Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions

by Aimee Graham, former Head Editor, INALJ New York State
previously published 3/24/14

Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions

15093_133739483442688_1289912329_nWhether 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.






Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular webzine and jobs list (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 19.5 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She has also written for the 2011, 2012 & 2013 LexisNexis Government Info Pro. She presents whenever she can, most recently thrice at the American Library Association's Annual Conference as well as breakout talk presenter at OCLC EMEA in Cape Town, South Africa and as a keynote speaker at the Virginia Library Association annual meeting, at the National Press Club, McGill University, the University of the Emirates, Dubai, MLIS program and the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and has relocated to being nomadic. She runs her husband’s moving labor website,, fixes and sells old houses and assists her husband cooking delicious Pakistani food as well. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


  6 comments for “Debunking 10 Librarian Misconceptions

  1. Colleen McGhee-French
    January 12, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    “Aren’t libraries disappearing nowadays?” Oh well, that gives me a chance to advocate more for libraries!

  2. Lauren
    January 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    I found the answer to the first question disappointing. I’ve worked as a “librarian” for almost a decade now without holding an MLS/MLIS… most recently as a Gov Docs Librarian with a major defense contractor. I wish more was discussed about those of us in this field that do not take the traditional route towards librarianship… Just a thought :)

    • January 13, 2015 at 12:04 am

      I’ve discussed a ton on here about how I got my first librarian position as a Librarian as a gov contractor without my MLIS. It gets covered just not in every article :) Sounds like a great article idea! Consider writing it :)

  3. June 23, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    The same things apply to library techs!

    • June 24, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Agreed! I was a tech for years :) And one of the reasons I used “Library” instead of “Librarian” in INALJ’s title is this reason :)

  4. March 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    “What do you learn in Library School? The Dewey Decimal?”

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