Scaredy cats

There was a post recently on ALA’s LinkedIn page that questions whether people are afraid to bother librarians with their questions.

At my previously job, I had a secretary compliment me saying that her attorney had nothing but praise for me after I assisted her on some research. She said that the attorney told her that I didn’t talk down to her or make her feel bad about not knowing how to do something. And I jokingly asked if people were afraid of me or something. And the secretary said “actually yes”. And I let out a great belly laugh because I am more puppy than  pit bull. But it got me to thinking:

Are librarians inherently scary?

When I was a kid, the librarian sat at her desk stoically. I can’t recall a single instance where I approached her for assistance. I grew up to work as a page for that librarian. I soon discovered she was a sweet old German woman who, in retrospect, was a little intimidating. I’m sure I asked her for help, but I can’t remember doing it.

As I start at my new position, I’m trying to find ways to break down that stereotype. Since it’s summer and between sessions, the traffic through the library is sparse so not many people are aware of my presence. I’ve tried to reach out to faculty to make them aware of what I can do for them which is something I think I could have done a lot better in my last job (you live and learn, right?)

But I honestly think it’s about how you carry yourself. But then again, you have to get them in front of you first.

So any tips for working against the stereotype that librarians are scary? I’d like to start things off great in this new position and I am willing to listen to all suggestions.


About indie librarian

a recently MLS librarian's observations
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One Response to Scaredy cats

  1. My official title is “General & Humanities Reference Librarian,” but I don’t use it much. Partly it’s because a goodly portion of my job is collection development, but that’s not the only reason. It’s a good title as these things go, and nothing to be ashamed of, but when I think “reference librarian,” one thing comes first to mind. Reference librarians sit at desks in rooms full of reference books and wait for questions. Sure, they do more, but they still do this. Whether this is a good thing depends upon your library, and I can’t say how much your library might be like mine. But as long as that’s part of being a reference librarian, then “reference librarian” seems outdated for a lot of librarians.

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