Annoyed Librarian
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Inside Annoyed Librarian

Turning the Tables

Lots of people like to make fun of the way librarians dress. In fact, I’ve probably done it myself, but I can get away with it because I’m a librarian. It’s when know-nothings from the outside take a crack at librarians that annoys me.

Fortunately, the sort of people who make fun of the way librarians are dressed are pretty easy to make fun of themselves.

For example, consider this clown rambling about Kirsten Dunst: “It seems like Kirsten Dunst has slowly begun to realize that running around looking like librarians and disheveled hippies all the time does very little for us interested in getting an eyeful of a fine hottie.”

An entire worldview is contained in that sentence, a sad, shriveled, slightly depraved worldview, but a worldview nonetheless. Here we have a man, such that he is, who believes that “celeb hotties” exist to give him something to ogle.

He believes, in fact, that such women owe him something just because they’re women and he exists. They owe him a visually pleasing experience, like a work of art or some other object that has no will of its own.

How nice of Dunst to finally come to her senses and give such a creepy fellow a thrill. Let’s hope he stops at ogling, because we’ve lately seen the tragedy that ensues from men thinking all women owe them something.

And turning it around, we probably wouldn’t want to ogle the writer. He writes for the Internet and has chosen not to display a photo of himself. There’s a reason people write for the Internet instead of pose for naked pictures, and that reason isn’t false modesty.

My other recent example comes from the AARP Magazine, of all places, via the Huffington Post, which is saved by publications like the previous one from being the most ridiculous online entertainment.

The pointer from the Huffington Post was surrounded by such gems as “9 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Mind,” because HuffPo is a perfect place to get psychological information.

Or “10 Rules Of Email Etiquette Every Woman Should Follow,” because those women better police their email etiquette or else!

Or clickbait for idiots such as “We Had No Idea What Was About To Happen When We Posted This Photo On Facebook.” I still have an idea what happened because I don’t care and neither does anyone else.

Or “I’m Motherless By Choice.” No, wait, that one was actually quite moving. Pity it had to be sandwiched between silliness.

The AARP brought in a “fashion expert” who says people over 50 shouldn’t dress their age, whatever that means in a country of jeans and shorts for everyone from 2-102. The introductory paragraph gives a good feel for the whole article:

Many years ago, somebody or other — some annoying self-appointed style guru — came up with the concept of age-appropriate dressing. The basic idea is as follows: The older you get, the more conservatively you should dress. Color and flamboyance are for young people. Restraint, propriety and formality are for elders. For some reason it was decided that once women hit 50, they should ditch that metallic snakeskin disco purse and start dressing like depressed librarians, circa 1940. Yawn!

I know how he feels about annoying self-appointed style gurus. Those are the worst!

Depressed librarians circa 1940? I have absolutely no idea what that means. We can probably find photos of librarians from 1940, but how would we know if they’re depressed from their clothing? Do they wear frowny face buttons?

Probably not, since the smiley face wasn’t invented until 1963. Maybe they just frowned a lot because frowns make shushes easier or something and that makes them look depressed.

As a librarian, I somehow don’t mind my fashion sense being criticized by creepy men or shallow people who use sentences like this: “You have earned the right to sassy it up!” Why, thank you for that explanation of my rights.

The great thing about getting older isn’t that I can now “sassy it up.” The great thing is that I couldn’t care less about what style gurus or anyone else thinks about how I dress. Age earns you the knowledge that what other people think about you isn’t that important.

He also tells us that “All you need is a little something to help people remember how fabulous you are.” Aww, am I fabulous? Are we all fabulous? Do we live in the age of ubiquitous fabulosity?

No, we don’t. According to the fashion expert, “We are living in a fashion-obsessed universe.” A self-styled fashion expert believes “we” live in a fashion-obsessed universe? I think that’s what the Freudians call projection.

