by Aimee Graham, former Head Editor, INALJ New York State
previously published 3/24/14
Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions
Whether I have physically been in a library, running errands, talking to family and friends, or during social events I have been presented with a similar series of questions when I inform others that I am a librarian. It’s unfortunate that such a stereotype (you know what I’m talking about) still exists in today’s age, so I am debunking the myths that come with our profession.
1.) You need your Masters to be a librarian? Yes. In most positions (I have seen a few requiring a Bachelors and experience) an ALA-accredited Masters degree is required. In some positions, two advanced degrees are required, all depending on the institution and subject of the position.
2.) Why are so many librarians not from the area? We are pretty nomadic people. If you want to move up, that sometimes includes moving out. Jobs can be difficult to come by in the areas surrounding ALA-accredited schools, popular cities or rural areas, so be willing to relocate if you want to advance.
3.) I’m sure you read a lot. Not all of us are book nerds. There’s the art, history, culture, techy and music nerds, too. Most of us have a speciality while others are generalists. Like everyone else, we have our hobbies.
4.) How do you know this person in another state? It’s a small field. You’re always going to run into someone who knows someone who knows someone. So don’t burn your bridges. Bad conduct will follow you throughout your career.
5.) I didn’t know librarians have events. We have a lot, in fact. From major conferences such as ALA annual to regional, networking and coming together is a huge part of our profession.
6.) I thought librarians were boring. Just because we’re structured at work does not mean we’re dull in our personal lives. From participating in roller derbies, bands, or extreme sports, we librarians are just like everyone else.
7.) Aren’t librarians supposed to be old, grouchy, wearing a cardigan, glasses and hair in a bun? Sure there are some still in existence, but the Hollywood stereotype is almost dead. A great deal of librarians today are younger, many with tattoos, piercings, and even multi colored hair and extremely outgoing personalities. But it depends on the environment in which we work, so it varies.
8.) Librarians still exist? Yes, we still exist. Google will not give you all the answers or show you how to get them.
9.) Librarians really do not want to help. On the contrary, we really do. That is why most of us entered the profession. We want to help get you to the resources to help you accomplish what you need to. So don’t be afraid to ask us for help!
10.) Don’t librarians just stamp books? Those duties are usually saved for student assistants or circulation staff, and very rarely will a physical stamp be used (a lot has gone electronic). We do a wealth of duties ranging from reference and instruction, web design, webinars, professional development, etc. We are far more than advancing than just stamping books (although there is nothing wrong with that duty in itself.