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Image of librarians

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Stereotypes of librarians have persisted in popular culture. The typical image is that of an asexual frumpy female wearing glasses and her hair up in a bun. She is often seen shushing patrons or otherwise acting grumpy.

As with many stereotypes of particular professions, there may be a kernel of truth to them. People who become librarians certainly appear to possess certain traits much more frequently than the general populace. (Say, a strong sense of tidiness or a tendency to be introverted, for the sake of example.) It is also still a predominately feminine and greying profession, despite perennially optimistic employment outlooks for younger librarians.

Until such characteristics are honestly addressed, it is difficult to combat the negative image of librarians in entertainment media and the stereotypes that they reinforce. Many people also appear to have had or have heard about an experience with "The Worst Librarian Ever," suggesting that greater vigilance is needed to guard against such problems as "fear of reference" and a misunderstanding about the education, training, and job duties of present-day librarians.

In 2003 Nancy Pearl cashed in on the librarian stereotype by lending her image to the Librarian Action Figure, a true-to-life rendition of a dorky-looking librarian, complete with "push-button shushing action." Librarians had mixed reactions to the product. In contrast, the media has recently latched on to running stories about librarians who are polar opposites of the typical librarian stereotype (such as The Modified Librarian), or what Fiona Bradley called the "the anti-stereotype stereotype" of librarians.

External links[edit]

  • Librarians: We're Not What You Think Essay and online exhibit of images of librarians in television, movies, and advertisements.
  • Open Directory Project category Sites discussing the status, image, and portrayal of librarians.
  • You don't look like a librarian! A site devoted to the perception of librarians in the Internet Age.