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A Hipper Crowd of Shushers – NYT article July 10, 2007

Posted by mplibrary in Uncategorized.
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http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/08/fashion/08librarian.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
 

This article in the New York Times shatters the librarian stereotype.  Librarianship is now considered a field for the technologically hip, socially conscious, informed and fun crowd.  We already knew that.  Here are excerpts in case you can’t connect to NYT Select:

“Librarians? Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?

Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging — the kind that, according to the Web site Librarian Avengers, is “looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing.””

 “How did such a nerdy profession become cool — aside from the fact that a certain amount of nerdiness is now cool? Many young librarians and library professors said that the work is no longer just about books but also about organizing and connecting people with information, including music and movies.

And though many librarians say that they, like nurses or priests, are called to the profession, they also say the job is stable, intellectually stimulating and can have reasonable hours — perfect for creative types who want to pursue their passions outside of work and don’t want to finance their pursuits by waiting tables.”

“I wanted to do something different, something maybe more meaningful,” said Carrie Klein, 36, who used to be a publicist for a record label and for bands such as Radiohead and the Foo Fighters, but is now starting a new job in the library at Entertainment Weekly.

Michelle Campbell, 26, a librarian in Washington, said that librarianship is a haven for left-wing social engagement, which is particularly appealing to the young librarians she knows. “Especially those of us who graduated around the same time as the Patriot Act,” Ms. Campbell said. “We see what happens when information is restricted.”

Ms. Campbell added that she became a librarian because it “combined a geeky intellectualism” with information technology skills and social activism.

Jessamyn West, 38, an editor of “Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out” a book that promotes social responsibility in librarianship, and the librarian behind the Web site librarian.net (its tagline is “putting the rarin’ back in librarian since 1999”) agreed that many new librarians are attracted to what they call the “Library 2.0” phenomenon. “It’s become a techie profession,” she said.

In a typical day, Ms. West might send instant and e-mail messages to patrons, many of who do their research online rather than in the library. She might also check Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites, post to her various blogs and keep current through MetaFilter and RSS feeds. Some librarians also create Wikis or podcasts.

At the American Librarian Association’s annual conference last month in Washington, there were display tables of graphic novels, manga and comic books. In addition to a panel called “No Shushing Required,” there were sessions on social networking and zines and one called “Future Friends: Marketing Reference and User Services to Generation X.”

On a Saturday, after a day of panels, a group of librarians relaxed and danced at Selam Restaurant. Sarah Mercure nursed a blueberry vodka and cranberry juice and talked about deciding on her career after hearing a librarian who curated a zine collection speak. Pete Welsch, a D.J., spun records and talked about how his interest in social activism, film and music led him to library school.

But some librarians have found the job can be at odds with their outside cultural interests.

“I went to see a band a few weeks ago with old co-workers and turned to one and said ‘Is it just me or is this really, really loud?’ ” said Ms. Klein, the former publicist. Her friend, she said, “laughed and said, ‘You have librarian ears now.’ ” ”

by Kara Jessela

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