What Not to Tumblr–

Well, I’m back.

After two years, why did I pick now to return?  Think of it as my public service announcement to the thousands of you who will be in 3-4 days jamming battered carry-ons in overhead compartments across the country for the greatest meet-up of the year:  ALA Annual.

What’s the service I’m so publicly announcing?  I’m here today to help you become the librarian you secretly long to be—a self-branding librarian. 

Yes; faster than a virus from a sneezing pig in China, Rock-Star Librarianship (or RSL as I have curmudgeonly acronynized) has spread across our great profession, turning an once-obscure career choice into a virtual self-promotion platform for ex-liberal arts graduates with gigantic student loans and an unnerving attachment to All Things Sepia. 

While you’ve whiled away innumerable hours in budget meetings with county supervisors or developing children’s programming using items gleaned from last year’s Christmas presents, RSL’es have latched onto social media tools, spending their days tweeting about the awesome ‘zine they’ve self-published depicting a super-hero librarian–one that looks suspiciously like them. 

Once a librarian is imbued with the need to relentlessly self-promote, they are not content with the occasional book chapter or program for notoriety.  RSL’ers instead trap themselves in the endless pursuit of professional fame by compulsively Instagraming vegan cronuts and yarnbombed bicycle wheels.  

But before you begin shoving ironic badge ribbons and banana slicers into your bag, ask yourself: are they enough to launch me into rock-star librariandom?  Of course not—that’s already soooo May 2013.

For those of you who don’t have the patience and bandwidth to craft a persona that’s edgy yet adorkable by Thursday, think of my following suggestions as the Kickstarter of your image makeover:


  • Instagram all complimentary mini-pastries matching your vintage cardigans. 
  • Secretly tattoo John Berry when standing behind him in the hor d’ourves line at a vendor reception.
  • Demonstrate your requisite librarian badassery by photobombing the Emery-Pratt robot.
  • THE #ala2013 Meme: badge beards–
  • ALA program proposal rejected?  No problem!  Simply attend a session featuring a nationally known figure, preferably someone over 50.  Stare intently at your phone throughout the entire presentation in the hopes of catching Twitter shout-outs to you.  During the Q&A, saunter over to the mic and give your presentation, dropping your Prezi URL at the end of each  pronouncement.  Make sure you sound casual while using words like “heteronormative”, “super rad” and “make it happen”.
  • Frustrated no one’s responding to your incessant tweets about librarian orgies?  Convince library administration it’s vital to your library’s outreach to purchase a 3-D printer so you can print a LED dress flashing your naughty, 140-character bon mots.
  • Why not combine your love of handcrafted brews and cosplay by attending Annual dressed as your favorite beverage?  Remember to provide ventilation by adding a keg tap (note to guys: be real careful where you place the tap….)
  • Display your DIY-librarian edge to by modeling the summer reading corset you designed at a YALSA discussion panel.
  • Instagram your colleagues’ shoes.  Just make sure you don’t decide to do this while waiting in line in the bathroom.
  • One up your badassery by photobombing Rahm Emanuel.  In his office—
  • Tweet a photo of you nursing a hangover in an open bathrobe and a white Russian during closing session. 

No need to thank me.   Just tweet me a pix of you passed out under the paws of the Baker & Taylor cats.

5 Responses

  1. Jen
    Jen June 26, 2013 at 1:16 am | | Reply

    Best thing I’ve read all year. 🙂

  2. Holly
    Holly July 1, 2013 at 10:58 am | | Reply

    Love it! Keep writing!

  3. YokaiAkito
    YokaiAkito July 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm | | Reply

    Wonderful! Though, now I might have to make myself a summer reading corset for fear of losing my hipster!librarian cred.

  4. Ann Marie
    Ann Marie July 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm | | Reply

    so great to see you posting something again! (:

  5. Reuben
    Reuben August 13, 2013 at 9:05 pm | | Reply

    Good to see you writing – your contact form is down, BTW! Could you shoot me an email?

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