Trying to change stereotypes is the new stereotype. It might even be the new black.
Several years ago, a librarian who really, really hates this blog and claims she never reads it despite the evidence that she clearly does made a call for more “diversity” in librarianship. If I recall correctly, her call was really for more homosexual librarians.
I don’t know if anyone has studied this, but I bet homosexuals are already represented in librarianship out of proportion to the general population. I know plenty of gay and lesbian librarians, and librarianship is a profession where gay and lesbian librarians are accepted for what they are, which is librarians.
Librarianship attracts a lot of frumpy introverts, but at least they’re not bigots.
In response to her call, I pointed out that with the huge proportion of middle-aged white women in librarianship, we needed a different sort of diversity. In short, librarianship needs more hot, straight guys.
If you don’t believe me, look around your library or at a library conference. Do you see a lot of hot, straight guys? Exactly.
But now, we have some, since several of them are represented in Men of the Stacks. I don’t think they’re all straight, and they’re not all necessarily “hot,” but they’ll do.
In case you missed the worldwide coverage in such authoritative news sources as the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, and the Oprah blog, Men of the Stacks is a male pin-up calendar full of librarians. They’re men. Some are in stacks, some are in slacks, and at least two are in their bathrooms. And the January Man in the Stacks has the hottest and the most amusing picture of the bunch.
The good news, besides some of the photos themselves, is that all the proceeds from the calendar are dedicated to the It Gets Better Project, designed to let bullied gay and lesbian teens know that there’s life after high school.
It’s a good project, and I think you’d have to be a pretty nasty human being to prefer homosexual teens commit suicide to trying to get them to feel better about their lives. Plus, it’s not something you’d expect a bunch of male librarians putting out a calendar to benefit. After all, they could have sent the money to ALA to help benefit Band Books Week.
Unfortunately, the calendar is doing something I expected as soon as I saw the website home page. It’s trying to change librarian stereotypes.
There is an entire population of professional librarians out there who disagree with the way the library profession is perceived in contemporary media outlets and in the historical consciousness of the American mind. Different people and different associations will use different means to try to change those perceptions. This is ours.
To that, I can only say, “yawn, what a pointless waste of time.” You’re not changing the stereotype of librarians at all. All anyone has to do is walk into a library and they’ll see that librarians don’t generally look like you.
Of course if people hung around libraries, they’d realize the traditional stereotype of a librarian is wrong. It’s not a bespectacled shusher in a bun. The stereotypical librarian is a middle-aged white woman in comfortable clothes and sensible shoes, a little overweight, with glasses and bad hair. If it is a male librarian, it’s going to be a male version of the female stereotype, except with more facial hair.
That’s the stereotype I use at ALA when my friends and I play “spot the librarian,” and I’m really good at that game.
Thus, I applaud anything emphasizing hot guys in librarianship, and anything that helps a good cause, but really, guys, you should have just put out the calendar and let it stand on its own.
Putting out a calendar like this and saying it’s trying to dispel librarian stereotypes? Why, that’s the most stereotypical thing of all.