down to your favorite watering hole and enjoy the beverage of your choice(bartender a cognac for me please)

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  35. Jim wrote:

    To the people who agree with this post: Please quit libraries. You are impossible to work with. Normal people do not like working with you.

    Thursday, July 12, 2007 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  36. Sharon wrote:

    I thought the article was just filler fluff. Perhaps we should be approaching in with the notion in mind that no publicity is bad publicity.

    I’m still glad you called it out, though. The profession has gotten so self-conscious about correcting its “shushing-old-lady-in-a-bun” image (which really shouldn’t need much correcting at this point–that stereotype was two generations ago!) that I’m starting to worry that I’ll be required to show a tattoo and proof of Harley ownership before I’ll be allowed to graduate with my MLIS.

    Friday, July 13, 2007 at 7:04 am | Permalink
  37. I am glad not everyone is accepting this article with open arms. I would never want to be called a “guybrarian”, I am very proud of my job and resent the idea that the designation needs to be changed according to sex.

    Friday, July 13, 2007 at 1:56 pm | Permalink
  38. Dora wrote:

    I know it’s pretty late in the game to be commenting on this article but…

    As someone who lived in New York for many years and who worked in publishing before going to library school, I may have a different perspective from everyone else.

    In my opinion, this article is only nominally about librarianship. The story inside this story is, What is it to be young, idealistic, smart, bookish, and socially conscious in New York City in 2007? How do you survive? How do you find fulfilling work?

    Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth has spoken in interviews about how back in the early 1980s all the smart, creative twentysomethings she knew worked at Kinko’s and made art at night. In the intervening years, New York has become oppressively expensive (the Times also just ran an article in which it was noted that $225,000 was a reasonable price to pay for a private parking space in Manhattan), and American society as a whole has become very dog-eat-dog. Youngsters can’t work at Kinko’s as they get their lives sorted out. They need real jobs with health insurance.

    I’m not saying that librarianship is the last refuge of “creative types” who need day jobs–I’ll leave it to the Times reporter to put that kind of vapid spin on things. What I do say is that librarianship is a field that is hospitable to young people like those in the Desk Set (some of whom I know personally), i.e. socially conscious recent college grads who want to help people and who care about more than making money. A generation ago, they might have gone into publishing. But nowadays publishing is mostly about getting the wise words of Howard Stern and/or Rush Limbaugh into print and making loads of money while doing it. It’s not for the idealistic.

    I think librarians need to stop taking everything in this article so personally. I went to some of the early Desk Set meetings more than a year ago, and I can say the only reason the word “guybrarian” was ever bandied about was because these young women were so genuinely delighted by the presence of a few young male librarians in their midst. It was used in a spirit of friendliness and perhaps almost flirtatiousness among friends. I can imagine young medical students joking around and using terms like “lady doctor” in the same way. If anything, in this context, the word “guybrarian” pokes fun at the stereotypes. It’s obviously not something they’d use in a professional context. (They don’t call their male bosses or library-school professors “guybrarians.”)

    Anyway, I agree that the article was stupid, but might I gently suggest that the vitriolic reaction towards it makes us look humorless…you know, like the old stereotype of librarians.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 7:39 am | Permalink
  39. kgs wrote:

    “Humorless”… I’ve been on “high gender alert” for this whole discussion. Hmmm, interesting word, as that was frequently tossed at feminists in the early days, as in, can’t those broads take a joke?

    I get your point about the larger perspective for this article (having lived in New York in the last possible time that you could find a cheap place and get by, if you absolutely had to), but it intrigues me that I can write about many incendiary issues, and yet this is the huge, heavily commented “gatekeeper” discussion, one in which librarians keep telling other librarians what should and should not be discussed (lest we be misinterpreted… yet again).

