Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Let's talk librarianship

"Will you play sexy librarian with me?"

I've heard this a number of times before. Sometimes jokingly, sometimes seriously. Being a librarian runs the weird spectrum of either being a stuffy, angry old lady with a severe bun and severer glasses to being super-sexy with a half open button down and and a short, super tight pencil skirt. Compare these two images, for example.

Kill me now, please.

I didn't get into librarianship because I was a grump old coot or a sex bomb. People don't (usually) pick their life careers based on how they look or want to look to others. But there's no other profession, I think, that has the level of physical stereotyping that librarianship does. I don't know about you, but when I was young, I never encountered either of the librarians above. My first librarian was a 30something African-American woman with short hair who wore khakis. My second librarian was a grumpy old man, a rarity in the field. I work in a public library now, which is what the average person thinks of when he or she hears "librarian", and my coworkers now run the sheer gamut, though they are mostly women, and a solid 80% of them don't wear pencil skirts or buns.

I've never introduced myself as a librarian: I'm not really officially one until December 16th, and I hate telling people I'm something I'm not, even though most people look at all library employees the same way. We're all librarians, from the pages who shelve the books to the head of HR to the systems department, who may not even know how to work our staff client that handles everything from searching for books to cataloging and patron information (our ILS, for those of us who really are librarians). We're all librarians, even though we're not, and we're crammed into these two stereotypes, even though we're not.

I don't generally blog my outfits as a librarian and how a librarian dresses, but just how I dress on a day to day basis. Most of these outfits are for work, of course, but I also write about what I wear to concerts and weddings. I am a librarian at neither of those things. But aren't we all defined by what we do? When someone says "tell me about yourself" or "who are you", don't you first explain your job? And at heart, I am a librarian. I just wish that didn't mean that I simultaneously dragged "sexy" and "grumpy" behind me like a ball and chain.

For a view of the actual broad range of librarian style, take a look at Amber's Check Us Out linkup from Friday. Screw buns and pencil skirts!

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