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Librarians in the media

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

From the Library: The Librarian Stereotype on the Big Screen

Writing about The Librarian brought up a lot of things to think about, and one thing that I wanted to talk about was the genderization of the profession: look at the librarians in the video there, and then look at what they were doing: two reference librarians, a man and a woman, are asked questions. The woman is asked about the dating of Chinese bronzes; the man is asked to compile a bibliography of radar. Later on, the embedded hospital librarian, who is a woman, is able to compile a bibliography for a doctor (taking care to use the most lengthy and difficult term possible, because medicine is obscure like that). Naturally, she has to add that, “the words were difficult to pronounce!” There’s even a segment with a manager and the librarians around him, and it’s important to note that the manager’s male, while the majority of his employees are female.

Mary with a husband, and Mary without a husband. See a difference?

Mary with a husband, and Mary without a husband. See a difference?

That then brought to mind other portrayals of librarians, notably Mary from It’s A Wonderful Life, who is shown in two different ways: one as a very feminine, social woman in the ‘main’ timeline where she’s married to her husband George; and one as a spinsterly, frumpish woman in the alternate universe where George wasn’t born. It seemed like a good place to start since It’s A Wonderful Life is a contemporary of “The Librarian,” and what with Christmas approaching faster than I’d like, It’s A Wonderful Life was on my mind. But then I did some brief searching, and then I found that someone else had discussed it more thoroughly than I ever could have, so I suggest you check it out.

Also, read the comments. This is probably the only time ever that I’ll suggest reading the comments, but there’s a lot of additional discussion going on there, and it’s worth a look.

“Not Your Parents’ Library”

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

“Not Your Parents’ Library”

This is back from August, but since it’s from St. Thomas, where I’m from, it was something that intrigued me: St. Thomas and Elgin County Libraries are offering new sorts of downloads. Now, a library offering digital downloads or access to databases — which is basically what Zinio is — is not new. London Public Library, for example, offers the exact same Zinio subscription. I’ve used it, I’ve looked at IndieFlix, done the whole bit. If anything, it’s a great way to look at magazines without needing to pay for them, even if reading on a computer screen is less than ideal.

No, what’s most striking about this is that there is an article devoted to this fact. Indeed, the closing quote is that this “isn’t your parents’ library,” which definitely says something about how libraries are still perceived. The fact that it needs to be spelled out in black and white only emphasizes this.

But for all that, I do think it’s offering a valuable service — while not all patrons will be able to, or want, to access stuff wirelessly, having it there can be a great convenience. Particularly in a place like St. Thomas, which doesn’t have the bus system that London does, making it more difficult for some patrons to get there. Certainly, it’s up with the times — now if only people didn’t need to be reminded of that fact.

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