The Linebacker Librarian

My Husband: The Linebacker Librarian

by Jaclyn Butz

JButz2Jesse Butz is 6’2, 365 pounds and looks like a football linebacker. Once, forever ago, he DID play football, but that was many years and a broken back ago…now he’s a librarian.

When people walk up to the reference desk at the public library where he works, they often stare aghast when he walks up to assist them. They always ask, Could you tell me where to find the librarian?

Once, when he went on one of his first job interviews for a librarian position, the woman interviewing him cowered behind her desk, shaking with fear and asked him to leave because he “wasn’t what they were looking for” before he could utter more than a polite hello.

I admit, I was a skeptic when he pitched the idea to me six years ago: he would leave his lucrative retail management to be a librarian. Before he could become an “official” librarian, he would need to get a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. This was the guy who had NEVER READ A BOOK until the day we met ten years ago. This was the guy who played football, baseball, and could squash a tin can with his bare hand.  This was the guy who routinely lifted my 180 pound body over his head with one arm. You can understand my dismay and hesitation at this suggestion.  But he did it.

The road to librarianship was rough: his graduate classes were filled with women. He didn’t fit the typical librarian mold, and as a former corporate manager, his ideas were often seen as too harsh and unrealistic in the library community. It was routinely assumed that he was gay throughout his quest to become a librarian, because straight, football playing dads don’t become librarians, right?!

I’m here to tell you that they do. In fact, they become really awesome librarians with incredible, innovative ideas that improve the library world.

We all have preconceived notions about what a librarian is: mine used to involve a little old lady with a stamp, checking out my books to me and saying, “Shhhhh!” when I talked too loudly in the stacks of books. Having met numerous librarians over the last couple of years, I can assure you that this view of libraries and librarians is completely false and outdated. No one stamps anything anymore, and the library is about the sharing of information and technology. Also, that weird, damp and kind of moldy smell that we all remember from our childhood library? Gone. They have humidifiers now and the temperature and humidity are carefully controlled by an electronic system to protect the documents and the advanced technology that most libraries house.

Libraries are a new breed, and so, in turn, are librarians. Anyone can be a librarian, even a 365 pound former football player.

I can assure you that my husband didn’t become a librarian for the money, and he certainly didn’t do it for prestige. He did it because he loves knowledge and truly enjoys helping people find information.

Welcome to the new world of libraries: meet your new librarian. He doesn’t wear a shawl or have gray hair pulled into a bun, but he IS the smartest guy in the room AND he can help you rebuild your website if you need to…

JButzJaclyn Butz lives in DeKalb, IL with her husband, Jesse and 8 year old twin sons. She has a degree in Corporate/Organizational Communications from Northern Illinois University and works full time as a Practice Manager at a Dental Office. In her free time, she…wait, what free time?! Mostly she does laundry and tries to keep her home from sinking into a cluttered abyss. Jaclyn is on Facebook and LinkedIn.

Jesse Butz “Linebacker Librarian” lives in Dekalb, IL with his lovely wife Jaclyn and their twin sons. He is the Head of Adult Services and Information Technology at Sycamore Public Library. Jesse has a Bachelor degree from Northern Illinois University and an MLIS from the University of Illinois. Before he was a librarian, he was a Regional Director in a retail environment. He spends his free time golfing, and avoiding the “honey do” list that his wife updates daily.

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