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Day 7 of Blog every day in June 2012

This is what a Librarian looks like 

Not so long ago, ”breaking stereotypes” was a major trend in library conferences.  The misconception that female librarians wore glasses, their hair in a bun and the twinset and pearls was prevalent.  I’m guilty of 2/4 of those.

One night many years ago I was out to dinner with a friend and her workmates.  As usually happens when faced with people you’ve never met before conversation turns to “what do you do for a living?”  Rather than say straight out, I named some of the tasks librarians do – customer service, data entry, records management, website work etc, mentioned I worked in local government and asked them to guess. 

Conversation strayed but eventually came back to that question again.  So I again asked them to guess. Teacher? Typist? PA? No (although that was my first profession). No. And no.
When I told them I was a librarian the table went quiet.  Eventually, someone said “I didn’t want to say that ‘cos I thought it might offend you”. What part of my job would I be offended at?
I like the fact that the perception of library staff has changed over the last few years.  What I love even more is that fact that many of us are proud about what we do.  Librarianship as a career is as varied as the people who work in the industry.

To see the faces of our industry today – internationally – take a look at This is what a librarian looks like  Each image has a story behind it, and shows how diverse out industry workers are.


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LvR said...

What does a Library person look like! I went to the V music festival a few years ago and we decided to stay the night in an otel in Perth. Later in the evening we were at the hotel enjoying a glass of wine on a balmy night in the front alfresco section of the bar when musicians started to filter out. As the nature of society goes we got chatting to these visitors to our state and I was talking to Josh Homme (lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age)and having a friendly banter about littering of all things because he threw some paper on the ground and we were giving him a guilt trip about it, all friendly though, when three young woman came up to ask for a photo with him. Josh kindly obliged but left the bar shortly after. The 3 young woman stayed and engaged my wife and I in conversation. It went roughly like this.
"How do you know Josh Homme?"

"I don't we just met him tonight."

"Oh sure. Come on how do you know him?"

"Seriously we don't."

With a look of frustration she says "well what do you do?"

"I'm a librarian."

"No you're not what do you do?"

My turn for the frustration ... "I design album cover."

"Oh really!! what have you designed?"

Time for fast thinking ... "You know that album cover for album Nevermind? The one with the baby swimming under water."


"That's not the Nevermind album" says the spokeswoman for the three, "The In Utero album.. has the baby on the cover."

"I told you .. I am a Librarian"