Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

I Told You So

We learned from LIS News last week that the library where this video “was filmed, the Reiche Branch of the Portland, ME Public Library is now CLOSED.” This at least supports my hypothesis that more funky librarian videos aren’t going to save libraries. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

The video in question, supposedly witty but really annoying, is the “Kickass Librarian” video. It’s been viewed over 6,000 times, no doubt by librarians who are overjoyed that the word “ass” and the word “librarian” appear in such proximity. It seems appropriate given the librarian’s attitude in the video.

How anyone could stand to sit through that excruciating video is beyond me. Where some librarians see “kickass,” I saw rude and condescending, and the tattoos didn’t make up for it.

The library system is probably out of money, but this video isn’t much of an incentive to support it. I can just imagine some hapless librarian going up before a library board or city council and arguing for more money using this video as a reason to fund. Fat chance of more funding.

Were I a library board member or a library patron and some librarian spoke to me the way she spoke to some of those patrons, I’d definitely not vote to fund the library more, though I might suggest some training in public relations or customer service. This video does for the image of librarians what Jaws did for the image of sharks.

Though obviously this video didn’t kill the library it was filmed in, just as obviously it didn’t save the library. Therefore, I propose that all librarians – cool, hip, kickass, tattooed, and otherwise – do themselves and the profession a favor. They should make one of their new year’s resolutions to NOT make any more videos about librarians.

Really, video-librarians, we’ve had enough. We’ve been pounded by “Library 101” and pummeled by “Lady Gaga” and kicked by “I Will Survive.” At some point the madness has to end. For all of our sakes, please make it end in 2010. I and the other librarians without inferiority complexes will thank you.

Ball gowns and tuxedos and martinis and champagne are in my future, and may they be in yours. I plan to dance the night away, and I promise not to post my librarian antics to YouTube. Having said that, have a happy new year!



  1. The only thing “ass” related to this video was that it sucked ass and it made me feel like one after being suckered into watching the whole damn thing hoping it would have been funny…

    I want my 11 minutes back.

    It’s crap like this that makes me question pursuing my MLIS, this and book cart drill teams — yeah, I said it.

  2. Thank you.

    In other news, my director wants me to make a library video and my boss has encouraged me to “be open about it.”

  3. Forgive me, please but I thought it was mildly funny. But, as usual, the AL is right, I suppose. All these videos are cute but I suppose not very helpful, except perhaps the fun the people had making the video at the moment it happened. It must have been fun for them, no?

  4. Jeremy McWilliams says:

    Thanks, Annoyed, for this inspiring message. As librarians, we should really ditch any attempts at creativity or risk taking, and go back to a world of shushing patrons. Meanwhile, those with real ideas (Google, start ups, etc.) can continue to render us obsolete.

  5. FWIW, this film was created by a comedy group, not librarians. If it were made by self-promoting librarians, I would be annoyed, too. As a comedy bit, it’s kinda funny.

  6. Marie Habener says:

    Lighten up! We all have different approaches as to how we will save the world. If you don’t want to see the videos, I suggest not watching them – this is the same thing I tell patrons when they find something objectionable in the collection. But please don’t suppose to know what might influence or inspire me or anyone else for that matter. Ball gowns, tuxedos, martinis, champagne and dancing the night away doesn’t sound like it’s going to save any libraries either. But if that’s what’s going to clear the way for you to effectively accomplish your library career goals – go for it.

  7. TeenLibrarian says:

    Re: Jeremy McWilliams there’s a reason librarians go to Library School and Film Makers go to Film school

  8. Reinventing ourselves behind the curve only brings out our most mediocre qualities and ultimately shows how we are even more irrelevant to the 21st century. If you wish to be useful, learn how the printer works. Learn how to maintain the computers so they run fast. And make sure the doors are open right on time every morning.

    I don’t know how this is going to pan out anymore, the tablet revolution is scary. Frightening. SCARY.

  9. will manley says:

    AL…this is definitely one of your best posts of the year. Thanks for having the courage to give your honest assessment of misdirected attempts at library public relations. We need your ability to speak the inconvenient truths about the trends and fads that are beginning to fray the fringes of our profession. Keep writing and keep telling it like it is. We need your voice now more than ever.

  10. Thank you for the post. Our boss here has the fixation to make a library video as well. Boss has practically pestered every librarian, all who refused, until the newbie buckled in. I would send this post to the boss, but I am afraid I would get fired for pointing out the obvious (no, this video will not make us cooler or make the students like us more).

    What is it with librarians with inferiority complexes and their stupid videos? The rest of us with some professional sense and dignity would thank you if you quit it.

  11. I agree with Frammy. It is a pretty good video. It reminds me of the skits that “A Prairie Home Companion” does with the character “Ruth Harrison: Reference Librarian.”

    I liked the video for some of the same reasons that I like the AL blog. AL often is a master at using irony and exaggeration to humorous effect. It kind of surprises me that AL responded to the video with the same humorless literalism that so many of his/her critics respond to the blog.

  12. These videos are indeed embarrassing (here’s another – why on earth would a professor post something like this?),but those who make such videos – and spend a great deal of going on about them on the net – are, thankfully, few in number. The AL would have us think otherwise, but I believe the vast majority of librarians are serious and socially engaged individuals who understand the real value of their profession.

  13. Hi Frank, I’m glad to tell you why a professor would post something like this. The first is the purpose behind the assignment:

    1. It put the students out of the comfort zones and showed them they could accomplish something creative that they didn’t think they could (librarianship is a creative act, not simply a repetition of functions).
    2. It provided a humorous blowing off of steam around a question they were getting from friends/parents/spouses…namely “you need a degree to be a librarian?”
    3. It familiarized them with YouTube and cloud computing at a very real level.
    4. It helped them get used to working on teams.

    As for why I would then post it? If they are confident enough in their ability to do the assignment, as their professor I should be confident enough to stand behind it.

  14. AnAcademicLibrarian says:

    If this were librarians making this video, I’d wonder what they were trying to accomplish. In some ways, the “librarian” was a bad stereotype of everything that is wrong with our profession, from the side-buns to the tattoos.

    But as a commentary from a comedy troupe, it’s sort of amusing. I think we as librarians can take some good things away from it. If this is how the public really sees us, we’re probably doing something wrong. I have no desire to be seen as a punitive librarian or a hipster, tattooed librarian. I’d much rather be seen as competent professional in my field who provides a valuable service in the library.

    I think AL has got it right in criticizing this and other videos and marketing types of efforts like this.

    It’s not a matter of creativity. Sure, we should be creative. But our creative efforts should also be appropriate and relevant.

  15. I thought this video by the University of Technology in Sydney was rather nifty.
    Not all videos have to be pathetic attempts at wit.

  16. bibliophile says:

    That was excruciating. I’m sorry I clicked on it.

  17. curmudgeonly librarian says:

    Let’s face the here and now: good looking people sell stuff.

    Here’s an example:

  18. Elena1980 says:

    I am so glad I don’t work for many of your libraries (note to the ones who didn’t want to create videos). The videos we have done here have been informative, educational and entertaining.

    I like that AL brings out these discussions though, because I believe that we do need to direct our attentions to the Good, and not only to the Bad and the Ugly. Making these sorts of videos should receive constructive criticism. But the good should receive as well.

    We librarians have some really great videos out there such as (when it was still fresh):
    Also view:

  19. Huck Finnish says:

    Seriously, Elena1980? Those videos were terrible; the first was unoriginal and the second was insanely long and of poor quality. Neither was “informative, educational and entertaining”–and the second has barely been watched, so who cares if it *was* brilliant?

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