According to the NYT (so you know it must be true) some new librarians are hip, you know, now that they don't have anything to do with books and reading, and they're all about tattoos and social activism. Yuck. If I were a librarian, I'd be insulted by this article. Why are librarians so desperate to be described by such adolescent terms of praise as "hip" and "cool"? I find that sad. Maybe next the Times can write an article about how librarians are "neato" and "da bomb." What a silly and puerile culture we inhabit.
The Times profiled a group of young (naturally) librarians who live in Brooklyn and form some sort of drinking group called "Desk Set," where they come up with hideous sounding cocktails and name them with Dewey Decimal numbers. Obviously public librarians and obviously unappreciative of the classic martini. "With their thrift-store inspired clothes and abundant tattoos, they looked as if they could be filmmakers, Web designers, coffee shop purveyors or artists." In other words, they look like losers. If they wanted to look like winners, they wouldn't shop at the Salvation Army and they'd live in Manhattan.
The article is of course built on stupid stereotypes: "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?" Has this ever been true? Even the old librarians I know wear contacts, and I doubt many of them have ever read a classic book, unless you consider Agatha Christie a classic. My stereotype of a librarian is a helpful, overweight, middle-aged white woman, exactly what most of these "hip" librarians will eventually be, despite the occasional presence of a "guybrarian." (Apparently the label librarian is actually a feminine noun, instead of librarianship just being a feminized profession. Perhaps we should adopt the term librarianess and let the guys be called librarians occasionally.) What idiot prepped the Times writer on this stuff? Methinks it might have been a self-righteous member of the "Desk Set," but maybe I'm too cynical.
“I think we’re getting more progressive and hipper," says one librarian. Or perhaps they're just getting shallower and more annoying. I think it's an open call. They're certainly not getting more critical, intelligent, or thoughtful, especially about libraries.
And what attracts the annoying "hipsters": "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." That's right, because the job is the functional equivalent of waiting tables while you go off to do the interesting things you really want to do, like be a "creative type." Yuck.
And then we get the politicos. According to one young librarian, "librarianship is a haven for left-wing social engagement, which is particularly appealing to the young librarians she knows." Still no mention of librarianship. We get the "creative types" who prefer being a librarian to waiting tables (probably because waiting tables is more difficult and generally pays less), and we get the social "activists" who also have no useful job skills and probably think everyone should be supported by the government just like they are. Regardless, I'm sure these "hip" souls will find a home with the regressive librarians, where they can sit around and talk about how hip and caring they all are instead of doing some useful library work.
Anyway, these attractive traits all get combined in one librarian, who "spun records and talked about how his interest in social activism, film and music led him to library school." Yuck. Library school - the place you can go to get an easy degree to get an easy job that will more or less support you while you go off and be "creative" and annoy people. Librarianship (or at least public librarianship based on this article) - welfare for "creative types" and "activists" and the mediocre. I thought that was just the public education system, but obviously public librarianship serves the same purpose, if this article is to be believed.
But I guess that's only to be expected. It's not like the job is difficult. It's not like it inspires passion for most people, at least not the kind of passion people show for their tedious "creative" work or "activism." Going to library school is something you do when you don't have any marketable skills and you're not good enough at what you really like to do to make a living at it. It doesn't have anything to do with meeting people's information needs or helping to educate democratic citizens or collecting the scholarly record. No, it's about shopping at the Salvation Army and drinking insipid cocktails and getting stupid tattoos. The ALA should use this article as recruitment literature to draw yet more "hip" and "untalented" "creative types" into the profession.
I for one am glad so many librarians have been beneficiaries of the "Americans with No Abilities Act." If it weren't for the ridiculous MLS and the undemanding, taxpayer-supported library jobs these "hipsters" obviously have, how would these poor people ever support themselves while they went around being "creative" and stuff? They might actually be expected to contribute something to librarianship. Or, God forbid, they might have to go out and work for the Man or some terrible thing like that, and we know they'd be so unhappy. The Man isn't hip, He doesn't shop at the Salvation Army, and He expects results. Yuck.