Join 3,438 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


decimalize
July 6, 2007 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Hipster librarians. What, exactly, do these archivists do?
posted by four panels (80 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm surprised this wasn't written by Jennifer 8. Lee.
posted by delmoi at 11:32 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


Doh- I posted it to MeTa....
posted by gen at 11:35 PM on July 6, 2007


Libertines.
posted by stavrogin at 11:55 PM on July 6, 2007


I don't know anything about this trend, nor of the people involved, but my personal opinion is that the use of the word guybrarian must be stopped here and now. Because, seriously.
posted by Stan Chin at 11:57 PM on July 6, 2007


Wow, good thing a bunch of hipsters in Williamsburg are making efforts to demonstrate that cute young librarians can like The White Stripes TV on the Radio and Chuck Palahniuk Jonathan Safran-Foer as much as the next vapid twenty-something. What's next, an art collective of vegan actuaries? Williamsburg and the surrounding ultra-gentrifying neighborhoods of 'hip librarians' are the only things I despise about New York.

These aren't even the good kind of nerds, like MST3K fans.
posted by inoculatedcities at 12:23 AM on July 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


What is this article actually about? OK, librarians are getting hipper--does that just mean that there are more young librarians, or that our culture is giving more props to the information literate, or that there is actually a new subculture emerging among this crowd with its own tastes and values?

Seriously, I'd like to know. I get the impression that this, er, entire section of the magazine assumes that I'm somehow both interested in hipness and not interested in clarifying the concept. Not sure how that works.

Pity, it's a well-written article. It gives a fine impression, if not much else.
posted by LogicalDash at 12:24 AM on July 7, 2007


No offense, Jessamyn. I'm sure you give props to MST3K.
posted by inoculatedcities at 12:24 AM on July 7, 2007


Wear sexy glasses? Just a guess.
posted by Mblue at 12:28 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Stan Chin, I'm with you on guybrarian. It's almost as bad as when folks called me a 'manny' back when I was taking care of a couple of kids before I went to Library School.
And for the record, not all of us live in Williamsburg.
And some of us are still the good kind of nerd.
posted by Hadroed at 12:40 AM on July 7, 2007


Well, I suppose it's not more laden with mouth-agape astonishment that all librarians aren't like the forbidding crone in "Citizen Kane" than any other typical featurey news article.
posted by blucevalo at 12:57 AM on July 7, 2007


Hip young librarians fight humidity in the conservatory.
posted by longsleeves at 1:23 AM on July 7, 2007


with the plants and the wetness and the dripping!!!
posted by longsleeves at 1:24 AM on July 7, 2007


longsleeves trip DAMN POOF,,,
posted by Mblue at 1:56 AM on July 7, 2007


"the job is stable, intellectually stimulating and can have reasonable hours — perfect for creative types who want to pursue their passions outside of work and don’t want to finance their pursuits by waiting tables."

Oh. Cool. My profession is really just something for people to do to fill in time while they're waiting for their big break doing something else.

While I'm whining, I'm pretty sure that Dewey (out of library comic Unshelved) wouldn't be described as a hipster, either.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:11 AM on July 7, 2007


Jessamyn West, 38, an editor of “Revolting Librarians Redux: Radical Librarians Speak Out” a book that promotes social responsibility in librarianship, and the librarian behind the Web site librarian.net (its tagline is “putting the rarin’ back in librarian since 1999”) agreed that many new librarians are attracted to what they call the “Library 2.0” phenomenon. “It’s become a techie profession,” she said.

In a typical day, Ms. West might send instant and e-mail messages to patrons, many of who do their research online rather than in the library. She might also check Twitter, MySpace and other social networking sites, post to her various blogs and keep current through MetaFilter and RSS feeds. Some librarians also create Wikis or podcasts.


Aw, we keep #2 current. *basks in warm glow*
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:18 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Doh- I posted it to MeTa....

D'oh - I missed that.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:22 AM on July 7, 2007


I crashed the couch of a few librarians when I was in Canada a couple weeks back. Apparently what they do, is they all work for various ask a librarian websites. Which according them are websites for people who don't know how to use google.
posted by gally99 at 3:03 AM on July 7, 2007


What is this article actually about?

It's about the fact that there are some really goddamn cute librarians out there. The section title is Fashion. Roll with it.
posted by blacklite at 3:10 AM on July 7, 2007


Someone writes a nice (yes, vaguely stupid) article about nerds and I look in and read that they "aren't even the good kind of nerds". Nerds are the new communists now? Hate no one more than the next faction but one over?

And those people really don't look like "hipsters", to me. They look like nerds, and more power to their cataloguing elbows for doing so. And I'm guessing that they do exactly what they've always done, archive and organise information, I really didn't realise that the internet had made those skills redundant.

