Apr 192014

I wear many hats in my professional life, one of which finds me plugging away at my local library four days a week as a Library Specialist. What is a Library Specialist? Well, it’s not a Librarian (I don’t have a MLS degree), but it’s someone who has worked up the food chain a bit, who has knowledge that’s devoted to a specific department. In my case, that knowledge goes into promoting the library, writing press releases, contacting authors, etc.

Anyway, as a library employee, I take a certain umbrage when I see the stereotypical depictions of librarians in movies and on TV. So, for National Library Week, I compiled a little list of contemporary librarians in fiction that buck the trend of shy, scared wallflowers, and the good folks at BuzzFeed Books were kind enough to publish it. It is a tad silly, yes, but the writers I included are worth a look.

Here’s a bit of my intro:

Though the librarian stereotype continues to thrive in television and film, it is thankfully shattered in the world of literature. Rather than offering up dry, buttoned-up types (or their opposite: the sex-crazed nymphomaniac hiding behind a pair of horn-rimmed glasses), many contemporary writers attach the occupation to immensely complicated characters forced to confront their own morals.

You can find the full list of librarians here.

— Benjamin Woodard

  4 Responses to “Modern Literary Librarians in Contemporary Literature”

  1. Great list! Also, several librarians in Jim Krusoe’s Parsifal.

  2. Public Libraries in the U.S. have changed just as much as society itself. For some reason, the stereotype persists but is sorely outdated. For better or worse, libraries are now community centers, information centers, WiFi connections, education centers, day care centers, technology flash points, celebration platforms, meeting centers and teen hangouts among avenues for any number of other child, teen and adult programs that you can imagine. Though I don’t have an MLS degree either, I consider my self a librarian in my second career. My official title is Library Clerk but I work with all the above plus perform janitorial duties and act as policeman in lieu of the real thing. I’ve had to break up fights (among adults) kick out teens, kick out pre-teens, clean up puke and other unmentionable chores taking place in the lavatories. Oh, yeah, I also help people make resumes, fill out applications, access tax forms, create numerous types of word processing templates, create email accounts and explain answers to all sorts of computer related questions. Plus, of course, I handle all the regular circulation duties – checking items in and out, creating new accounts, handling fines etc., etc. all the while giving advice on authors and searching and finding, searching more and finding better, blah, blah blah. I also moderate a book club on International Fiction that meets once a month. Along with laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVDs and CDs I do, from time to time, check out books to patrons. Can you believe that? People still check out hardbacks and paperbacks! That’s only about half the stuff a Librarian does these days in Public Libraries. I have not read any of the works cited, but Mr. Woodard is certainly on the right track in attempting to explode the stereotype of the current day librarian. Thanks for the article.

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