Librarians vs. Libraries

This weekend, I was watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and besides having “Moon River” stuck in my head all weekend, I couldn’t help but notice how this clip tied into the discussions we’ve been having about librarians:

Besides being grateful that we don’t have to sit and wait for our number to be called to get a book, elements of this antiquated view of libraries are still present today. I couldn’t help but notice that when Audrey Hepburn’s character, Holly, tried to have a conversation with the librarian and the book, the librarian shushed her.

The general public still has this idea of shushing rather than conversation. And people who hold this view still today, can’t really come to terms with the fact that libraries go beyond the physical building. I thought it was interesting in class last week when Professor Lankes mentioned that we are one of the only professions that are named after our building, and how most people take pride in that. Even in the clip when Holly and Paul walked into the library, the first thing she said was, “I don’t see any books.” Today, if we were to take out all the books and still call it a library, people would still ask where they were and be confused at why the librarians were calling themselves librarians, without the books.

I’m curious to see, in future films, if the stereotype of the librarian will change in any way. I would hope they would show her helping set up for a lunch business on the lawn (as we learned in class), interacting with students on a project, lead an instructional lesson or something that goes beyond standing behind a desk and silencing conversation. I think popular culture plays a big role in how we view librarians, and it’s hard to get past it.

I think to counteract that stereotype, and to create a new one, librarians like the ones Professor Lankes mentioned in class, need to be talked about more. Hopefully, patrons won’t leave saying that, “I don’t think this place is half as nice as Tiffany’s.” I mean, Tiffany’s is sort of hard to top, but we can try.

Breakfast At Tiffany’s. 1961. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC64DJkM5YA.

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