Cart-pimpers and cat counselors
May 18, 2011 11:28 PM   Subscribe

What is a library? What do librarians do? Librarians from the 2011 ALIA conference in Sydney respond - and their answers can be surprising.
posted by divabat (24 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those aren't librarians, They're Australians!
posted by parmanparman at 11:46 PM on May 18, 2011


There's probably a lot of travel agents out there clucking their tongues saying "we warned you!" (not librarian-ist)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:02 AM on May 19, 2011


The library was always a refuge for me growing up. I went every day during the summers growing up and library time at school was always my favorite. In high school it was where I ate my lunch so I could read the acoustics source book or an original copy of the 1954 Armed Forces Officer handbook. In college it was the place to absorb and cross reference all of the whirring bees that were stinging the varied interests in my mind all in one place, with the satisfaction that only comes, from holding the thick canvas bound engineering reference manuals; many of which were available online - but those versions don't smell like solder and blown capacitors.

The tall book stacks create a maze that is easy to get lost in to retreat from the hurries of work or school or friends. The quiet allows for deep thought and lack of distraction from others' worries or intrusions.

And then there are the books. Who doesn't love a hardbound leather wrapped book, or books whose creators pored over every detail of their design and content. That is a surrounding you cannot create architecture for - and no paint or wallpaper could come close to matching it. Not all books of course are this way - but there are always the old sections which sweat with care and the hope that knowledge will be inside.
posted by AndrewKemendo at 12:07 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was head librarian in my school (got the badge to prove it stuck in a drawer somewhere). Perks included a quiet place to eat your lunch, unlimited borrowing, access to the PRESTEL machine and we got to hang out with our cool English teacher. Hello, Mr Preece! Refuge is spot on, it was a sanctuary from the school cliques and hayfever during the summer.
posted by arcticseal at 12:17 AM on May 19, 2011


When I tell people I am a librarian, the reaction is invariably one or more of the following:
  1. "Hey, neat!"
  2. "So do you work at the big library downtown?"
  3. Something about the Dewey Decimal System.
No one ever has any idea what I actually do. (Perl and SQL, mostly.)

It would be interesting to see this video intercut with footage of library patrons answering the same questions.
posted by twirlip at 12:52 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is a library?

What people did before the Internet.

What do librarians do?

Look for jobs on the Internet.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 1:33 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Librarians are the most hateful bum-pimples that ever sat in a room full of books telling people to "shhh". I hate librarians, and I can't think of a punishment too severe for them. At the very least, they should all be impaled on a giant toothpick, dipped into boiling hot salsa and then eaten alive by a sasquatch.

Librarians are the self-appointed high priests of the ancient and evil book-God, BIBLIOS-RA. I despise all organised religion, especially that which venerates the false messiah of "reading". Reading has caused more deaths than cancer multiplied by scrofula, and is responsible for all the wars in the world, raised to the power of all the famines. People who enjoy reading so-called "books" should be rounded up and put into death camps and made to do death-camping activities like death-canoeing and telling death-stories around a death-fire.

Some of the younger members of the MetaFilter community may ask: "MC quidnunc, why y'all hatin' on librarians, my main gigabitch?" Well, let me just say that ol' quidnuncster the kidfunkster has racked up a few library fines in his time, 'cos I is like a well hard criminal innit. And I is got a REPUTATION to maintain, my hoary bigglesworths. So if you see a librarian comin' my way gimme a yell innit cause this MC gotta flee, you kindle? q-Kid out, my ferrets. Peace.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:56 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


You're trying too hard.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:02 AM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, good point. Maybe I'll go hate on some social workers.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:14 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing sexier than a sexy librarian is one sexy librarian helping another sexy librarian. Why people browse porn at the library when they could just sit quietly and watch the action at the help desk or moving along behind a book cart, I have no idea. Congress... control... Dewey... dewy... Bliss!
posted by pracowity at 2:36 AM on May 19, 2011


they could just sit quietly and watch the action at the help desk

So that's why it's always so busy in the reading room when I'm working the reference desk. Just remember ladies (and interested gentleman), you can browse, but I don't circulate.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:16 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's pretty disgusting that you guys are laughing at the sexual exploitation of librarians. Librarians are NOT sexual objects - they are actually well-knowledged book chungers, innit. One time me and my gang was kotchin' at a well nang library an' a safa librarian cum up an' dun a boom-boom set on the grimies. We woz all, crump! bare dancin' an stuff an' then my rents turned up an' I was well vexed and the whole night was rinsed, my dufflecoats. So bare respect for them library jacksons. KEEP IT SUCKLED!!!1!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:41 AM on May 19, 2011


quidnunc kid's having an episode.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:46 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


you can browse, but I don't circulate.

Are you dog eared? Well thumbed? How's your spine holding out?
posted by pracowity at 5:50 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fucking libraries, how do they work?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:08 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


How is liberry formed?
posted by Zippity Goombah at 6:51 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I tell people I am a librarian, the reaction is invariably one or more of the following:

Never "4. Really? I'm a capricornian!"?
posted by Grangousier at 7:06 AM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


The framing made me think of Look Around You.
posted by boo_radley at 8:45 AM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my god, boo_radley, I freaking love that show. I will never forget the matter-of-fact "germs come from Germany" line. It freaking cracks me up.
posted by Tarumba at 10:22 AM on May 19, 2011


Librarians have taken over from poets as being the unacknowledged legislators of the world.
posted by anothermug at 10:49 AM on May 19, 2011


I fear that so many of the librarians I know and work with spend too much of their time trying to convince people that librarians are relevant and cool and can even play games and all that, while I love libraries, librarians have become annoying. They should stop writing blogs, making speeches and working on their hipster cred and start helping the rest of us library staff who are serving the patrons.
posted by QIbHom at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Librarians are alright.
posted by oddman at 10:53 AM on May 19, 2011


I have had carnal knowledge of librarians, including myself.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:23 PM on May 19, 2011


divabat: What is a library?

It's an old fashioned analog bit torrent site.
posted by paisley henosis at 4:58 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


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