"At the age of 15 I took a job at the local public library as a book shelving page where my 'stereotypical librarian' boss ruled the roost. She had long braided grey hair and over-the-nose rimmed glasses to boot. She never worked the circulation desk or ever shelved books, but spent most of her days hunched over the typewriter cranking out catalog cards. I think she spoke to me maybe three dozen or so times during my three years of employment and although she emerged occasionally from her glassed-in office to interact with older patrons, she seemed to care nothing about acknowledging youth.

I'm happy to report that I wasn't jaded by this experience, for as I learned later on, librarians are a pretty engaging and diverse bunch -- even those with braids and glasses. Stereotypical patterns for the most part are gone (thank goodness for that) and what I find emerging in its place is a great group of knowledge facilitators and experts who are friendly, approachable and yes, they even like young people! I'm pretty sure Ms. Patricia would not have approved, but that's OK. The card catalogs are all gone (with good riddance)...Now lets do the same with the ol' stereotype, :) "

Director of Public Services Technology

"Mrs. Thurgoode quietly crosses the room in her sturdy, sensible lace-up shoes, steel gray buns firmly in place. Her sharp eyes scan the room for offenders: those smart little preteens who talk behind raised books and stand in the book stacks with the human growth and development section.

The stereotype still lingers! When in fact, librarians run marathons, study aromatherapy and are certified in foot reflexology. They can list the ingredients in the recipe for Armenian rice pilaf or walk you through the steps of making a paper mache pinata with supplies you have on hand without consulting a book.

A librarian can move miles away and some of her patrons still call her at home with reference questions.

In fact, so few of the general public visit the modern library that their image of library personnel is stuck forty years ago when they were traumatized by the librarian in their small hometown.

They are not coming to us, so is the solution to go to them in schools and supermarkets and have a meet the librarian column in the newspaper?

We need to get to know each other."



One "Shush" from a librarian like "ACTION FIGURE NANCY PEARL!" can make a rowdy child quiet as a statue! Her super powers are beyond compare!

"I had two stereotypes of librarians growing up. The media taught me that librarians were very skinny 'old maids' sporting buns, glasses, frumpy clothes, and scowling faces. They had a lot of cats. They lived to 'Shush' patrons, especially children, and had what would now be called OCD--obsessive compulsive disorder.

In real life, some of my happiest childhood memories are of going to storytime at the library, and talking with the kind, helpful librarian. I loved the sense of accomplishment I got from returning a stack of books, and the anticipation of walking out with a new stack. The library was a peaceful haven in which to dream, imagine and grow. In the stacks of the library, anything seemed possible.

How am I unlike the stereotype? Well, I'm certainly not very skinny! I'm married with short curly hair, and I don't scowl too often. I don't wear designer fashions, but I try to wear colorful or interesting clothes. I don't shush children, though I speak to those who can't keep it down to a dull roar. And whatever my faults, obsessive organization is not one of them!

I do wear glasses, love books, and enjoy quiet. I have always had cats and adore them. I hope I can be part of helping children treasure the library and their reading experiences just like my childhood librarian (sadly I can't remember her name) did for me. I am blessed with a wonderful department of good examples to follow!"

Sr. Library Assistant - Children's Services

"The stereotypical librarian is a white older female, tall and thin. She wears glasses, sensible laced shoes, a long dark skirt with a white collared blouse, gray hair up in a knot with a few wisps of hair slightly out of place. Attractive with a bemused smile on her face, she is very erudite and aristocratic. She has never been married, and has no children. At her cozy home her cats and piles of books surround her. She packs her lunch every day, and feeds the birds with the crusts of her sandwich. Her favorite workds are "my dear" and when she says "shhhh!" her glasses slide a bit down her nose because she is looking at you over the top of them while her forehead wrinkles as her eyebrows turn down.

I am a mixture of this stereotypical librarian. I am a white older female, although I am short and average. I wear glasses and sensible shoes without laces. I wear my hair down in a shoulder length style. I have been married and have three children. Yes, I confess to having piles of books in my cozy home, but three dogs live there with me: a beagle, a pointer and a spaniel mix. My 'packed' lunches consist of yogurt, fruit cuts, juice or crackers. An occasional "sweetie" might slip out, and the once or twice a year when I say 'shhhh!' - my glasses definitely do not slip down my nose!

What I have noticed about these stereotlypical librarian descriptions is that most of them include appearances. The best part of being a children's librarian is all the storytelling and read-alouds we get to do! I also love to research and help our borrowers find what they need. It's a joy being around all the children!"

Sr. Library Assistant - Children's Services


"My idea of a librarian is that she has big brown thick glasses that cover half of her face while they continuously slide down her rosy red nose. She will never look at you straight in the eyes unless you have just asked her the 'dumbest question on earth.' Then when you do that her eyes will cross as she gives you a much too complicated answer for you to comprehend. She will never leave her card catalog alone unless she is leaving to pull more books to add to the card catalog.

