Friday, October 22, 2004

Romanticizing the libraian



To the curious, my health has returned to me, in part from the gracious outpouring of get well wishes from my devoted readers.

For the past several weeks my spirits have been sagging. Hearing about "saturation of the job market" and the "funding and budgetary cuts" being suffered by many libraries has made my heart sink. Yet in the back of my mind, the librarian I want to be has endured. It was pointed out to me by a colleague that "I make the life of a librarian sound so romantic", and indeed I stand by that sentiment.

We are taught to believe that librarians are chronic shushers, ill spirited old women who are gaurdians of the books. Has anyone stopped to think of all the people who are non-traditional librarians? Glamorous lifes they lead. A few examples.

*Corporate Librarians-knowledgeable and generously paid individuals who can afford a wardrobe. Smart, sassy, and chic. My favorite corporate librarian is one of the smartest women I know, as well as one of the smartest dressed women I've ever met. Not your typical librarian.

*Auction House Cataloguers-Dealing with some of the finest objects you can imagine. Invites to cocktail parties because they talk about more than books, and considered "marketing tools" by many. They can discuss the current market price of many items, as well as discuss their provenance in detail. Delicious.

*Luxery Cruise Line Librarians- They travel the seven seas, and speak several languages. They maintain collections on board luxery liners that please the international masses. Plus, they stay in posh quarters, and have travel perks that make Robinson Carusoe look like a house-bound geriatric.

*Preservation Librarians-Shocked that this is mentioned? There are fewer than 200 of them. Usually they hold faculty positions, and publish. Many of them speak as guest lectuerers at prestigious conferences held globally. They fix our libraries up after disaster strikes. They are sort of the knights-in-shinging cardigans in our profession.

*Special Collections Librarians-NY Botanical Garden, Bronx Zoo, Fashion Institute of Technology, MOMA, New York State Music Association, l'Opera : All of these librarians essentially get to play with what they love all day long. Not all of them are called librarians...sadly. Imagine being the historian for the House of Chanel, or the Edith Piaf museum in Paris. Each a bona fide librarian.

*Historic Library Librarians-The Bodlian, The Radcliffe Camera, Sorbonne, The Library of Congress, Yale: Sexy old libraries with rich, decadent librarians quarters. Perhaps the pay isn't as fabulous as the librarys' architecture-but you have a mahogony desk and genuine tortoise shell lampshades. One can not argue with the thought of this being on your business card.

Libraries are romantic. Not in the "dry hump the librarian" sort of sexy way, but in a historically, waxing poetic sort of way. They've endured, and we get to act as gatekeepers for them. Showing them off like a new engagement ring to each new set of eyes that walk in. That is beautiful to me. I've wanted to do this since I was 4 years old-and the day is soon approaching when I'll be able to "show my place off".

So as for the bun headed, support hose wearing, corderoy, asexual stereotype...put it to bed. A majority of my readers have already broken out of the mold. A beefy, handsome archivist, a sasspants curate at the Chrysler Museum, a vintage cardigan, horn rim wearing bombshell public librarian...all proud of our jobs, and having jobs to be proud of.

Maybe my rose tinted lenses don't see the picture clearly, but if dillusions of grandeur get me where I want to be, then I say wear them.

Moral of this blog: Turn down the furnace, its the librarian that is hot.

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