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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Debunk the Stereo-typical "Marian the Librarian"

What I want to discuss today is a fellow blogger and librarian, Ingrid Abrams--The Magpie Librarian.

Recently, she was featured in a Slate.com article titled, "This is What a Librarian Looks Like."

http://magpielibrarian.wordpress.com/2014/02/13/slates-this-is-what-a-librarian-looks-like-this-is-why-we-cant-have-nice-things/

Why this article is important to me (and all librarians) is because often times, librarians are stereotyped. I can't count the number of times folks look at me bewildered when I say, "I'm a librarian." It's like they're in disbelief that I am. Why? "Where's the disillusionment coming from?" is what I want to ask.

So this insightful article about the diversity of librarians truly validated my belief: not all librarians are Caucasian ladies with glasses and prudent behavior.

Kyle Cassidy, photographer and Slate.com contributing writer, decided at ALA's Mid-winter Conference to feature the wonderful, complex and diverse faces of librarians. Initially, he only featured Ingrid Abrams, and boy was there back-lash. She received spiteful comments regarding her appearance. Read her blog...she handled it beautifully. Here's a picture of Ingrid:



[Cassidy believes] The result is a celebration of the diversity in the librarian community. “I realized I had a stereotype in my mind of what a librarian looked like, which is one of the reasons I wanted to do this project. Whenever I think something is true, I'm often wrong,” Cassidy said. “I tend to think of librarians as the ones I know from my public library and from school. But there are librarians who are researchers and archivists doing extraordinarily technical work. There are librarians who work in specialized fields who have to know about archaeology, for example, or medicine or research science. The field was broader than I had gone in there thinking.”

Abrams said via email. “The truth is, we're a variety of ages. We're every race, ethnicity and religious background imaginable. We can be the type who wears a suit and tie every day or someone like me, who has pink hair and dresses in bright colors. Not that any part of how we look really matters, but if the only librarian you've ever seen is the librarian ghost from the first scene of Ghostbusters,(movie, 1984) I assure you we're a really dedicated and friendly bunch.”


And this is exactly how I feel. Granted, Ingrid's a public librarian (and awesome with her innovative ideas--see her Valentine's Day Dance for her kiddos), but what matters is not the outward appearance of the librarian. It's the "content of their character" (MLK,Jr), the expertise in their skillset and the service they offer to equally diverse seekers of knowledge. As librarians, we're coached on diversity and assisting all types of learners (ELLs, Advanced Learners, Special Needs, etc.). Yet, what this article affirms is that there needs to be a stereo-type blasting, Equal Opportunity Emergence, and rainbow accepted reflection in the faces of our librarians. Here's another look at how diverse our librarian's are: http://lookslikelibraryscience.com/

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