“You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!”

What? Only 10? (From http://www.librarian-image.net/)

What? Only 10? (From http://www.librarian-image.net/)

Yesterday I attended a resource fair for incoming students.  While manning my booth, I greeted people who walked by, trying to make the Library seem like a great place to visit and hopefully utilize over the next four years of their college experience.  A few people seemed genuinely interested, but one in particular jived with me and my message.  In fact, this new student told me, and I quote, “It’s a good thing they [the library] sent you here; you don’t look like a librarian, you look like a student.”

As petty as it now sounds, I took it as a compliment. It seems that even for the class of 2017, “librarian” means old, stuffy, and out of touch. While of course it means a variety of characteristics – because all librarians are unique, awesome snowflakes – I couldn’t help but thank the kid for insinuating that I’m young, friendly and do not smell like I own ten cats.  I mean, that’s what he meant, right?  How strange must his high school library experience must have been, or how many times must he have seen The Music Man, for him to point out how much I stick out in my line of work?  I smiled and nodded at him, but in hindsight I wish I would have asked him what his frame of reference was, to whom was he comparing me, and oh bee tee dubs, mind if I blog about this?

This line of thought makes me want to check out “You Don’t Look Like a Librarian: Shattering Stereotypes and Creating Positive New Images in the Internet Age” by Ruth Kneale.  Has anyone read it?  I feel like I need to commiserate with others on this point.

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5 thoughts on ““You Don’t Look Like a Librarian!”

  1. The flipside is, of course, when college students come up to the Reference Desk, see you there, and the exchange goes something like this:
    “I need to talk to a librarian.”
    “I’m a librarian. How can I help you?”
    “No, I mean a REAL librarian.”
    (SIGH.)
    My usual response to exchanges like this — despite my urge to be all snarky — is to smile even wider and say, “Yep, still me. How can I help you?”
    This usually results in rapid eye-blinking and an “Oh. Ok.”
    😉

  2. The always popular comment about libraries losing their relevancy because of the internet is depressing. “No. Libraries and librarians are still very important especially with so much information available 24/7.” I’m also a fan of the smile and nod (huge inward sigh).

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