Occupational Preoccupation

I went to work at the library on Saturday dressed as a librarian. Hair pulled back, cardigan, sensible shoes, blah blah blah. (Fortunately, my vision is still ok, so I didn’t top it off with a pair of glasses perched on my nose.) I was a stereotypical librarian.

I hate the stereotype. It drives me nuts. Librarian is one of the only occupations I can think of that has such a preoccupation with its image. I chose Saturday’s outfit because I wanted to wear my new cardigan, not because I was feeling particularly librarian-y that day. I actually felt self-conscious before I left my apartment because I thought I looked too much like a librarian. Isn’t this generation of librarians supposed to defy the stereotype? To rid this and the next generation of librarians of this burden forever?

A few months ago, in an attempt to abate my distaste for the librarian stereotype, I read a book about it. Turns out, that only made it worse. There were all kinds of examples of librarians who were young and ambitious and had tattoos and were doing great library-related things, all without looking like librarians. I think that’s wonderful, but why does it matter what they look like?

Instead of trying to aggressively defy the librarian look, why not just ignore it? I will continue to wear what I feel like wearing to work, regardless of whether it fits the preconceived image of how I “should” look. If I can be a good librarian, it doesn’t matter whether or not I look like a librarian. My plan is to passively shatter the librarian stereotype by just being myself.


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