Pop Goes the Library

Using Pop Culture to Make Libraries Better.

by Sophie Brookover, Liz Burns, Melissa Rabey, Susan Quinn, John Klima, Carlie Webber, Karen Corday, and Eli Neiburger. We're librarians. We're pop culture mavens. We're Pop Culture Librarians.


Welcome, Slate Readers

And also: congratulations, Melissa, on being one of the bloggers linked-to from Slate's coverage of the "Hipper Brand of Shushers" kerfuffle (scroll down, we're at the very bottom of the page). We have a love-hate relationship with Slate here at Pop, largely due to their consistently wrong-headed approach to literature for children & teens. This, however, qualifies as a true love moment. Thanks to Sonia Smith for choosing to highlight Melissa's post, and happy almost birthday, Issa!

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free yourself from stereotypes!

A Hipper Crowd of Shushers

Okay, I'm going to get up on a soapbox for a moment.

I know many people would look at this article and go, "Oh, cool, coverage of how librarians aren't all like that dreaded stereotype." But I read articles like this, and I still want to throw the article across the room, with as much force as possible. Do you know why?

We're exchanging one stereotype for another.

Why are we so eager to be pigeonholed into another niche? Just as many people don't respond to librarians because they're thinking of the glasses, bun, and shushing, there are just as many people who won't respond to tattoos, pink hair, and loud voices. Yet we're so desperate not to be seen as fuddy-duddies that we're swinging too much to the other side of the spectrum, where you have to be cooler than cool to be a librarian.

I love being a librarian. I love talking about books. I love answering questions. I love reading blog posts and using del.icio.us and sending text messages. But I'd never consider myself a 'hipster librarian'. For one thing, since I joke that I'm mentally twelve years old, I know I'll never be cool enough to be a hipster librarian. But also, there's a part of me that delights in doing the unexpected, in going against the crowd. I was a teen in the early nineties, so when everyone else was listening to grunge, I was listening to show tunes. Instead of hanging out at the mall, I was reading.

When I see a group all eager to promote one way of being a librarian, I'm not going to follow that crowd. I may do all the things they do, but I don't look like they do. And that's okay, you know? For both them and me, our outward appearances don't affect the tasks we do, the service we give. I just hate the thought that in some minds, appearances and performance are linked, and the only way you can be a cool librarian is to have an eyebrow piercing or go out for drinks that are identified by Dewey call numbers.

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