Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More Librarian Misconceptions

"So...you're a librarian? Then you probably read a lot of books, huh? Right?"

Nope, not really. In my very first class in library school, the professor told us point blank, "If you want to become a librarian because you 'love to read' and think you'll be reading all day, then you better reconsider your choice of profession." 
She's a librarian and she's not old or wearing her hair in a bun, although she is wearing a cool Ewok hat.
Image via http://lookslikelibraryscience.com

These days, a librarian's job is largely technology and marketing-oriented. And a lot of what librarians have traditionally done when it comes to books - checking them out, selecting them for the library, etc. - is increasingly being automated or outsourced or done by paraprofessionals. Speaking on a personal level, I'm far too busy these days to pick up a book that's not a textbook. Between work, library school, volunteering at the library, and trying to maintain a semblance of a social life, I just don't have time to read for pleasure.

"I'm sure you read a lot" is just one of many misconceptions that a lot of people have about librarians. "Not all of us are book nerds," said Aimee Graham. "There's the art, culture, tech-y, and music nerds, too. Most of us have a specialty, while others are generalists. Like everyone else, we have our hobbies." Graham took up the task of "Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions" in a March 24, 2014, article for INALJ.com. Some of the other misconceptions about librarians that Graham succinctly addressed in her article are:

You need your master's to be a librarian?
Yes. In most positions (I have seen a few requiring a bachelor's and experience), an ALA-accredited master's degree is required. In some positions, two advanced degrees are required, all depending on the institution and subject of the position.

Why are so many librarians not from the area?
We are a pretty nomadic people. If you want to move up, that sometimes includes moving out. Jobs can be difficult to come by in the areas surrounding ALA-accredited schools, popular cities or rural areas, so be willing to relocate if you want to advance.

Aren't librarians old and grouchy, wearing cardigans and hair in a bun?
Sure, there are some still in existence, but the Hollywood stereotype is almost dead. A great deal of librarians today are younger, many with tattoos, piercings, and even multicolored hair and extremely outgoing personalities. But it depends on the environment in which we work, so it varies.

Don't librarians just stamp books?
Those duties are usually saved for student assistants or circulation staff, and very rarely will a physical stamp be used (a lot has gone electronic). We do a wealth of duties, ranging from reference and instruction, web design, webinars, professional development, etc. We are far more advanced than just stamping books (although there is nothing wrong with that duty in itself).

Stereotypes about who librarians are, what librarians look like, and what librarians do are amazingly persistent. But with her article for INALJ.com, Aimee Graham has done her part to help dispel old notions about an evolving profession. To read all 10 librarian misconceptions that Graham has debunked, see her INALJ.com article at THIS LINK.

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