I Can’t Believe I’m a Librarian

I never really aspired to librarianship as a child (who does?) probably because of perceptions such as these. Just for kicks I did a Google Books search on the phrase “librarians are like” and here are a few of the results. I actually found this somewhat discouraging — most of these statements were in library journals and indicate that we have something of an inferiority complex. If only the world understood us.

  • Most male librarians are like bulls in a china shop when it comes to the task of making a library look right. If local female talent isn’t available, … [Planning the College and University Library Building: A Book for Campus Planners and Architects – Page 93; by Ralph E. Ellsworth – 1960 – 102 pages;]
  • But I forget myself; we librarians are like Kentucky whiskey—some are better than others, but there are no bad ones! … [Library Essays: Papers Related to the Work of Public Libraries – Page 239; by Arthur Elmore Bostwick – 1920 – 432 pages;]
  • I believe librarians are like the unconquerable Chinese… [Illinois Libraries – Page 728; by Illinois State Library, Illinois Library Extension Commission, Illinois Library Association, Illinois State Library Library Extension Division – 1919;]
  • “Librarians are like pre-war Army quarter-masters, .. [Whigmaleeries – Page 4; by Scottish School of Librarianship – 1962;]
  • But first, we must get rid of some out-of-date ideas on what librarians are like: dry-as-dust, bluestockings, martinets, dragons even! … [The Assistant Librarian: Official Journal of the A.A.L. – Page 41; by Association of Assistant Librarians – 1997;]
  • children’s librarians are like the cigarette smokers in the TV commercial in this … [The Reading Teacher – Page 179; by International Reading Association – 1951;]
  • Librarians are like midwives. [Wisconsin Library Bulletin – Page 387; by Wisconsin. Free Library Commission, Wisconsin. Division for Library Services – 1984;]
  • Librarians are like artists: the good ones, given time, develop individual styles that are recognizable. [Making Sure We Are True to Our Founders: The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, 1970-95 – Page 332; by Jeffrey Brandon Morris – Law – 1997.]
  • A library is like a church, and we, the librarians are like priests and ministers… [RQ. – Page 28; by American Library Association Reference Services Division – 1960;]
  • Librarians are like scientists in this respect: it is never safe to ask them questions about anything outside of their show-case. [The Bookman – Page 506 – 1912;]
  • Reference librarians are like tourist guides in foreign countries. [This Business of Writing – Page 182; by Gregg Levoy – Language Arts & Disciplines – 1992 – 219 pages;]
  • Instructional librarians are like combat nurses, often ignored until needed, but deeply appreciated when they materialize at the right place at the right time. [Training College Students in Information Literacy, 2006-07 – Page 11; by Primary Research Group – Computers – 2006 – 73 pages;]
  • Librarians are like local politicians —they enhance their position by taking the best deal offered. [Publishers Weekly – Page 2608; by Publishers’ Board of Trade (U.S.), Book Trade Association of Philadelphia, American Book Trade Union, Am. Book Trade Association, R.R. Bowker Company – 1873;]
  • Librarians are like people in one respect at least. [The Catholic Library World – Page 68; by Catholic Library Association – 1929;]
  • Librarians are like mothers. [The Educational Review – Page 235;]
  • Librarians are like fishers in the sea. [The Library Quarterly – Page 220; by University of Chicago Graduate Library School – 1931;]
  • We librarians are like the rest of the world. [Rice University Studies – Page 40; by Rice University – 1962;]
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher has said that librarians are like missionaries in their
    zeal. We have to be. We are an integral part in the shaping of mankind and …
    [Bulletin of the American Library Association – Page 886; by American Library Association – 1938;]

I can’t believe I’m one of them. God must indeed have a sense of humor since I am now, and love being, one of them. Though I must endure the stereotypes, I do get to invest in theology students preparing for ministry by teaching them how to do substantive research. I guess I can endure being compared to a “dry-as-dust, bluestockings, martinet.”

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