I am SO far from that kind of librarian that it almost killed me to even think that stuff up and put it down on here. I don't have glasses that completely take over my face so you can't tell who I am and I most definitely don't spend my entire living day with any card catalog."

Library Page

"The stereotypical librarian is an older woman, usuallly in her late 50's or early 60's. She is always seen sitting behind a mahogany desk, either reading or writing out more card catalog cards. Horn-rimmed glasses, a stern face that never bears a smile, stiff proper clothing and black proper shoes. All this along with a tight , no-nonsense bun at the back of neck and the one sound vocabulary of "SHHHHH!" personifies most people's image of the typical librarian.

I believe that I am a far cry from the stereotypical image of a librarian. I am turning 19 in October. MY usual attire when coming in to work is a pair of faded jeans, tennis shoes, and a fitted tee. I've been known to be somewhat crazy when it comes to working. Playing with the children, joking with the patrons, and having a good time with what I love. Being teased by my coworkers (and teasing them back whenever I can), and always singing while I work. I'm typically always on my feet rushing here, running there and the desks at Harrisburg Public Library are definitely not mahogany. More of a cedar or something like that. The sound, "Shhhhh!" has never left my lips and I couldn't put my hair into a bun if I wanted to."

Library Page

"My view of the stereotypical librarian is that it is an older lady with her hair in a bun and wearing spectacles on her nose. She is snippy and generally unhelpful because her attitude is that you should know by now how to find books for yourself, after all, all you have to do is look on the card catalog. How hard can that be???

I do work in the Harrisburg Public Library. My attitude is that we as librarians should be as helpful as we can with the time frames allowed. I believe in training people so they feel confident in using the library. However, I want to reassure them that when they need assistance, their request is no bother to us at all. The bottom line is that we as librarians are to be public servants."

Library Assistant

"I asked my husband what he thinks of as 'The Stereotypical Librarian' and he said 'older, hair pulled back, glasses low on the nose, conservative dress, and sensible shoes - black sensible shoes'. I looked in my closet and saw a plethora of colors and prints and not one pair of 'sensible black shoes'. In fact my shoes are almost as colorful as my clothes! I do fit the 'pulled back hair' 'glasses' (but not low on the nose), and the 'older' part, but come on! He has been married to a very colorful librarian for 36 years and this is what he envisions! Good Grief - do I give up now or just bury my head.

The one thing I am not particularly happy about is the relaxed (or as I perceive it less-than-professional) attire of people working in libraries especially the 'professionals'. My feeling is that the more casual our work attire, the less respect the public has for the profession. Do we look like professional people who take pride in our work or do we look like we are just here putting in our time and getting a paycheck? In the next generation what will be the 'stereotypical librarian look'? Khaki pants, T-shirts, jogging suits, casual attire or will there be a new look that will reflect what the fashion mavens declare 'everyone should wear'.

Food for thought or nightmares."

Sr. Library Manager

"When you think of a librarian, you first get an image of: an old woman, hair pulled back (color brown), glasses dropped around her neck with a chain attached, wool suit in a dull color and very comfortable shoes with laces. She would be very stern and crisp with her answers and always giving out looks of distrust and academic importance. Her library would be a very quiet one!

I work in the library as a library assistant. I don't fit the stereotype totally, but there are some matches. I'm pushing 50 (or should I say it's pulling at me!), glasses are upon my nose (no chain yet!), I wear comfortable shoes (no ties). I don't however look stern or give crisp answers. I definitely don't have the look of "academic importance".

P. S. As far as the quiet library goes . . . some days the thought of a perfectly quiet library would be nice!!:) "

Library Assistant

"A librarian is not the one you see in comic strips, children's books or the rendition you may see in a Disney movie. No, a librarian is one who perceives themselves a super hero. This hero is the protector of an ideal that was instituted many years ago. The ideal that all are welcome in a library as long as they understand the protocol of honor and respect due the institution in which they are entering. They must understand that this institution is a shrine of equality, the benevolent benefactor of free speech, the martyr of the lesser masses and the key holder to all that is worthwhile. This librarian will thwart any injustice to these ideals by placing their own personal safety and sanity at risk. "

Sr. Library Assistant


"My view of the stereotypical librarian: I always imagined a librarian to be female, older wearing glasses. She was also patient and quiet.

Having worked in a library setting, I find that (either librarian or assistants) both male and female enter the profession. Our ages range from young adults to "mature adults". We rely on technology to assist our patrons as well as ourselves. Definitely not what a stereotypical librarian is. "


"I don't think I necessarily fall under the old stereotype of librarians. I'm not a woman who wears horn rim glasses and I don't usually wear my hair in a bun (unless there are extenuating circumstances). However, I do own a cat. And when I'm working and I have to tell a child (or an adult for that matter) to lower their voice, I often wonder how I went from being on the receiving end of this message to the one that's issuing the order!

