Breaking the stereotype

While surfing my “friends” profiles on Facebook I noticed a group I hadn’t come upon yet – Library Workers are the Best. One of the posts on this group’s page was titled “The Best Nutters are in…” This brought me back to my first day of work at the library – February 1, 1980.

My Mother had taken me kicking and screaming to apply for a job at the library. “I don’t want to work there all the nerds, geeks, losers (fill in whatever was the correct term used in the 80’s).” I was convinced that the old librarian stereotype still existed. But I went, I interviewed and amazingly enough accepted the job when they called to offer me it. Hey, it beat working in McDonald’s. Still when I walked into the Long Reach branch of Howard County Library I felt that I’d be dealing with the outcasts of society. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I walked into work to find the senior class clown working at the same branch. And 25 years later nothing has changed.

Don’t get me wrong, one of the best things about where I work IS the people. What I mean is the old stereotype that I had grown up with doesn’t exist and for that I am grateful. I can’t imagine working with a more nutty, funny, wacky, frustrating, endearing, kind bunch of people. Not one of them fits the stereotype of yesteryear. No buns, no half-glasses sitting down low on the nose, heck no one even shushes anyone anymore.

Now the trick is convincing others who don’t work in libraries to see past that stereotype. I still get “that” reaction from people I’ve never met when you tell them where you work. I’d love to take those people to Computers in Libraries or other library conventions just to show them how long gone those old stereotypes are.

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