February 27, 2006
A View from the Stacks: That Guy From ER Is A Librarian?
So it seems that Noah Wyle just wrapped up production on a follow up film to 2004’s The Librarian: Quest for the Spear called (I hope temporarily) Librarian 2.
Frankly, I am outraged.
Dr. Carter is no librarian. I have never, in my life, seen a male librarian who looks like Noah Wyle. Or, for that matter, have I ever heard of a librarian having to go on a quest to find a missing artifact with a skilled marital arts lady. How dare Dr. Carter insinuate that male librarians are attractive, albeit meek, and go on adventures. I have to say that that sort of stereotype really damages the profession as a whole.
(Sarcasm is hard to infer through typing. Just for the record, the above statement is a joke. I think Noah Wyle is great. But George Clooney is better.)
A few days ago, one of my favorite “librarians portrayed in film” movies was on TV. From one library blog to another, this film is mentioned, generally in a good light. The story, or so it goes, is about a young woman, in debt, who takes a job as a library clerk to earn money (and oh, can I relate). Later in the movie, she decides that she does not hate the job as much as she thought, and in fact wants to get her master’s degree in library sciences. Parker Posey plays the main character of this film (before her Scream 3 days).
Anyways, the title of the film is what I like the most. Not just because it goes counter to the stereotypes of librarians, but because I can identify: Party Girl.
Actually, I don’t throw, nor go to many parties, but I like to believe I am fun. And parties should be fun. If you go to a boring party, you might as well just mill around a 7-11 for a while. At least you have access to cheap beer there. And sometimes, when librarians get so upset about their portrayal by the greater society, they forget to have fun. And in circumstances where you feel slighted by a particular way someone has shown the profession, it is far better to have fun (especially if the alternative is being catty). In fact, librarians should have a lot of fun breaking profession stereotypes. If you think the sexy librarian is an inaccurate portrayal, then leave your stilettos in the closet (but don’t forget about them). And if you think a pencil should be for writing and not anchoring a bun on the back of your head, don’t make it your life’s work to have all pencils removed from the library, just don’t put one in your hair.
As someone who looks forward to becoming a degree holding librarian, I have to say that I am worried that maybe the profession suffers from not having enough fun at our own expense. Certain stereotypes are harmful, and I am in no way saying that they should be taken lightly. But to get upset about how a costume designer dresses an actor who is playing a librarian is simply foreign to me. Even worse, however, is when librarians get upset with each other for just being themselves. As far as I know, no one librarian has the power to “set back the profession” by the way they look, dress or choose to accessorize. If so, that would be one influential person. So influential that they may even be able to save the TV show Arrested Development from being officially cancelled.
What makes Party Girl such a great film is that it dares to not make a statement about librarians (plural). Instead, it just tells a story about a librarian (singular). Which, in a way, is statement itself: we are a profession of individuals. Who knows how to have fun.
In our own individual sort of way.
P.S. For more on one aspect of this topic, please take a minute to look through the upcoming March issue of AALL’s Spectrum. When you come across the article written by Ms. Tina Ching, please stop what you are doing and read it. As usual, she has written a thought provoking, and highly entertaining, piece on the subject of capturing the librarian image on camera.
Stina McClintock, Library Technician, King County Law Library (Seattle)
Editor's Note: My heart sank when I read "I have never, in my life, seen a male librarian who looks like Noah Wyle." Then I remembered Stina and I have never met in person. Then I looked in the mirror and decided that our not meeting was probably a good thing.
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The lovely Ms. McClintock writes (jokingly, or so she claims) that she's never seen a male librarian who looks like Noah Wyle. This begs the (joking, or so I claim) question: has she ever seen a female librarian who does? ;-)
Posted by: Roy L. Sturgeon | Feb 27, 2006 3:31:15 AM