Friday, July 13, 2007

Hipster Librarians

Even the “paper of record” is guilty of publishing “dog bites man” stories; this one, on the rise of “hipster librarians,” that I linked to from the blog of an unintentionally hipster librarian herself, Kendra K., strikes me as hardly newsworthy given the obviousness of the story it alleges to be presenting—after all, librarians have always been hip, as long as your hipness antenna are appropriately tuned.

My view on this is tainted, of course, by having had an overdose of librarians in my life. My mom got her Master’s in Library Science when I was in grade school and so I grew up with the peculiar brand of hipness that such training inculcates. (I was the only kid in my 5th grade class, for instance, who included footnotes in his shoebox dioramas.)

My sister and her boyfriend are also librarians, and they occasionally come out here to Seattle for conferences, so even now I get to see the grooviness that is the contemporary librarian as evidenced by their conference schwag that is cool enough to function as unexpected presents for my daughter and her friends.

The stereotype of the square librarian is, I guess, fostered principally in works of popular culture like “The Music Man,” with its Marian “the librarian” Paroo; but even Professor Harold Hill—a hipster if there ever was one—saw through the bun and glasses to the hidden spitfire, a “don’t judge a book by its cover” lesson that Ms. Paroo could have given him a slew of references for.

In Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” when Harry Bailey sees the world as it would be had he never been born, his lovely and vibrant wife, Mary, is turned into an uptight bespectacled spinster librarian—at least on the outside. (If we could see the books she’s checked out, we would probably recognize her hidden hipness.)

I’m sure it’s only a matter of time, now, before the Times publishes a story on hipster philosophers.



Post a Comment

<< Home