Oh the cliche....

posted Jan 7, 2012, 2:13 PM by jj pionke
Last semester when I was working on the plagiarism powerpoint for SI-641: Information Literacy, I used an image of a stereotypical librarian - a woman, her hair in a bun, older, holding a book in front of a bookcase.  The professor reprimand is too strong a word here but it'll do, for using the picture and asked that I change it.  I did of course but it's been gnawing at me a bit.  Not that she asked me to change it, why I chose the picture in the first place.  

In my past life, I've taught about stereotypes and perceptions often.  We know that stereotypes and cliches are there for a reason and that is especially true of librarianship.  Most of the people who work in libraries, no matter what kind, are women.  I'm enrolled in SI-647: Reference and User Services, a required course, and there is not a single male in the class.  I've had classes with gender disparity before - I usually only have one or two guys who take Women and Creativity (a humanities course).  Still, part of me likes the cliche of the picture I chose.  I will never have a bun in my hair because I keep it almost crew cut short, but I like the idea of having funky glasses, and learning some sort of fiber art, and damnit, I want my library to have a resident cat!  All that is not to say that I should be locked into those cliches.  I shouldn't and knowing myself, I won't.

I can understand the teacher's concern.  I know that people see librarians as not real professionals and that the jobs that are in librarianship are "easy".  That is so far from the truth I don't even know how to articulate it properly. It makes me sad to see communities closing the doors on their libraries or firing their librarians and going to an all volunteer library which yay, the library is open, but we all know the services that were provided by those paid professionals are now gone in that situation.  This is totally another post, but at any rate, cliches might be there for a reason and they might exist because they are some level true, but they don't always have to be true and honestly, just because I want funky glasses and my library to have a cat doesn't mean I still can't create innovate and amazing programs and services that are cutting edge.