So, in case you don’t know this about me, I am currently a YA librarian in an urban library that’s part of a very prestigious library system *pats self on back* and graduated from library school this past December. When I first started library school, I also worked a couple of other part-time library jobs and internships, mostly in rural areas. I’ve always loved libraries (I mean, obviously any place with booksbooksbooks is a Mel place), but even I had stereotypes and preconceived notions about libraries before working in them and going to school to become a certified librarian. Today, I feel like sharing some of the ways my perceptions of libraries and librarians have changed over the past couple of years of being in the library profession.
- Libraries don’t have to be quiet. Most people still think of being shushed by a librarian in a cardigan with a graying bun when they think of libraries, but that’s really not what libraries are anymore, especially when working with children and teens. My section in the library where I work always has a higher level of noise than other parts of the library might, and that’s because the goal of youth librarians is largely to make the library a place where kids can be kids, and that includes being loud.
- Not all librarians have the same view of libraries. In library school, pretty much all the other students were way older than me, but we all tended to have the same views about what libraries could be and how they can support the communities they are a part of. I think this made me think other librarians I worked with in the real world would think this way as well, but after an…unfortunate outreach experience with a school librarian recently, I learned that not all librarians think the same way, which now seems silly that I thought that in the first place. Some librarians still have that old-fashioned view of libraries only being quiet places for academic purposes, but in reality, libraries have grown so much more from that.
- You can’t be introverted and be a librarian. I very wrongly believed when I first started that a library would be a haven for me as an introvert. It’s true that libraries are quieter and more relaxed than most places that have people working with the public, but being a librarian requires a fairly high level of extroversion when it comes to providing good customer service, doing outreach with local schools and institutions to promote library resources and programming, and interacting with the public on a day-to-day basis. Still, a lot of librarians definitely still are introverts, so it can be comforting to talk to other introverts about how they deal with the anxiety of having to be extroverted all the time.
What are some of your stereotypes about libraries and librarians? Have I challenged any of them?