You Will Know Me by the Trail of Reserve Slips

As some of you may know, I’ve gained some notoriety by poking fun at the librarian stereotype. And many of you have asked me why the devil did I create the site. I have my serious, pre-pub answer (“in the mind of the patron, the stereotype of the librarian as gate-keeper impedes access to services”…yada,yada,yada.); my flippant answer (“I went to my first ALA conference in 1992 and realized to my horror that we do look like the stereotype”); or my semi-honest answer (“I have no clue“). But there’s one answer I’ve never given, one that speaks volumes (no pun intended):

I look like a librarian.

How do I know? The evidence speaks for itself:

  • San Francisco, 1991: Talking to my sister, I moan about library school, telling her I never thought I’d wind up a librarian. I could almost hear the eye-rolling over the phone accompanying her reply: “what else would you be??”
  • 1997 ALA Annual Conference, San Francisco: After a three-year exile, I am back on my home turf. I rip off my badge (only tourists wander around wearing those “rob me!” signs), race out of Moscone Center and head down Mission Street. I get no farther than a block before I’m stopped by a bewildered woman clutching her free Baker & Taylor bag. Her question? “Are you a librarian? Can you tell me where the conference center is?” I slink towards Marshalls on Market & 5th to assuage my feelings, only to find the place crawling with sensibly-dressed (or vaguely ethnically-dressed) women wearing conference badges, struggling underneath piles of knocked-down clothing towards the check-out line. Sighing, I pick up three black sweaters and join the fun.
  • 1999 ALA Annual Conference, New
    Orleans
    :
    After a long day of caging free scones from vendors, my best friend Guy, Jill and I head to a gay bar just outside of the French
    Quarter
    for some dancing. As I twirl to If You Could Read My Mind by Stars on 54, I notice an extremely attractive boy sitting at the back of the bar watching me. I can’t believe it–a twentysomething guy eyeing me, a fortysomething librarian, dance the night away. I am flattered; I pull out my best late-80’s moves (the last time I did some serious dancing). After watching me for ten minutes, the guy gets up and heads towards me. I blush as he moves his lips close to my ear. “So–are you enjoying ALA this year?”

    Guy and Jill didn’t stop laughing until the next day.

The list goes on and on: I inevitably get stopped in other libraries and book stores by people wanting to know where the self-help section is located. When walking with friends, I’m the one people approach when they need directions. In other words, I simply ooze helpfulness.

Looks like I was doomed from the start.

What I’m Listening To: Jewel Song: 20 Great Soprano Arias. I finally replaced my battered cassette tape of fave arias.

2 Responses

  1. Sulkbrarian
    Sulkbrarian January 24, 2004 at 4:19 pm | | Reply

    it is much the same in my quadrant. i look like one. i act like one. they all want help in the store. they all think i am what i already am. children cling to my legs in the movie theater. it is not unpleasant. but…once, just once, i would like to surprise them all and whip out a cat o’ nine tails or something and go, “NOW what do i look like, bitches??”

    ­čśŤ

  2. Fiona
    Fiona January 27, 2004 at 5:35 pm | | Reply

    ha! I’m wearing a You will know us by the Trail of Dead t-shirt to work today.

    I get yelled at out of cars by losers for looking too punk. It amumes me no end, because I don’t see how a retro dress and colourful socks constitute punk in any way.

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