Zombie Librarian

Two Halloweens ago I dressed up as a zombie librarian.  Not only did I win my library’s first annual Halloween costume contest, but my blood-splattered, Goodwill duds directly coincided with an exhibit I curated called “Zombies in Literature and Film.”  Best.  Halloween.  Ever.

Despite its advances, librarianship is seen as an old-fashioned profession.  Librarians work with books, obvs, and books are on their way out.  What young person in their right mind would ever want to become associated with such an old job?  Taking that into account, my outfit is not only a nod to the stereotypical old-lady librarian, but also a nod to old-fashioned zombies ala the original Night of the Living Dead.  Just as librarians have changed in the wake of technological advances such as the Internet and Web 2.0, zombies have certainly changed.  Instead of slowly shambling, mindless hunks of decaying flesh, the virus-infected rage zombies of today’s films and TV shows run!  They use tools!  They die and then come back as zombies no matter what omg.  In the 21st century, we tend to prefer our zombies somewhat less dumb and certainly more difficult to kill.  So why then do we continue to think of our librarians as ol’ bitties from the 60s, resistant to change?

Did I just equate librarians to zombies?  Yes.  Yes, I did.

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Who/what/why am I?

Neil Gaiman quote

I’m a librarian.  I work in a library.  I wear glasses.  I read often, and for pleasure.  I drink tea.  I enjoy research and other academic pursuits.

As many students will attest, most research begins with Wikipedia.  According to the almighty W, “Stereotypes of librarians in popular culture are frequently negative: librarians are portrayed as puritanical, punitive, unattractive, and introverted if female, or timid, unattractive, and effeminate if male.” The librarians in popular culture article notes that librarians in film are “often portrayed as meek, timid, and unassertive in nature.”  They’re spinsters, eggheads, and recluses.  What a sad, pitiful existence these librarians keep.

So what does this umbrella of (mostly negative) connotations  mean to me, a self-professed non-stereotypical librarian?  Mostly it amuses me.  Yes, I’m a librarian — but I’m young!  Yes, I work in a library — but I’m studying web design and Web 2.0 applications!  And yes, I wear glasses, drink tea, and read for pleasure — but I also curse, do yoga, and read comic books.  I also edit Wikipedia.

The librarian field has been evolving for the past two decades.  Rather than ruling the roost of dusty tomes, librarians navigate the information highway that is the internet.  We are male, female, young, old, gay, straight, tattooed, be-spectacled — you name it.  Above all, we value knowledge and the passing of knowledge from one person to another.

I am not a stereotype, but some stereotypes are built upon truth.