I expected it in Brooklyn, and even in California, but I never expected hip, stereotype shattering librarians to finally arrive in Minnesota, even if they’re not really librarians.
This article has to be the most painful example of the hip librarian genre that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen them all. It profiles a number of library workers who all seem perfectly nice and manages to induce cringes with just about every line.
Like a number of these articles, it exposes as much about the prejudices and ignorance of the writer as it does information about the subject.
Even the headline is misleading: “Moorhead’s new generation breaking librarian stereotype.”
The main problem with the headline is that the people being profiled aren’t librarians, as the writer admits while continuing to call them librarians. What, weren’t there any actual professional librarians “breaking stereotypes”?
One of the profiled library workers is supposedly “one of a handful of 20-somethings working at the library who are anything but the typical gray-haired, bespectacled, patron-shushing librarians – although, admittedly, several of them have the type of dark-framed glasses that might suggest such a future of shushing.”
There’s a shift in adjective here. Before, the “librarians” were breaking “stereotypes,” but here we are told that a group of 20-somethings are anything but “typical” librarians – gray-haired, bespectacled, and shushing. So this is now typical, not stereotypical?
Well, it would be news if 20-something women had a lot of gray hair, so that’s hardly surprising. But when was the last time you heard a librarian shushing anyone? Why not come out and admit that you have no idea what goes on in libraries these days?
And what’s with the obsession with “dark-framed glasses”? How would that suggest a future of shushing, except in the fantasies of the writer? Get a load of this:
“She removed her dark-framed glasses and shook her hair from its bun, transforming herself from mere librarian to sexy goddess. I flinched slightly and began to protest as she moved her hand down my chest, but despite her lush transformation she still shushed me firmly.”
Okay, that’s not in the article, but it could have been.
Dark glasses make another appearance. “Wearing her own dark-framed glasses, Sievert majored in global studies and Spanish at Concordia, perhaps not what you’d expect of a librarian.”
Since the article is so condescending to librarians, I’ll be rude and point out what an execrable sentence it is. I found the dangling participle amusing, and pictured Sievert majoring in global studies while wearing her own dark-framed glasses.” It would have been even more amusing had she been wearing someone else’s.
I was also amused by the assumption that majoring in global studies and Spanish is “perhaps not what you’d expect of a librarian.” That’s exactly the sort of thing I’d expect! What else is someone going to do with a major in global studies except become a librarian? Obviously this was written by someone who’s never met many librarians.
The same with this ridiculous line: “At libraries across the nation a new generation of hip, young, college-educated young adults …are replacing the ranks of older librarians nearing retirement, bringing with them a fresh understanding of technology into an industry that’s adapting to our digital age.”
Good grief. Hip? Really? These young women don’t seem insufferably shallow to me, so I doubt they’re “hip.” Young? Well, they’d kind of have to be younger than people retiring, most of whom were also young once upon a time.
Oh, and they’re college-educated. It’s a good thing we’re finally getting some college graduates into the ranks of professional librarianship. And about time, too! I’m tired of all these librarians who took the GED and then went straight to library school.
A “fresh understanding of technology” is good, too. It’ll be nice to toss out those old coots who have been working in libraries for the past few decades, with their hair buns and their typewriters, and get some real techies for a change, some “digital natives” who can show older librarians how this newfangled technology works.
Like what, you might ask? Apparently, “technology, especially eBooks and eReaders,” has become a big part of library work.
Those ebooks and ereaders are pretty difficult to figure out, which is why Amazon has had such a hard time selling them to the masses. If only they were simple enough for ordinary people to understand! At least for now we have librarians who have mastered that sophisticated technology.
I was trying to figure out what motivated this ridiculous article, given the profound ignorance of contemporary libraries and librarians. By the end of the article, I have my suspicions that only locals can confirm.
We find out that librarians pick up odd tidbits of information while helping people learn about things. Like, when helping a student “learn about hippopotamuses, a little searching uncovered that President Calvin Coolidge actually once owned one of the animals,” which is actually information about Coolidge rather than about hippopotamuses, but so be it.
And what good are these tidbits of information? They’re good for trivia contests, of course!
“And after they pick up such random information during the course of their work, these library workers, who have bonded beyond the library, put it to use Monday nights during trivia contests at Rhombus Guys in Fargo.”
Something tells me this article came about because the author and his buddies got their butts kicked by six young women with “dark-framed glasses” and tried to figure out why a bunch of young women knew so much more than he did.
Or maybe he was just excited by “dark-framed glasses,” because the condescension is pretty thick here: “With a team of six, the group of aspiring librarians often places in the top three spots of these trivia challenges, proving that today’s breed of librarians knows a little bit more than just the Dewey Decimal System or classic literature.”
I’ll be honest. I’ve never met any librarians from Moorhead, MN, but in my experience if “today’s breed of librarians” knows only a “little bit more” than the Dewey Decimal System or classic literature, then they know considerably less than some previous “breeds” of librarians.
What started as a profile of some nice, smart young women working in libraries turned into an obnoxious, condescending article revealing more about the author’s own prejudices than anything about librarians.
Tis’ a pity.