Librarians might fall into the category the “expert” calls the “eccentrics.” “Eccentrics are influential. What Cyndi Lauper, Pink or Gwen Stefani wears today, you may wear tomorrow, or in three years. Or maybe never. Who cares!”

Thus, librarians will be dressing like Cyndi Lauper now or someday, or they won’t. Hard to argue with that. This guy might be an expert in fashion, but definitely not on sense.

“I myself always wear a button-down floral shirt. Why? Because Mick Jagger used to wear them back in 1966, and, call me crazy, old Mick is still my No. 1 style icon.” Well, we could call you crazy, or we could call you a liar, since there’s a video of you embedded in the page showing you quite clearly NOT wearing a button-down floral shirt.

But maybe “always” doesn’t always mean always. Who cares!

I’m so swayed by the insanity that I’m ready for a complete makeover, but I know I need to take baby steps and start by adding a “signature flourish.” After all, “Johnny Cash had his black shirts and his bolo ties. Willie Nelson has his braids. Meryl Streep has her subtle cat-eye glasses.”

As my signature flourish, I’m going to adopt all three, because why not, I’m fabulous!



  1. At my first library job the boss told me to “Dress professionally, shirt and tie. I’m hoping your example will encourage more professionalism in the dress in that library.”

    That was code for “I don’t like the way the other librarian dresses but instead of confronting her about it I’m going to take a passive aggressive bankshot via the new hire’s dress code.” This was in an organization where the library was one small part of the whole, but it clearly shows that oppression of fashion-independent librarians is still alive and well in the 21st century.

  2. The Librarian With No Name says:

    Oddly enough, I know a children’s librarian who has Willie Nelson braids, non-subtle cat-eye glasses, and wears bolo ties more often than not. Fortunately, most of her button-down shirts are brightly colored and patterned, or else I’d suspect I had uncovered AL’s true identity.

  3. Walter Lessun says:

    Makes me happy we have clothing-optional Fridays…

    • The Librarian With No Name says:

      Yeah, wow. Can’t wait to keep thinking about that, forever. Thanks, buddy.

  4. Frumious Bandersnatch says:

    A fashion writer complaining in a fashion article that everyone is too fashion obsessed? There’s an existential crisis waiting to happen…

  5. Mildred says:

    Come to my local library. Whoever hires seems to pick those with face piercing. How would you like to ask something of someone sitting at the reference desk with a ring in her nose .. the middle of the nose..or there is one librarian in her fifties who is thin and thinks she should dress like a middle school student…Or how about pierced eyebrows..they also seem to hire a lot of males lately who when asked anything point to some older female librarian and say go ask her she’s really good at this..yeah, finding a book, how unique .. never thought a librarian could do that..

    • Frumious Bandersnatch says:

      I can’t tell you how profoundly little I would care, or how shallow I think it is that anyone would, assuming the piercee in question also happens to be competent at their job. (And for the record, I’m in my forties, without a piercing or tattoo in evidence, myself.)

  6. “I’m fabulous”? See Phineas and Ferb:

  7. Adult Reader says:

    I am no longer in liberry school and thankfully no longer surrounded by librarians, so I haven’t visited this site in awhile. I just clicked over today to see if AL had addressed the recent “Against YA” article on Slate, because I was pretty sure it would be hilarious if she did so. I am disappointed. C’mon, AL, that article has almost 2000 defensive comments from creepy adults who read books written for 13 year olds! I want to see you make fun of them!

  8. Motherless by choice? So, matricide?

  9. dan cawley says:

    skyclad is the new armani!

  10. Well now, lets see…..I’m wearing my Hawaiian shirt today, tomorrow I’ll wear a GEEK T-Shirt, Thursdays are another t-shirt promoting reading in some fashion, Fridays are for “what ever you feel like wearing that won’t get you arrested” so maybe jeans and another t-shirt….not since I left the teaching “profession” have I worn a shirt and tie…always made me want to sing “Another Brick in the Wall”……and unless someone has died or is getting married, I will not be wearing a shirt and tie daily because of my “profession”.

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