We all know librarians hate stereotypes of librarians, which is why some are compelled to indelibly ink their skin and post public pictures of themselves or anonymously tell the world that they don’t like library patrons.
I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove with this, since basically no one but librarians cares about librarian stereotypes, and all the tattoos in the world won’t change anyone’s opinion.
If we’re going to fight librarian stereotypes, perhaps the one we should fight the most isn’t the bun-wearing shusher or the sexy librarian, but the stereotype that everyone who works in a library is a librarian.
If we did that, we probably wouldn’t see headlines like this: College librarian denies LGBT student use of school laptop because he looked feminine.
Or the even stranger one: School Librarian To Gay Male Student: “You Sound, Look, and Act Like a Girl”.
It’s almost like these journalists can’t tell the difference between librarians and other library workers, or between academic library workers and school librarians. That’s crazy!
The story goes that a student at Florida Atlantic University tried to check out a laptop from the university library, but claims he was denied because the staff person dealing with him said he looked and acted like a girl, and the university ID was clearly for a guy.
Because there probably wasn’t a picture or anything to compare the guy’s face to. There’s just an ID for an Abdul, and everyone knows Abduls all act like football players at a keg party.
Then, as the Salon story almost certainly has wrong, he “had to go through three other librarians before he was able to borrow a laptop.”
You see the problem here. Obviously, there was no school librarian involved, and I’m shocked that a publication with the reputation of Queerty would make such a ghastly mistake. What school librarians are left work in schools, not universities. Duh.
And Salon? That bastion of investigative journalism? Honestly, Salon, what are the chances that there are three levels of librarians waiting in line to check out laptops to students. In a lot of academic libraries, three levels would take you from the bottom to the top of the hierarchy. I mean, honestly, how could someone make such a mistake!
I know how, it’s because of that darned librarian stereotype that everyone working in a library is a librarian, from shelvers putting books back in the wrong places to directors passive-aggressively managing the staff.
That’s just plain wrong, and I want it to stop. These publications are missing the real story, which isn’t about laptops or homophobia or whatever, but about the inaccurate stereotypes that librarians face every day.
Yeah, yeah, you’re probably thinking that this poor kid was embarrassed in a library, denied a service of the library by some staff member just because she thought he was too effeminate. Injustice was done.
But the far bigger injustice is that he thinks everyone who works in a library is a librarian. When is that story going to be told? When will that travesty make the headlines?
Instead of tattoos, I recommend a more aggressive strategy to fight this problem. Librarians should wear big buttons that say, “Only REAL librarians get to wear these buttons.” Then they should stand watch over service desks and say loudly to every patron “She’s not a librarian! I’m the real librarian!”
And possibly also, “Look at my tattoo!”
Without that sort of aggressive and stereotype-defying action, we won’t make any progress in this fight. After we get it sorted out that it wasn’t a librarian who denied a laptop, or whatever other egregious acts have been attributed to librarians, then we can figure out what to do about other injustices.
Until then, we fight the stereotypes. If not us, who? If not now, when?