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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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