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Librarians no longer wear their hair in a bun: SLA candidates address misperceptions of info pros

Today I watched the videos on YouTube of candidates for SLA offices and director addressing the question, "If you
could change one misperception about librarians and information professionals,
what would it be?".
As I listened to the candidates outlining their least favourite
stereotypes I was nodding my head in rueful recognition. As a librarian myself,
they were all misperceptions I’d encountered – things like all librarians love
books and reading is their favourite pastime, librarians are boring and sit
around with a bunch of dusty books all day,  librarians are dowdy, old-fashioned, out of
touch and uncool. My all time favourite, the shocked “but you don’t look like a
librarian!” when someone encounters an information professional with style and
attitude was also mentioned.

I was impressed
though with the energy and passion with which the candidates rebutted the
misperceptions. I think Cynthia Barrancotto summed it up most neatly by saying
“We are much more than you think we are”. Her point was borne out by many of
the other candidates who highlighted the transferable skills of librarians that
could be used to help people in many different situations, that librarians are
at the forefront of embracing new technology, that we are dynamic, data savvy,
cerebral information experts, technically-skilled, progressive, innovative
thinkers, who can put people together with information.

While we within the
profession know our own value, is this filtering through to the wider world?
Are perceptions changing?

 

5 comments to this post

  •  :  Fiona, thanks for posting about these videos on your blog, great to see a new blog on the block as it were! I'm really impressed by these videos, good to see colleagues standing up and telling the world that actually Librarians don't wear their hair in buns and yes we might be interested in books but we don't spend every waking minute looking at them. I especially like the video about Librarians no longer being defined as "being in a Library" and that "we can help" this is so true. Unfortunately in terms of the wider perception of Librarians I think it is an extremely well rooted perception and will take a lot of work by us the profession to move away from it, but we will have to wait and see!
  •  :  I once remember being a a rockabilly weekender (for I am a rockabilly) and a passing acquintance told me I looked like a librarian. My husband cracked up at this point and I had to explain to my acquintance that I was in fact a librarian. I was wearing capri pants, a turtle neck sweater and a pair of penny type loafers and had my hair in a bob. Ok, so I was wearing glasses but what the ....... Also, recently at another rockabilly weekender, I was trying out a few deadstock glasses. I turned to a friend and asked if the pair I had on made me look like a librarian. Her reaction was "why would they..its not as if you ARE a librarian". I've known her for around 7 years...what did she think I did for a living, but then again "Information Officer" may of misled her! P.S I do wear my hair in a bun and my new 50's glasses probably do make me look like a librarian!
  •  :  I think this blog is a great new idea and will certainly keep tuning into it. Thanks, Fiona. I think I surprised the interviewing panel once when I mentioned in passing that I had worked as a labourer on a building site in Birmingham. I got the job, and a year or two later discovered that this throwaway remark helped get me it. Apparently they were so surprised by this 'untypical' librarian that it tipped the balance in my favour.
  •  :  Glad to hear you like the new blog. I do sometimes think that as a profession we worry too much about how we are perceived and it's all so much navel gazing. However, when you think about the wider implications in terms of funding, provision and use of services, job security and, last but not least, pay it is important. Very funny though that Chris got his job though because of his "untypical" experience!
  •  :  Reminds me of many years ago I was at a conference abroad, where, to be nice to me (virtually the only native English speaker present) it was run in English. Many of the speakers had difficulty with English. Anyway, this one speaker for whom English was not her native language, talking about the steretype for librarians, said, very slowly and clearly "Of course, we all know that librarians do not all have their hair in a bum." She was a bit put out when I burst out laughing. I didn't feel able to explain why I had started laughing.

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