Friday, 25 May 2007

Librarians watching librarians: our image again

Rebecca has pointed out the ABC website which provides information about the forthcoming ABC comedy, The Librarians. Take a quick look. "The Librarians" will have an impact on how people see us, and already librarians of my acquaintance are looking definitely askance. Others are embracing the idea - some people at the ALIA Library Week gig last night were suggesting we have a celebration on the set.

On the other hand an ALIA newsletter suggests " With a plot like that, the series seems set to tackle some outdated librarian stereotypes. Why not break some of these stereotypes by joining other ALIA groups in planning big screen viewings in local pubs."

"It seems our colleagues are a little worried about the harm the series might do to our image", Rebecca suggests. "Perhaps a nice blog post about it will calm their nerves?" I doubt that, Rebecca.

Unfortunately we librarians are victims of stereotypes which do not serve our interests well. But are we victims? Rebecca suggests that the ABC wouldn't have such a marvellously comic stereotype to work with if some librarians didn't insist on fitting it so well.

Kevin Dudeney, whose blog is linked from this one, has had a few posts lately about Youtube offerings regarding librarians, and I am afraid that they don't offer much comfort. Their main value is to those seeking to define the stereotypes more definitively. There are plenty of short videos shot with backdrops of books arranged on shelves, of standard library circulation operations, and of librarians behind desks. In the library where I work, however, only about 15% of customer document uses (that is, the ones we can count) are loans of physical items such as books and DVDs. Most of the rest are digital and online.

Have a look at The Angry Librarian from tv12673 on Youtube - just do a title search. It is wonderful. It is clear that the librarian has much more of a problem than the customer, and it is great the way the librarian's evident problems build through the short video. Too many of us are more than a little worried, but we do need to look at ourselves, too.

One thought is that we might try to define and detail the stereotypes a bit. Lets talk about them. And see if we can find some stereotypes we like and live them. Some of the new library stereotypes which have been promoted have lacked some credibility, to my mind. What would be credible, and helpful? What do people have in mind when they say, as they quite often do: "I think we need a librarian for this job?"

Who is interested in joining yet another ALIA group, Friends of Library Stereotypes?


Kathryn Greenhill said...

I held as session about YouTube and Libraries for our Emerging Technology Group.

There are many non-stereotypical clips of librarians on the wiki I made for it, YouTube and Libraries

Particularly of note are the "Librarian's 2.0 Manifesto" , "Ray of Light", "Get it Loud in Libraries" and "Library Lover's Day". We're getting there.

Anonymous said...

Does the profession attract certain personality types? The "Library Mistress" blogg has listed some articles that explore this issue:

There is a great line in the teen flick "Mean Girls" (2004): "I'm not like other moms, I'm a cool mom." Some times I find myself saying similiar things. "I'm not like other librarians, I'm a cool librarian."