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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Celebrities in our Midst

Apparently, librarianship has “social media celebrities,” and one library-related blogger has kindly linked to a blog post that helps social media “celebrities” and the companies they work for realize they need each other. It’s introduced: “Read it if you’ve got a Facebook star or celebrity blogger on staff (and I know many library bloggers who have this status in our field – You know who you are).” Wink, wink!

Would anybody think it mean of me to say that this is utterly ridiculous? However, it’s a great reminder that many in our profession believe that there are celebrity librarians and continue to think libraries have something in common with profit-making businesses.

First of all, librarianship doesn’t have social media “celebrities.” Pick any supposedly well known “Facebook star” or “celebrity blogger,” and you can be pretty sure that person is well known strictly within a smallish subset of one profession. After all, if most librarians don’t read blogs on even a weekly basis, then no celebrity blogger can be known to most of them, and these alleged celebrities are rarely known outside the profession.

These so-called celebrities usually aren’t even celebrities in their own minds, even most of the ones who seem full of themselves. If they were real celebrities, people would be curious about their private lives and they’d never be able to move around a conference without being thronged with fans. I’m the only librarian blogger whose private life anyone seems to care about, and I maintain my privacy to avoid the library paparazzi.

Celebrities, as former Librarian of Congress Daniel Boorstin once wrote, are known for their well-knownness. Do we know of any librarians like that?

The other ridiculous part is the assumption that libraries are akin to businesses. A blogger could obviously reveal private information or make fun of library patrons (who fortunately don’t read librarian blogs, anyway) But do these “celebrity tendencies” sound like anything a librarian “Facebook star” or “celebrity blogger” could do?:

#1: The Power Player

Your celebrity employee develops a following that is more loyal to him or her than to your brand, products or services and attempts to wield that power to make changes the company doesn’t want to make.

#4: The Free Agent

Your celebrity employee decides to leave the company for a new job and take his or her following along.

And why not? It seems pretty obvious to me. Individual libraries don’t have a “brand,” and they’re not competing with each other. Far from it. Thus, it’s not possible for library patrons (who some librarians liken to “customers”) to develop more loyalty to a “celebrity” than to the library.

First, they probably don’t know who the person is in the first place, and second, well, I’m not sure I even need to second. The whole concept is ridiculous.

And what librarian “celebrity” could be a “Free Agent”? In the context of actual social media celebrities blogging and tweeting for competitive companies, this makes some sense. But with libraries, it’s nonsense. Pick any librarian “celebrity” you want, if you think such exist. Could that person move on to another job and have anyone follow? Would anyone even stop using the library? Of course not.

Okay, that’s about the end of the astonished commentary. Since “celebrity” librarians are known to only a subset of the profession, rather than to the library “customers” themselves, and since libraries aren’t in competition with each other such “customers” couldn’t follow a celebrity librarian even if there were one, this advice passed onto librarians is unnecessary.

I could also add that unless some librarian “social media celebrity” could make a living from social media, they’re much more dependent upon their libraries than their libraries are upon them. If they’re such divas they don’t do their jobs, get rid of them. It shouldn’t be hard to reap the whirlwind of two dozen bloggers and tweeters who (maybe) have a “following” of 2,000 librarians who have absolutely no power to influence anyone with any power.

Celebrity, indeed.

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Comments

  1. Real Librarian says:

    God Bless you AL!!

    You are the voice of our profession!

    The Number One Celebrity Library Blogger!!!!!

  2. Bruce Campbell says:

    Nancy Pearl is the only one that comes to mind.

    The term “social media celebrity” is an oxymoron. Celebrities were distinguished by appearance in film or television (exclusive venues). ANYONE can appear on facebook/myspace/twitter so the exclusiveness is gone. With the internet/social media…everyone thinks they are a celebrity now.

    Librarians should stick to serving customers and not entertain the idea of celebrity. It’s embarrassing to the profession.

  3. Real Librarian says:

    Sorry Bruce, we NEED celebrities like the AL to get the true word out there.

    Go get ‘em tiger!!!!

  4. Library Paparazzo says:

    OMG was that the real “Bruce Campbell” that commented.

  5. Real Librarian says:

    Yes, it was a real “Bruce Campbell” that posted.

    Sadly, this one doesn’t come with a boomstick.

  6. Bibliotecher says:

    “Celebrity librarian,” lol, that’s a great oxymoron.

    Yeah, I don’t think Nancy Pearl makes the cut. A celebrity would be well-known outside of their sphere of influence.

    Ben Franklin FTW!

    Damn, so my nonexistent blog readership-base isn’t going to give me any extra leverage when I’m being head-hunted by the top Fortune 500 Libraries??
    Thankfully, I’ll have my Rookie of the Year-status to fall back on.

  7. Andrew says:

    I don’t think even Nancy Pearl gets a pass as a celebrity librarian. I’m in the profession and all I know is that she’s the librarian who appeared as an action figure Fellow MLS students and librarians lauded her celebrity precisely because of said action figure. It’s all so much circular reasoning.

    Three years later and I still don’t know anything about her other than the action figure nonsense, and I can guarantee the general public knows even less.

  8. Bruce Campbell says:

    What can I say? We’ve already shot most of the episodes of Burn Unit and Sam Raimi stopped calling a while back. So I’m on the internets.

    I do what I can to bolster the hits of AL’s blog.

    I can tweet about Nancy Pearl, but I doubt that will give her any recognition.

  9. Real Librarian says:

    If the AL would step out of the shadows, we would have our celebrity.

    Put your face out there and let your public adore you.

    You are the true embodiment of what the library profession is all about.

  10. Eric Hellman says:

    If only there was a library equivalent of deploying the emergency slide.

  11. joneser says:

    It’s nice to know that our “library-related blogger” is not just “capable” but is “ably capable”. And “uniquely positioned” too – does that mean he’s flexible?

    I would have difficulty just being in the same room with such a paragon. I’m not sure I’m worthy.

  12. Marcus says:

    The only social media librarian celebrity I know is the library ninja from the Youtube video. And the ugly chick librarian from the “blond in the library” video.

  13. bibliona says:

    I can’t believe there are librarians out there who aren’t familiar with Nancy Pearl! She wrote the “Now Read This” series and the “Book Lust” series, which are Readers Advisory essentials.

    She also came up with the “Rule of 50,” which has liberated people from feeling obligated to finish what they start. http://nancypearlbooks.wordpress.com/pearlisms/. There are people in my reading group who have taken that rule to heart, and thank her every time they put down a book that doesn’t grab them.