Image of Libraries in Popular Culture

October 14, 2001


Next Meeting 10/17/01 Meet outside GSEIS building at 12pm-1pm and after class 430-530 to discuss Myers Briggs type indicator and ?

Time Line:

10/17 get image words to Cheryl

10/18 home page should be up and running

10/24 9 AM Meeting to discuss "War of the Worlds", proof website, discuss some articles (Including LQ article provided by Adriane "Libraries, Librarians and the discourse of fear"), etc.

10/26 individual pages up and running

11/11 10 AM Meeting at LuValle to discuss second SF movie (A.I. is not out on video until January, what are the options?)

Minutes 930AM- 12PM

The current website draft was viewed by group members. Each group member will be responsible for a sub-topic site, which will be stored on their g-drive. Cheryl will be creating the background for each page with words provided by group members. Adjustments were made to the "Barbie Librarian" image (inspired by Patricia Glass Schuman's article: "The Image of Librarians: Substance or Shadow?") The Mission was revised to include a statement regarding the affect stereotypes have on the public perception of librarians. Dana suggested scanning library cards for our website as a reflection of library image.

The goals of the group are best reflected through our sub topic brainstorm: Librarians in the Movies, Image of Libraries/Librarians in Juvenile and YA Literature, Librarian as an Alter-ego in Popular Culture, Unconventional Librarians, Terror and the Library, How we define ourselves by what we are not (i.e. bookstore, coffeehouse, school, etc.), Historical Image, Future Image and the Current Reality, Society's Perception of Male Librarians, Society has a positive image of libraries, but they are underused.

Tangential discussion of comments that librarians tend to hear repeatedly, such as: "You need a Master's Degree to check out books?", "How do I get your job?", etc. The negative stereotype of postal workers was discussed and we all hope that the librarian image never gets that bad. Librarians need to stay focused on their purpose, which is to serve the public and professionally we should be sensitive to the needs of our patrons. "Regular" patrons are unlikely to take advantage of a public service attitude, it is the unconventional patron that is likely to cause problems or take advantage of closing time. Libraries should have PR because no one knows what they are all about.

The group decided on "War of the Worlds" for our Sci-Fi movie of the past, and "A.I.: Artifical Intelligence" (if we can find a way to view it) as our current movie.

Adriane gave us all a brief overview of the play "Defiled" which featured Jason Alexander as a male librarian on a terror campaign. He had a "Nicholson Baker" attitude about the card catalog and challenged technology to match his human resources. The group brought up that the #1 way people generally get information is by asking someone else. The character in the play was resistant to change and had no personal life, which fits well within the librarian stereotype. Are librarians really resistant to technology? Group members stated that most librarians seem to embrace technology.

We briefly discussed the librarian stereotype as found in the movies and how there are separate stereotypes for drama and comedy. The stock character "librarian" is used in many different ways. Librarians are thought of as obsessive-compulsive because of the order that is found in libraries. Keeping order is the opposite of spontaneity, which seems to fuel negative stereotypes. When control slips there is only chaos, and librarians tend to snap. "Girl in the Flammable Skirt" features a short story of a librarian that is sexually repressed until her life is in chaos and she snaps, becoming a sex fiend.