Sunday’s New York Times ran a piece by reporter Kara Jesella profiling the new wave of librarians titled "A Hipper Crowd of Shushers." Oy! It’s a complimentary piece, but while saying that today’s young librarians are a far cry from the bad clichè of the spinsterish shawl-clad harridan lacking only a pointy hat to be a witch, this profile presents a social group of librarians dubbed the "Desk Set" as a bunch of nerdzillas who guzzle drinks with dumb names in Brooklyn dives.
While its refreshing to see anything that portrays librarians in a positive light, especially newbies, and doubly especially in a publication with the Times’ reach, this portrait of fresh-minted MLSers as tech geeks is just as oppressive and, quite frankly, dated as the shushing harridan thing. So they’re MySpace geeks instead of book geeks. Yeah, that’s a real improvement. And librarians using the internet and other emerging electronic resources isn’t new, you’ve been cutting edge since the start back when the net was called the information superhighway (yikes, remember that one!). Also, what profession requiring a master’s degree doesn’t use these resources on a daily basis?
Jesella states that "many young librarians and library professors said that the work is no longer just about books but also about organizing and connecting people with information, including music and movies." First, when was it ever "just about books" and, second, music and movies have been in libraries for a hell of a long time. Has Jesella actually ever been to a library?
I shouldn’t be so hard on this reporter. I’m glad they think librarians are hip and cool and all that stuff we already know, but it seems this piece is just trading one clichè for another.