Librarian Stereotypes

by Jeff Vogt

It seems everyone has an idea about how a typical librarian looks and acts. This is an enormous challenge in our profession. The librarian stereotype is a battle that is still being fought today—a challenge that has been constant for at least the last century and persists despite many examples to the contrary.

The stereotype of the librarian begins with gender. A librarian is most likely a woman. It’s true that women do dominate the profession. Age is another factor. The average age of a librarian is 45. According to many authors on the subject, the stereotypical attire for a librarian include black dresses or skirts, baggy pantyhose, eye glasses, and of course long grey or mousey brown hair pinned up in a bun. There is little accuracy or basis for this stereotype. There is no dress code in the profession. However, the stereotype of an older woman as a librarian has a long history. Unfortunately most television and films reinforce this stereotype.

What can we do about changing this stereotype? One suggestion is changing the title. Since librarian work includes more resources than books perhaps the name is now outdated. Suggestions for a new title include “Director of Information Resources, “Information Services Manager”, and “Services Coordinator”. During the past eight years as a school librarian, I have had three different titles. When I started the title was “Library Media Specialist”. That title was changed a few years ago to “Teacher Librarian”. Last year when I worked in two elementary schools my title was “Media Center Teacher”.

Another suggestion would be to do what would not be expected from a librarian. As librarians, we should all go against type. We should drive fast cars. Be the life of parties. Maybe there should be a hot new reality show about us. I think I would watch that show.

However, the best type of action would be to lead by example. We should dress and act professionally. We should do our job to the best of our ability. Our profession needs more diversity. Fortunately more men are entering the profession now due to increasing technology. Younger librarians are breaking the stereotypical look with hipper clothing, tattoos, and piercings. Napa Valley Unified School District has Teacher Librarians and Library clerks that represent three different generations.

Unfortunately, the stereotype isn’t going to change overnight. However, we could change the public perception one library patron at a time.

Jeff Vogt

Jeff Vogt

Jeff Vogt has been a Teacher Librarian since 2005. He currently covers four middle schools in Napa Valley Unified School District including American Canyon Middle School, Harvest Middle School, Redwood Middle School, and Silverado Middle School. Jeff currently holds a multiple-subject credential and a School Librarian Credential. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Library and Information Science program at San Jose State University.


Poetry and Spring: Soul Nourishment

by Jennifer Wodlinger
Teacher Librarian, Calistoga Joint Unified School District

The early onset of spring and beautiful weather draws me to reading material that awakens my senses a little more playfully than the Goodwin biography on Theodore Roosevelt that held me captive for several winter, rainy Sunday afternoons. Mr. Roosevelt and Ms. Goodwin would agree; it’s time for some light spring reading!

It’s time to embark on the outdoors and what better place than the beautiful Napa Valley to find a picnic spot with a book of poetry in hand.

Poetry is essential spring reading. A poet can arouse our interests with human experience that brings figurative language to life. Poetry is personal fulfillment in short segments that evoke emotions of love, fear, anger, happiness, defeat, sorrow, and joy. Poetry allows students the freedom to establish a point of view that may be different from their peers or teachers.

National Poetry Month, celebrated in April since 1996, provides a perfect opportunity for school librarians to dust off the 811’s and connect with students on an aesthetic level.

Looking for some ideas for poetry projects? The Academy of American Poets offers several fun ideas, and here is my favorite:
poem in your pocket
Select a poem you love and carry it with you on Poem in Your Pocket Day, Thursday, April 21. Sharing a poem with co-workers, family, and friends might spark some interest and conversation.

Ideas and suggestions for poetry lessons are abundant through educational websites such as Edutopia, School Library Journal, and Read, Write, Think.

In recent years, poetry has gained more recognition by teachers because of the significant role it plays in the Common Core State Standards. The Poetry Friday Anthology crosses the curriculum by bringing the Poetry Friday concept into classrooms for five minutes every Friday to explore a poem that connects with children’s lives. These are teachable moments in reinforcing language skills on every level. anthology

Poetry allows students to connect to culture, near and far. It provides an avenue for personal fulfillment on many levels while enlightening the reader with aesthetic viewpoints on other human experiences. Poetry engages students in reading and learning about cultural events, beliefs, and traditions. Poetry nourishes the soul!

Jennifer Wodlinger

Jennifer Wodlinger

Jennifer has been an educator for over thirty years, and is currently the Teacher Librarian for Calistoga Joint Unified School District. She enjoys collaborating with teachers to implement technology and 21st century learning into collaborative lessons. She worked as elementary school teacher in Missouri and received her Library Science certification from Missouri State University in 1995. Jennifer recently moved to Santa Rosa, CA from Grand Junction, CO., where she worked as a Teacher Librarian at Redlands Middle School for ten years. She was a member of Colorado’s Power Library Project and her school had the distinction of being a High Performance Power Library. She is currently enrolled in a Master’s program at Touro University and plans to graduate in August with an MA Ed. in Innovative Learning.