Monday, June 30, 2008

Guybrarians are not freaks of nature

I recently saw this article from The Ledger in Florida about Guybrarians. So am I kind of a freak? If one goes by the headline in the article, one would say I am sort some sort of creature from the endangered species list. Sasquatch has better odds of being sighted than a male librarian. To put things in perspective, I will say that I am one of two male librarians in my library out seven librarians total. Not too shabby, if you ask my director who is simply thrilled at the diversity we males bring to her library. I understand the article is trying to make the point that librarianship can be a good career for men, but in doing so, we end up looking like rare birds anyways.

I can't say that librarianship was the path that I always knew I would follow. It was not part of some master plan. But I have often said that if someone had told me about this sooner, I would have simply gone to library school right after my first masters without the extra hassle of trying for a doctorate that I dropped, in large part because of the dismal market humanities doctoral graduates face. I call myself the gypsy librarian, but it is not because I want to work five academic jobs without benefits and with exploitative conditions. That I was not happy with certain departmental politics in my major (and a couple of professors more interested in their image and in pruning students than actually helping them), plus the fact I was working as an instructional assistant at the library sort of led me down the path I am following now. I was also fortunate. I had a librarian who said to me that I would make a good librarian, and for some reason, I actually bought it. I transfered to library school, and the rest, as they say, is history. I am about to finish my fourth year as a professional librarian, and overall, I am pretty happy. I do agree with Randall McDonald's description of a librarian "as being a sort of jack-of-all-trades, a perfect job for a person who likes reading, technology, history and has a general interest in knowledge." I would add it is a pretty good line of work for a generalist, for someone not bound by disciplines, for someone with a curious mind, and very importantly for someone who likes working with people. In my case, I have found my previous teaching experience to be an asset. Unfortunately, I am in a position now where those skills are not in high demand, but that is another story. Overall, for me at least, what brought me to librarianship is the opportunity to work with students and hopefully make some difference in their academic success. Anyhow, I am just another librarian in the trenches.

P.S. As I was about to publish this, I came across the story from LISNews about the Black male librarian as endangered species (NPR story here). So, is the Latino male librarian close to extinction as well? How about the Asian American male librarian? Are we now moving to some kind of journalistic meme where we ask if males of any ethnicity in librarianship are in danger of extinction now? And while I do think we can use more representation from different groups in our profession, somehow the tone of these stories does not seem right. Just a thought.

3 comments:

Mark said...

Hey now, let's not forget the career military male librarian. ;-)

I do agree the tone of these articles is somewhat bothersome. And what the heck is with "guybrarian" anyway? It's not like the lib- in "librarian" comes from any feminine etymology.

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Mark:

Oh, you we have to put in one of those glass-like enclosures they use in zoos. It would be like the pandas the San Diego Zoo is leasing from the Chinese, that's how rare you are, haha.

Me? I am more like one of the "freaks" in P.T. Barnum's circus. ;)

And by the way, when you figure out what a guybrarian is, let me know.

Best, and keep on blogging.

Morgan said...

I'm currently working in a 7 person library, and for the first time ever, I'm in the majority. There are 4 men and 3 women. To be honest, I was a little worried at first, because it was so different from what I've been used to. But it's been good. I wouldn't say it's better or worse than being in a library with a female majority - other that it's been a good opportunity for me to learn to work well with other guys. I'm so used to only needing how to work with women.