As I think back to my childhood, being raised in an inner-city, primarily black neighborhood, I remember my neighborhood librarian being an older white female. And the images from film and television solidified this stereotypical image. So this has always shaped my idea of what the stereotypical librarian looked like. However, when I started working in a library as a teenager, those stereotypes were immediately put to rest once I was introduced to the staff. There was even one manager whose reputation for partying preceded her, yet she was the consummate professional at work. I thought of her as my "hero". I still site her as one of my influences for joining this profession. It just goes to show you how deceiving stereotypes can be!"



"For me the stereotypical librarian is personified by Marion in the musical 'The Music Man'. She shushes people, she is a quiet shy type of person and she does wear her hair up. I would also add that my idea of the stereotypical librarian from my growing up is always the helpful person, still very quiet though an older person, usually female wearing glasses and having the hair up in a bun. Although as I started using the library more and more as a young adult and then as an adult I found out just how deceiving stereotypes can be.

I am unlike the stereotypical librarian for a couple of reasons. I am not shy or quiet, and I don't shush people. I also don't wear my hair up in a bun, it is too short. I do however rely on glasses to see."



"Generally speaking, I think the stereotypical librarian is more like a machine than a human being. This means that he or she enforces rules and preserves order. In a favorable way, it can also mean that he or she has amazing recall of where things are and can dig up the right fact when needed - there's a such a librarian in The Da Vinci Code.

Librarians help others but don't pursue agendas of their own. Thus we are servants and have to fight for respect. On the other hand, we are PUBLIC servants and so represent authority, which makes some patrons afraid of us."


Middle-aged, caucasian, female, dependent on my glasses. . . .yes, in many ways I fit the stereotype for librarians. However I was also all these things when I drove a forklift at a K-Mart distribution warehouse. None of these attributes were chosen, just fate. As Popeye would say "Aye yam what Aye yam!"

I am choosing, however, to become a librarian. Not for the glorious financial compensation, but to finally settle into a profession that I enjoy. I have loved libraries from childhood, beginning with the bookmobile that visited our neighborhood in Raleigh.

I look forward to the day when there are no labels or stereotypes about professions. We should all feel free to try any job we are able to do without worrying about whether we "fit the mold" or not!

Sr. Library Assistant, Children's Services


"When I think of librarian stereotypes, I think of the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." Without George to marry, Mary Bailey has such a horrible fate that Clarence the Angel doesn't want to tell George that his wife is. . . .the librarian! She's unmarried, she wears glasses and frumpy clothes, her hair is in a bun, and she distrusts strangers. Add shushes a lot and has cats, and make sure the glasses are at the end of her nose, and you've got the stereotypical librarian.

So how am I like this stereotyped picture? I am female, I am unmarried, and I wear glasses. (They do fall down my nose sometimes, but I don't wear them like that all the time.) I'm not particularly fashion conscious, but I'd like to think my clothes aren't frumpy. When I wear my hair back it's almost always in an easy-going ponytail instead of a bun. I do not have cats, I try to be friendly to everyone, and I almost never shush.

What makes me laugh about Mary Bailey is that in the movie, being the town librarian seems like a fate worse than death. For me, it's the best job there is!"


Youth Services Librarian

"I have been working as a reference librarian in a public library for about nine years. I always find it amusing when I'm asked "Where do you work?" and the responses are "Wow that's cool; it must be nice to sit around and read all day." If only we could read all day. Guess the public does not realize all the real work we do besides just sitting at the reference desk answering questions. I think as a profession we need to educate the public more about the 'other' work such as collection development and management, readers advisory, teaching classes, planning programs, community outreach, fundraising, computer and technical assistance, professional development...just to name a few. We need a new logo..."we are here to help, but we don't have time to read" or something like that!"

"Overworked Librarian"


"When people think of a typical librarian, they think of a very prim and proper lady with glasses at the tip of her nose and hair pulled into a bun. This woman has no sense of style and goes around telling people to be quiet all day. She is usually Caucasian and older.

I am not like the typical librarian. I am young, African American and very relaxed. I listen to hip-hop and watch music videos, and do all of the things of "Generation X". However, I love to learn and read, and I enjoy providing information. I believe that it is extremely important to have a variety of individuals that work in the library to show children that yes, you can be a librarian or library worker, and still be cool! This is a cool job after all.

Because I am not what one considers the typical librarian or library worker, at times I do encounter challenges with the public. I have been questioned about my authority and whether or not I know what I am talking about. Others say, "You work in a library, I can't believe that." Well believe it! I plan to stay in this field and set an example for young African American children, so they will know that there are a number of opportunities in this field and they are open to them if they desire."


Sr. Library Assistant, Children's Services

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