the stereotype stereotype

in professional and personal settings, whenever i mention that i am a librarian, i’m usually met with comments such as “i can totally see you in that role” or “i thought librarians were old ladies who shush people”. other quips include “librarians are sexy” and “do you watch The Librarians“? (yes, i do). in other words, the image of the librarian runs the gamut thanks to popular culture.

what makes librarian stereotypes so fascinating? American Libraries Magazine examines the obsession with librarian stereotypes, beginning in the late 19th Century. the article delves into how librarianship initially began as a male-dominated profession, until around 1900 when women began to enter the workforce in larger numbers. from there, the role of the librarian became well-respected and a career which many found so rewarding that they stayed in their jobs well past retirement age (which could be the reason why new LIS grads, depending on their location, are having trouble landing their first post-grad positions). these days, the shushing-old-lady librarian figure is still around but it’s been joined with the sexy librarian, the superhero librarian, the tattooed librarian, the goth librarian (which is the category i tend to fall under), and countless others. but aside from their outward appearances, they hold a common bond by acting as gatekeepers to a world of information and knowledge.

the Nancy Pearl Librarian action figure, with amazing push-button shushing action!

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