    I used to think it was fun to comment on the one or two male librarians I worked with — look at us, we’re cool enough to attract men! — until one of them advised me how uncomfortable he was being singled out by gender. My librarian colleagues who identify as transgendered are acutely sensitive to the gender labels as well. The accompanying thread on PUBLIB — where a male library administrator commented how he and his wife had walked around the conference, criticizing the weight and appearance of librarians — put some of these issues a little more bluntly to the forefront.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 7:50 am | Permalink
  40. Bess Reynolds wrote:

    Another late comment:
    In 2003 while at a summer program at Oxford U.(for librarians), I had the pleasure of hearing librarian Antony Brewerton give a humorous talk entitled, “In cyberspace, no one can hear you shush….” Antony is an old hand at image busting for librarian stereotypes. He included a program with bibliography and list of web sites. Some of the articles go back to 1991.
    Web sites included The Lipstick Librarian, The Bellydancing Librarian, The Modified Librarian, You don’t look like a librarian, etc.
    The point here is that The New York Times could have done a more thorough job of seeking out librarians who do not fit the stereotypes if this were not just another puff piece. They could have used a good information professional!
    Disclaimer, I always read the Style section first on Sunday morning before I have enough caffeine to move on to the Week in Review. That way it doesn’t have to make sense.
    P.S. Antony is now the Head of Academic Support at the University of Warwick Library in the UK. If you ever want to hear one of the funniest presentations by a librarian, seek him out.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 10:16 am | Permalink
  41. Anne wrote:

    So, this “hip” thing isn’t referring to the area directly below my waist?


    I was hoping its expansion would make me the hippest librarian around.

    Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 3:55 pm | Permalink
  42. Katy wrote:

    I am going to go out on a limb here and about that I too, like a few posters before me, gasp, enjoyed the article. Clearly, it was a lifestyle article, with all the silliness that entails. As someone who could be easily made fun of for being a “hipster” librarian I was amused and relieved for a second to see people who, well, looked like me, and a little less like the perfectly smart and interesting people in my MLiS program, who well, remind me of my parents. I think it is fair to say that the article was silly…but to assume that everyone who looks like a hipster librarian is just some kind of “lame hipster” is equally shallow.

    It seems to me that one of the issues people keep getting in a ruffle over witih this article is its portrayal of what librarians may or may not be. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter one whit what we librarians think of ourselves. If the public we are trying to serve still sees us as stuffy, bookish (and not in a good way), out of date, and out of touch, then we’re not doing our job. If a silly lifestyle article in the NYT can even hope to make a dent in that little PR problem, then god bless it. Maybe we could be debating the seeming lack of diversity in our ranks and all that that entails instead of bitching about a fluffy article and it’s use of the apparently offensive term guybrarian…instead of eating each other alive over something so superficial.

    Saturday, July 21, 2007 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  43. kgs wrote:

    I don’t think you’re “out on a limb,” though I don’t agree with you (which is fine… I mean, it’s a blog, if I wanted to think everyone agreed with me, I’d surround myself with ditto-heads and turn off comments). I think Pop Goes the Library got it right: we need fewer stereotypes, period.

    But it was a flash in the pan, wasn’t it? Now Styles is focusing on expensive pet care. I’ve advised our cats to stay healthy….

    Sunday, July 22, 2007 at 6:46 am | Permalink
  44. Delores wrote:

    I read the article quite a while ago and remember thinking it was a bit weird. I went to Library school in 1979 however, I didn’t finish. I left for a very much needed job and have since regretted it. I since went on to get a MSW and a MSEd. Interesting enough the issues of serious Librarians has not changed.Public Librarians, Academic Librarians, Legal Librarians etc. are all concerned with helping people connect with the information they need – to get to where they want to go.

    Public Librarianship has been very concerned with helping the poor and disenfranchised of our cities and rural communites for decades. When I went to Library school no one had the tweety bird librarians hair-do. Actually, you all would agree that Librarians throughout your lifetime have never looked like that. THey looked much like teachers, nurses, and other professionals. The media and film noir has perpetrated this stereotype which ofcourse we know is ridiculous. We all know how important a good librarian is when we go to the Library and we are assisted professionaly by one. Given my backround in Library Science, I get totally miffed if I feel I have been served poorly by a librarian. The main focus of Librarianship is making the Library a user friendly place for the public to seek information. Truthfully. I have found most Librarians to be very helpful and informative. I have never seen any cob webs on their hair and they seem capable of using the same salons and hair equipment as the rest of us.

