Library On/Library Off

Nicolibrarian explores the secret life of information

Librarian Stereotypes

If there’s something librarians love, it’s knowing what the world thinks about us, keeping tabs on the stereotypes, and getting our nether-garments in a bunch about aforementioned opinions and images. I like to think of it as the library profession’s equivalent of ego searching, this fixation on perception. And I’ll admit I’m game for it – every month when I get my copy of American Libraries, I flip right to the How the World Sees Us section. After all, it is a fine line between navel-gazing and brand management, right?

So I was pleased to see this tweet, via a RT, yesterday:

@wawoodworth: Poll: Worst librarian stereotype. Go. (answer then RT question, please)

And I couldn’t help but be interested in what the replies were, and I can’t help but post them here. I ended up setting up a Twapper Keeper for these tweets, and have pasted the bulk of them below (with apologies and thanks to all users, the public nature of Twitter, and @wawoodworth for starting the thread):

HeidiSteiner: That we’re all shushers. Shush I do not.
ksattler: Shhh!
Joe_Librarian: 63 year old who’s never had sex or an email account
jaimebc: That all we care about is books (not tech literate)
jhardenbrook:  All we do all day long is check out books
agrundmann: That all we do is sit around and read books all day
uamslibrary: That there aren’t any young librarians or librarians of color
nicolibrarian: Old white woman who doesn’t like you or noise or computers.
carolbatt: Shhh! Be Quiet! (but some still do!)
jpetroroy: That we just read all day long.
lbgilbert: SHUSH!
thebrainlair: That we are always shushing children.
orireed: Brary Buns!!!!
bookmeme:  Specs and tweed skirt with horizontal teeth…
librarianbryan: That linux-induced white boy doesn’t know his urban fiction!
miss_print: librarian as crazy cat lady
subclassz: Female librarians r secretly sluts while male librarians r monks.
subclassz: Also librarians don’t have social skills b/c u can’t be social AND smart/organized
civillibrarian: Female?
TheLiB: All we do is read all day (thx for that Laura Bush).
bmljenny: Sexy librarian. Not bad, I just can’t live up to it.
lauramac95: Catalogers as nitpicky anal-retentive fussbudgets
mascher: Socially inept.
ultimatelibrarn: memorized the dewey decimal system
schmeeeb: Kleenex up the cardigan sleeve
LCPLWeb: You don’t LOOK like a librarian.
tmvogel: 1) Cats 2) All we do is read/surrounded by books
vonburkhardt: Umm…that they all wear prescription shoes?
LibrariNerd: That we’re quaking in fear because print is dead.
msjoanthomas: We wear comfortable shoes
kimberwimber: Cat lovers. I def prefer dogs!
janholmquist: People thinking their questions are stupid because ‘You know so much’
thepinakes: That all young librarians are hip and tattooed.
WWUBusLib: That we’re all prim old ladies who do nothing but shhh
jonbloy: Librarians go around shushing people.
RedheadFangirl: That I’m a “naughty librarian” & wear garters.
RedheadFangirl: Or that I’m a crocheting cat lady (true, but love rock, horror)
marissajeanine: That all librarians are old!!!

I’ll also indulge in confirming a stereotype by admitting I couldn’t help but want to classify and graph these tweets (yes, let the heckling begin – but I will have you know that Dorothy of Cat and Girl also enjoys recreational data visualization, so I am not the only one):

Perception, bar-graph-style

Perception, bar-graph-style *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

Tweets, Charlotte's-Web-Style (i.e. "Hey, librarians! You're a shushing, dowdy bunch of oldsters!" *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

At least it is a fun slide! *Dowdiness including all things physical appearance, including cardigans and tweed. +Ineptitude including fussbudgetiness

And for those of you who *still* haven’t had your RDA of nerd, here’s my spreadsheet for coding the tweets. Really, people. Get a life.

Written by nicolibrarian

March 18, 2010 at 6:33 am

4 Responses

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  1. The one I don’t get is being “too smart”. Girl, I WISH I was too smart.

    DazzlingRayn

    March 18, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    • Methinks the original twitter-er was talking about the general public perception of smartness. You know, it’s not about how smart you ARE, but rather how smart people THINK you are. And I think you’re smart. ‘Aint nobody that funny who’s not at least a little smarty.

      nicolibrarian

      March 18, 2010 at 6:11 pm

  2. Well if people would just be quiet!

    Jessica Smith

    March 18, 2010 at 6:33 pm


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