Annoyed Librarian
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Five Ways Lady Gaga is Not a Librarian

Everyone probably believes I’m a huge fan of Lady Gaga. I just seem like that sort of person, don’t I.

It’s not true, though. I didn’t even like her music the first time around when she was Madonna. As I write this, I’m sipping a martini and listening to Chet Baker. I needed the purgative after my foray into Gagaland at YouTube.

(The only benefit to the extensive YouTube research necessary to write this post was running across a video of an annoyed librarian in action, or at least one portrayed on That Mitchell and Webb Look. Enjoy The Insulting Librarian.)

By now you might be aware that Lady Gaga has written her first magazine column, for V magazine. I have to admit, the smooth if sometimes incoherent prose has a certain Dada charm. It’s like a good dance song, rhythmic without making enough sense to distract one from the rhythm.

In it, she says she considers herself a librarian of “glam culture,” and she makes lots of references to library cards.

The comparison between Lada Gaga and a librarian seems so appropriate and natural that most people will hardly question it. With the comparison, Lady Gaga characterized librarians as obsessional experts, and that seems apt. Scratch the surface of a good reference librarian, and you’ll find all sorts of arcane obsessions.

However, believe it or not, the analogy isn’t accurate.  So here are five ways Lady Gaga is obviously not a librarian.

1) She can’t possibly be a librarian because she doesn’t have an ALA-accredited MLS. How dare she make such a claim! We all slogged through tedious courses with lots of group work for an entire year to make that claim, and she thinks she can can make it without that? People without MLSs saying they’re librarians are like people who aren’t God saying they’ve written the “bible” on something. It’s just not right.

2) She makes a lot of money, and is successful at a young age. Librarians never make a lot of money, and at the age Lady Gaga was winning Grammys, most librarians are still failing in their first career.

3) She’s young and thin. These aren’t typical librarian traits. As evidence, I suggest you compare the video for “Poker Face” with this librarian parody. The difference is pretty obvious, isn’t it.  She also surrounds herself with young, thin people, as also evidenced by the video. The only time librarians do this is during children’s storytime.

4) Librarians would never write this: “Everything from vintage books and magazines I found at the Strand on 12th Street to my dad’s old Bowie posters to metal records from my best friend Lady Starlight to Aunt Merle’s hand-me-down emerald-green designer pumps were sprawled all over the floor about two feet from my bathroom and four inches from my George Foreman Grill.”

First, keeping your library collection on the floor, near both a restroom and near food? This is a librarian’s nightmare. Vintage books and magazines should be in climate controlled stacks, no food or bugs allowed.  The posters should be stored flat in drawers; better yet, they should be digitized to make their content more accessible to the world. I don’t actually know what to do with the pumps. Maybe an acid free shoebox.

Second, the sentence  is ungrammatical. Reduced to its basic elements, the sentence says, “Everything were sprawled.” Librarians wouldn’t achieve the Kerouacian fluidity, but darn it they would be grammatical.

5) Librarians don’t care about fashion. You may reference the Lady Gaga parody video of librarians to confirm this fact, or you can just walk around your library. Librarians are the only professionals I know of who would consider wearing sweatshirts to work, except maybe professional house painters. On the other hand, they also wouldn’t wear meat dresses.

Thus, this question would never arise: “When Yves Saint Laurent designed the “Mondrian” day dress for fashion week Fall/Winter 1965, did he plagiarize or revolutionize?”

Personally, the librarian’s answer would be “who cares?”  On the other hand, if it was a reference question, it really can’t be answered because of its subjective nature, but nevertheless the librarian would try to find a range of sources on the issue so that the aspiring fashionista could explore every possible position.

So there you have it. This claim  to be a librarian just won’t fly. I’m sorry, Lady Gaga, you’ll just have to settle for being young, thin, and rich, and leave the library work to us.



  1. Great post! Very funny and it also got me picturing Lady Gaga working in a library. She would make even the worst of skeevy old men and porn-watchers blush with those outfits.

  2. This is pretty funny. When I first saw what she’d said, my reaction was an unedited version of “What the frack??”

  3. Techserving You says:

    Haha… I enjoyed this amusing piece. I just have to say that I slogged through tedious classes and lots of group work for TWO whole academic years, not one. I, however, am the only librarian (aside from those who attended my program) I am aware of who went to a two-year MLIS/MLS program.

