at The Evergreen State College

Presentation of Librarians in Popular Culture

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Note taking/ in development. Sorry.

The true image of any one librarian is truly human and complex, just like that of any other person under any other profession. Yet, the mixture of gender expectations, universal experience, prejudices, literature (ironically), television programming, and film have generated a multiplicity of stereotypes. They benefit, deride, and generally morph the public perception of every librarian.

Librarianship is almost as old as written language, so these stereotypes are dense with history. It is one of the more difficult profiles to throw off. There are as many archaic expectations of a librarian’s actions and personality as say, a soldier’s. Sadly, these professions share a similar duality in stereotypes that are borne of respect and those borne of dislike.

There are stereotypes derived from ageism, sexism, cultural-ism, and many other forms of prejudice producing categorization systems.

Here are a few, taken from the mouth of multimedia popular culture.

The librarian as a "monk"

The librarian as an old maid Librarians don't "get any" or asexual lonely and stubborn shrew

The librarian as a teacher/parental figure elementary school librarians compassion observational

The librarian as a sophisticated creeper

The librarian as a grumpster "SHHHHH!" This is MY space

The librarian as an oldster Young librarians do not get as much public respect. Why is this? It is the opposite in many other professions. American culture worships the young, but not in the case of librarians.

The librarian as a respected hero/seriously awesome action hero

The librarian as a "paperweight" (useless/outdated)

Buffy [live action sci-fi/horror show] Thursday Next [literary detective novels] Arthur [animated children's show] Matilda [film]

"The recent appearances and dominance of male librarians such as Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Flynn from The Librarian series, and Henry from The Time Traveler's Wife embody contemporary renegotiation of power relations within the realms of gender and knowledge/information. Male librarians became possible in American mass culture as technology became to be seen as central to the profession in both mainstream discourse and within librarianship itself (Tancheva 542). Ultimately, these texts are reactionary, as they endorse the need for an authoritative, masculine figure to act as a gatekeeper to knowledge and information and to conquer irrationality. This vision is complicated by a modified masculinity that is based on the Generation X models of the New Father and... by these characters' relationships with female characters, but it remains. These texts simultaneously reveal a discomfort with this gatekeeping figure, as these male librarians are forced to confront the irrational as embodied in the paranormal elements of these texts; however, these male librarians are ultimately able to control the paranormal, even if only to a degree. Unlike female librarians, burdened by the domestic and the bodily and dominated by the rationality of the library, these male librarian gatekeepers are to be admired. They are manly, powerful, and act for the forced of good; they are cool." Watchers, Punks and Dashing Heroes Rafia Mirza and Maura Seale


Librarians in Media

Seductress/Crazed/Manipulative Librarian

The librarian as "Eve"(cultural-ism, sexism),dangerous liar who provides the means for destruction/loss of innocence

Tammy from "Parks and Recreation" sitcom
Tammy from "Parks and Recreation"sitcom

Omniscient-Flawed librarian

Vox from "The Time Machine" film adaptation of literature

Fantastical Hero Librarian

Lucien from "Sandman" literary/hypertext comic
Flynn from "The Librarian" film franchise

Age-Specific Librarian

Tai from "Questionable Content" [1]