October 14, 2012

Male Librarian




















Aloha Record and Ravonne Green wrote an article in 2008 entitled "Examining Gender Issues and Trends in Library Management from the Male Perspective", which discusses males in librarianship. They sum up the stereotype of the male librarian by writing, “male heterosexual librarians have a palpable, but potentially unfounded fear of being perceived as gay. He [Carmichael] concluded that these (mis)perceptions reflect the insecurities that they feel as a result of marginalization within a feminized profession” (pg. 196). Librarianship has somewhat recently become the domain of women, and men rarely enter the field unless they take administrative or technology jobs. As such, men who enter the field believe they will be perceived as gay or weak because they could not get a “real” job. The representations in media seem to follow this line of thought by making their male librarians mousey, weak characters. Although, perhaps some would argue that there is no such thing as bad publicity, I tend to disagree. While I am glad that male librarians are now entering media, I wish they were depictions that are more realistic. A couple examples follow: 




Cascada "Everytime We Touch"; track one on Everytime We Touch  2006

The librarian in Cascada’s music video is a male portrayed as a mousey, weak, young character wearing a sweater vest and glasses—the fashion of a much older man. The young man makes a small effort (gesturing) to stop Cascada from ruining the library by dancing on furniture and throwing cards out of the card catalog. However, she ignores his request and does not respect his authority, which is clearly seen when she takes off his glasses and throws them before she shoves him. The man eventually ignores her and attempts to straighten up the card catalog. When the fantasy of the music video kicks in and all the patrons in the library start dancing with her, the male librarian is seen apart from the other patrons, which reinforces his lack of power. The video ends with him running off with Cascada, which is beyond any comprehension. The video is a clear slap in the face to any librarian, but especially to males. He is a powerless, weak, mousey character whose patrons physically assault him. It could not be a worse illustration. 



Buffy the Vampire Slayer; various episodes created by Joss Whedon 1997-2003

Edmund Rupert Giles, more commonly referred to simply as Giles, played by Anthony Stewart Head, is the librarian at Buffy Summer’s high school. He is English, hyper-intelligent, stuffy, wears glasses, and must be rescued by Buffy more than once. While he is not a gay character, he is a weak character. He spends most of his time in the library, fussing over books, but never actually doing much work. Giles is far from a depiction of a “macho man” or the male librarian illustrated in The Librarian movies. This representation of Giles as a male librarian negatively influences the way society views males in the profession. Instead of being a “normal” man who is doing his job, Giles is shown as weak, effeminate caricature of a male librarian. 

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous4/29/2015

    I know this is an old post, and I'm not even sure if the blog is still active. But I'm a male who was interested in pursuing an mls (I'm a student working part-time) until I realized what a stigma it is to work in a female-dominated profession. I like my job, it's the only one that I've had that I've actually done well in compared the the many jobs that I've had in the past. I just can't get passed the negative view, though.

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    1. Thank you for your comment! When I started this blog I was working towards my MLIS (I have since graduated) and now work in a public library. In our system we have several males who work for the library in various roles (reference, supervisors, part-time shelvers, volunteers, etc.). There is still the stigma and the stereotype (that none of our staff falls into) but I think it's still an incredibly great career to pursue and something that new, young library staff like myself (and maybe you?) will just have to work on combating. I will be happy to talk with you further or help in any way I can.

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  3. Hello,

    I'm the original poster. Thanks for the reply. I agree that the stigma is something that needs to be overcome, though it's not much of a concern for me anymore. I know that it would be much worse for me to go into something else that I don't have any interest in, so I've decided that I'm going to stick with the plan in pursuing an MLIS. What interested you in working in a public setting?

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