  4. Anonymous says:

    There are some librarians who care about fashion. However, as you pointed out in #2, we don’t make enough money to buy as much fashion as we would like. And why bother looking fashionable if it’s only going to draw unwanted attention from the creepy regulars who come to the public library every single day?

  5. Danielle says:

    Hey, I’m young and thin; I care about fashion; and I’m a librarian. Do not compare me to those women in those Youtube videos. Gosh!

  6. Mary Jane says:

    Actually, I believe my MLIS program called itself “a year and a summer.” With people having so many things going on in their lives, I wonder that any program can bill itself as a definite time anymore. Oh, for the days when “just” going to school full-time was enough! Enjoyed the post and the Insulting Librarian video. Hmm, the insulting librarian has a whole history of the patron’s reading selections?

  7. Melinda says:

    This is a really amusing post. Techserving: did you go to San Jose State? I, too, slogged through tedious classes for two years, not one. Danielle: I’m also young and care about fashion. Unfortunately, I am not thin!

  8. Two year MLIS programs are the standard in Canada

  9. Fat Guy says:

    Hey, I’m middle-aged and fat; I don’t care about fashion; and I’m a librarian. Compare me to those women all you want! ;^)

  10. Young Librarian says:

    Great article! Not a big Lady Gaga fan, but I can appreciate someone who likes to break the mold. I mean, I’m young, thin, and I am a librarian…and I have several sisters who ensured I didn’t look like a total doofus when I went out. Hopefully I learned something from them. At least I get a lot of compliments about my 70s ties I picked up on eBay a couple years ago. :)

  11. Sisterhood says:

    Clearly no one here is familiar with the part of the library containing books on feminism and women’s studies. Let’s continue pitting “attractive” versus “unattractive” while completely ignoring the value of librarians.

  12. Please. Everyone knows Tori Amos is the only diva that can be considered an honorary librarian. There’s even an album (“Tales of a Librarian”). And she dresses better than Gaga. So there!

  13. Sisterhood, your criticism is strange considering the words “attractive” and “unattractive” appear nowhere on this page so far except in your comment, and now mine. What exactly are you talking about? Do you mean that only young, thin, and rich people are attractive? How ageist, weightist, and classist of you.

  14. AL revealed: “As I write this, I’m sipping a martini and listening to Chet Baker.” Many of life’s miseries, including a nasty day at the library, can be ameliorated precisely thus. AL is very wise.

  15. Cattycataloger says:

    Enjoyed this posting. I too took 2 years to get through school.

  16. Her HBO show was terrible. Too much talking in between songs and horrible rambling to boot! I’m not a fan, but that helped cement the fact that I never will be….and while I am at it….Danielle-wanna go out sometime?

  17. Techserving You says:

    I don’t know, but my program did not accept applicants who intended to attend part-time, although a small number of people (I can count on one hand) had things happen so they had to go down to part-time. This was in Canada at a top university where, surprisingly, students actually choose, right out of college, to pursue librarianship. They pick it like they’d pick law, business, medicine…. I was really surprised by that because in the US (where I a from) people tend to just fall into the field after working in it as a student, etc.. There’s a different librarian culture there (though they share some things, too.) Everyone in my class was normal and attractive.

  18. Techserving You says:

    I just saw the question about San Jose State… no, this was a Canadian university. And I mentioned just now that they didn’t accept part-time applicants to respond to the poster who commented that they don’t know how programs can bill themselves as taking a fixed amount of time.

    In any case, they CAN bill themselves as requiring a certain number of credits, and my program required 48, not 36.

  19. de la Tour d'Auvergne says:

    “She’s young and thin. These aren’t typical librarian traits.”

    Yeah, but you find more with those traits at some schools than others. If they’re in Coates Hall, they’re not just young and thing; they’re young, thin and can tailgate. Geaux Tigers.

  20. Most graduate programs are based on credit hours, not years.

  21. Sisterhood says:

    @Morse: Quite right, I can see why my comment could come across that way. I absolutely do not believe that “attractive” can only mean “young, thin, and rich.” I meant to convey the subjectivity and socially constructed nature of “attractive” and “unattractive” with my use of quotation marks. Since we already live in a culture that values appearances far more than it should, it distresses me that there is still so much emphasis on the appearance of librarians, to the point that librarians are criticized for being “fashionable/attractive” or not “fashionable/attractive” enough.

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