Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hey Garrison Keilor: THIS Is What A Librarian Looks Like

Dear Garrison Keillor:

I am sick,sick SICK of your blasted  "Ruth Harrison Reference Librarian" skit.

Librarians are overworked, underfunded and under appreciated and always have been. And we are getting more crap than ever in this "libraries are outdated, it's all electronics now" baloney.

You are a reader and a writer--a writer, I might add, whose books are BOUGHT by librarians, PROMOTED by libraries. You owe a helluva lot to us.

Once upon a time, when women were generally not allowed to become doctors, lawyers, engineers and the rest, the professions open to to them were generally teachers and librarians. And since middle class women weren't expected to work outside the home, most of the women working in libraries were well educated, middle class spinsters who generally stayed in those jobs forever, with their hair in buns, wearing their sensible shoes and their reading glasses on a chain.

But Garrison, I've been a librarian since 1984 and even then, a quarter of a century ago, that stereotypical librarian was already becoming an endangered species.

Librarians come in all ages, both genders and a range of ethnic backgrounds. They have outside lives. They do everything from rock climbing to fine arts.

They're tech savvy--computers have not taken away from their work as Katherine Hepburn feared in "Desk Set":

In fact, they've opened our work up in all kinds of new ways--something I know well because of my fellow travelers on sites like Pinterest and the Facebook "Flannel Friday" group.

Librarians are not conservative, hidebound or rigid--except perhaps for catalogers, and I won't start on my opinion of deviants catalogers here.  They adapt to new technology, they find ways to use it.

In the face of "Did you have to go to college to learn this?" "My taxes pay your salary", the folks who think all we do is stamp due dates and go "shush!", the families who use us a source of free programs and then go buy their own books, the daily dealings with the homeless, the mentally ill and the just plain rude, we smile and go on serving the public.

Want to see what a REAL librarian looks like Garrison?

You can find me HERE. And a whole lot of other librarians there as well, few who look or sound one bit like "Ruth Harrison".

Do some more joke shows, Garrison. Introduce me to some more great music. Make fun of the Republicans--tons of material there right now.

And send a nice large donation to the libraries of St Paul and perhaps all of Minnesota.
For that matter, if you could spare a bit, the state of Virginia could use some library funding too, especially with the current a-hole governor we've got.

Just enough with the "reference librarian" skit.
It's a stereotype, and we've got enough of those. And it's just not funny.


The Library Lady
Librarian, Wife,Mother, Gardener, Bad Ballerina and a Whole Lot More......


Saints and Spinners said...

I think "Bad Ballerina" should be your Wicked Rainbow Magic Fairy name.

Here's what I've been finding funny despite myself: the librarian-themed "hey girl" meme.

David France said...

And I'm a former rugby-player librarian. All shapes, sizes, AND inclinations.