    I think that part of the reason that we talk so ignorantly of the Librarian profession is because it is a woman dominated profession. There have always been men in the profession. When I was in graduate school we were informed that for men the profession was a lucrative one. Men tended to be made Head Librarians or Library Managers or system wide managers. Dealing with Gender discrimination in this field was considered a serious problem.

    Teachers suffer from the same type sterotypes like Librarians. It has to do with some male fantasy of bringing out the beast in a repressed female.

    The article was ignorant in many ways. I guess now that Librarians have exchanged their wardrobe and their alcohol abstinence has been exchanged for fashionable clothes and alcoholic beverages the librarians of yester year can be finally catalogued away where they belong.

    Well, I have many friends who did finish the program and work in many different Library settings ( academic, public, private, hospital reseach libraries tetc.) Curiously, they all look like the rest of us. Most laugh at the stupidity of such articles like in the NYT. I would have liked to have been in some of the graduate school discussions that this article must of elicited.

    Anyway, I came across this blog as I was looking to return to a part time program and possibly get my MLS. I am thinking of pursueing Librarianship when I retire. Talk to you all soon, I have to go get some pins to put my hair in a bun. Hmmm, where are my reading glasses ?

    Monday, August 20, 2007 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  45. Beth wrote:

    I agree with a lot of the commenters here – it was a stupid article, yes, but there are tons of “hip” librarians out there. (And of course many young people do look like that in general, hip or not, librarian or not, and probably especially in Brooklyn.) I think it’s crazy that a newspaper would waste time on an article like this at all – wow, there are young librarians? Yes, and there are young any other kind of profession as well – but as they mentioned there are MORE librarians in the past 10 years, so if you’ve got more of anything, of course some of them are going to look like hipsters. And some of them are going to be going to library school because it’s the “in” thing to do. I’d love to see more library jobs in the past 10 years, but I guess that’s not as glamorous as an article about how hip people are.

    Monday, August 25, 2008 at 1:01 am | Permalink
  46. Bethany wrote:

    I go to libraries frequently, but it is less and less “fun” for me – I have seen “hip” librarians in the workplace (near San Francisco) and I have most definitely been shushed in a library. I’d love it if libraries were truly a place for the “hip” to hang out and not be shushed or made to feel bad for actually using the library, not just playing WOW or Second Life, but in my experience it just does not happen.

    Monday, August 25, 2008 at 1:03 am | Permalink
  47. Bitoy wrote:

    In the Philippines, male librarians are preferred by most employers. Males have more outputs in the job.

    Thursday, October 15, 2009 at 2:52 am | Permalink

5 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Karen Schneider calls out what’s lacking. It is, after all, the style section, and there’s a lot of concentration on cocktails, [...]

  2. [...] some others views of this article, check out Karen Schneider (yeah, where are those 50K library jobs in NYC?!?!?), Gothamist (you mean my kindergarten teacher [...]

  3. kendrak’s attack / attack of the hipster librarians. on Sunday, July 8, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    [...] stereotype of the typical librarian is on the way out (the uptight, quiet, shushing bunhead), as free range librarian points out the profession is still largely white and largely female. not much is changing on that [...]

  4. [...] am a little surprised by the twitter over the article (pun intended), although I suppose I shouldn’t be. While I will try to maintain, as [...]

  5. Hip Shushers? « bookish on Tuesday, July 17, 2007 at 10:50 am

    [...] they are still ‘hip.’  The commentary has ranged in tone from  deliciously droll  to acidic.  One blog that has a nice collection of links to several of these blog reactions is that of Eric [...]

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