I have written quite a bit so far about character types, stock types, stereotypes, etc., of both male and female reel librarians and delved into why those types exist. But what is the next step… how do we librarians react to our own celluloid images?
… ignore the portrayals completely and feel embarrassed by them?
… protest the stereotypical characteristics (thereby most likely alienating others and begging for misquoted mutterings of Methinks thou dost protest too much)?
… throw a pity party and play the song “It’s My Party” over and over?
… state proudly, “I… am a librarian!” and fall over in a drunken stupor? 😉
Does it even matter how we react?
I think it does.
In the article “Loveless Frump as Hip and Sexy Party Girl: A Reevaluation of the Old-Maid Stereotype” (which I’ve cited before on this blog), Katharine Adams wrote, “stereotype is not irredeemably negative,” and “the loveless-frump image offers librarians to rewrite the cultural narrative within which we live” (p. 291). Recognition of reel librarian stereotypes — or whatever you choose to call ’em — can lead to freedom from those stereotypes. We librarians can laugh at our own images, perhaps appreciating how a librarian’s role helps a particular film’s plot or story structure instead of obsessing over how the librarian’s image reflects badly (or not at all) on the profession itself.
Side thought: The same sentiment above could be extended to librarian blogs and bloggers! Why not let the world know that librarianship is overflowing with professionals full of wit and humor and style and intellectual curiosity?
It also helps to recognize that stereotypical traits do not stamp every librarian portrayal; the adjectives sexy, intelligent, funny, and adventurous can also be applied to male and female reel librarians. I hope this blog has helped, and continues to help, shine a light on the myriad and depth of reel librarian roles. And I’m not the only one who shares this passion for librarianship and pop culture! Please visit the related sites I’ve listed and linked to on the sidebar. –>
As Adams observes, “the strategy of the lipstick librarian […] promotes manipulating stereotypes of women with a sly smile and a knowing wink” (p. 297). Awareness and identification of this knowledge is the key to transcending stereotypical roles and fulfilling the diversity of librarians, real and reel.
- Adams, Katherine C. “Loveless Frump as Hip and Sexy Party Girl: A Reevaluation of the Old-Maid Stereotype.” The Library Quarterly: Information, Community, Policy 70.3 (July 2000): 287-301.