Real librarians

We all know librarians hate stereotypes of librarians, which is why some are compelled to indelibly ink their skin and post public pictures of themselves or anonymously tell the world that they don’t like library patrons.
I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove with this, since basically no one but librarians cares about librarian stereotypes, and all the tattoos in the world won’t change anyone’s opinion.

– This totally, read it all

For the last x many years so many in the library profession have been whining about the ‘librarian stereotype’ of the severe older lady, the shoosher, the hairbunned spinster, the attractive man in tweed, etc. that was presented in the media.

It was not a stereotype that ever really connected with the public because they actually deal with librarians in all their diversity.

But some librarians, they take it all so seriously.

In recent years there has been elicited huge joy at the number of librarians who don’t fit the stereotype, through their hair, clothing, tattoos, makeup, muscles etc.

Doing this is all very well, but is problematic as it is merely based on how people look and not how they perform or are perceived. Of course, everyone should dress how they want, but this is just personal choice and shouldn’t be linked to the profession as a whole.

How about we develop a stereotype for librarians as professional, focussed, knowledgeable, disciplined, technology capable etc. ?

This month Incite is asking for contributions for its Jan/Feb 2014 issue thus:

do you know a hipster librarian?

We’re looking for photos, stories, out

of the box email addresses and zany

twitter hashtags, tattoos, ukuleles,

and all that creative energy. We want

to track it down and give it some


I just hope none are found.


Morrissey and libraries

Morrissey in Manchester Central Library . Photographer Tom Sheehan

Morrissey in Manchester Central Library. Photographer Tom Sheehan, 1984

After reading Morrissey’s long awaited Autobiography, I am a little sad to report that there is not much said of libraries nor the role they have played in his life and art. There are yet two mentions, but no real exposition. In past interviews, Morrissey has mentioned that his mother (Elizabeth Dwyer) was an Assistant Librarian but there is no discussion of this in the book.

“Fields are places in books, and books are placed in libraries.” p. 3

“The new Hulme Library is where Jackie [Morrissey’s sister] and I prowl each day once St Wilfred’s [Morrissey’s school] pulley raises its draw-briddge, and books transport the mind until Mother appears to cart us homewards. Around the flashy library, the cobbled streets of terraced houses are dark cabins with their lights out, with windows like eyes facing downward, awaiting the chop.” p.22

from, Morrissey. (2013). Autobiography. ISBN: 9780141394817 0141394811

On Greer

On hearing that Germaine Greer easily Australia’s greatest writer is providing (for a modest sum – which she in turn is giving to charity) her archival papers to the University of Melbourne archive. I find it sufficient reason to provide a couple of quotes, neither of which are particularly true…

Greer – A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.

Susan Ryan on Greer – Women who were housewives, who were pretty miserable … felt inspired by her book [The Female Eunuch] and their life changed. They didn’t become megastars, but they became a librarian or something. 

Why such an important national figure’s archival collection is not going to the National Library is obvious, but why is that so – well, never mind, never mind.

Neil Gaiman speech

“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we’ve moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That’s about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.”

Neil Gaiman speech to the Reading Agency – Read more at The Guardian