Unite, comrades, unite!
posted by howfar at 3:22 AM on July 7, 2007


I'm still a fan of Librarian 1.0 but alas. Let's just hope that amidst all the fetishization of trendy signifiers and technology somebody is actually remembering to take care of the books.

And, heh, yeah, there's a good kind of nerd. Sheesh. People will believe anything.
posted by nixerman at 4:53 AM on July 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Mblue, thanks for that link. I've been an oddity among my friends for years now for finding glasses extremely attractive when worn by women. Glad to see I'm not alone.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:57 AM on July 7, 2007


"the job is stable, intellectually stimulating and can have reasonable hours — perfect for creative types who want to pursue their passions outside of work and don’t want to finance their pursuits by waiting tables."

Oh. Cool. My profession is really just something for people to do to fill in time while they're waiting for their big break doing something else.


What I choose to take away from that first bit is that librarianship is a steady gig that I don't have to take home with me once the whistle blows at the end of the day (i.e. yes, it allows me to persue my passions outside of work). No checking my Blackberry for emails from my boss while I'm at the pub for me!
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:01 AM on July 7, 2007


If anyone calls me a guybrarian, I think I'm going to have to shush them.
posted by stinkycheese at 6:12 AM on July 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


"I remember when the librarian was a much older woman. Kindly, discreet, unattractive." You do wonder how Mr. Bookman would take to this little lot.
posted by howfar at 6:15 AM on July 7, 2007


I love articles from the New York Times where they notice ASTONISHING trends such as Young People Have Jobs Too. Gainful Employment Has No Effect on Fashion Sense. Traditionally Female Jobs Pay Better if You Have a Penis (oops, they missed that part about librarians).
posted by nax at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


"the fetishization of trendy signifiers"

Yes. It makes me queasy even when librarians do it.

From the NYT article: "the median salary for librarians was about $51,000 in 2006." That's nice anyway. But what are "thrift-store inspired clothes"? You mean Hip, Now, With-It TrendyNerds are paying lots of money to look poor, a la Mary Kate and Ashley? Why not shop at actual thrift stores?

As inoculatedcities said, "What's next, an art collective of vegan actuaries?" Who complain because there are too many thrift stores and not enough cool-looking parking garages?

Must everything be gentrified?
posted by davy at 6:59 AM on July 7, 2007


By the way, in the Louisville Free Public Library system librarians don't shush people, security guards do.
posted by davy at 7:02 AM on July 7, 2007


Shock!! Horror!! Some twenty-something librarians are JUST LIKE some other twenty-somethings!!!

Seconding nax above, especially on the salary breakdown; the NYT $51k figure covers the entire career spectrum, including senior administration/management; entry-level, like the folks in the article, is likely to be closer to mid-30s.

Is there a librarian's drinking club in the Boston area?
posted by nonane at 7:11 AM on July 7, 2007


I found this really funny. The whole article was predicated on the assumption that librarians used to be quiet, harpy drones whole lived boring sexless lives, and that libraries are endangered institutions that really serve as holding pens for homeless people.

I'm a librarian, a guy not a guybrarian (perhaps a gaybrarian? boybrarian), and like most of my friends I left another career I hated because of the people in the field. But I think this is true for generations of us. Librarians, or those who like being librarians, enjoy helping people, don't like corporate values, and are tolerant of eccentricities.


I kind of expected to be looked down upon, but though people assume I'm underpaid and get to read all day long, they often express interest in and respect for what I do.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:12 AM on July 7, 2007


oops. Career I hated to become a librarian, because I liked the people...(Don't quite have the detail oriented thing down)
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:20 AM on July 7, 2007


"Librarians...don't like corporate values, and are tolerant of eccentricities."

Huh? Is that required now? I'm all for all those good things, but I thought librarians were supposed to be literate people who knew how to categorize and find information, such as books and their contents.
posted by davy at 7:27 AM on July 7, 2007


I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. I'm sure there are some corporate minded librarians. I would imagine they are a little lonely, but then again, we all move in our own circles.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:31 AM on July 7, 2007


The point is I don't care about your politics or your facial piercings, I want you to help me find more M. I. Finley.
posted by davy at 7:37 AM on July 7, 2007


Unfortunately, some corporate-think has snuck into libraries - which is probably just as attributable to the increase in technology as the appearance of 'techy people'. I'm noticing, at least in the public library where I work, a new emphasis on attracting business clients and business information in general, as well as concessions to advertising in the library (however subtle), and most esp. in how management speaks and the jargon they use.

The worst example is the move from calling our clientele 'customers' instead of 'patrons'. The rationale I was given for this is that, "people don't want to be patronized". Seriously.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:40 AM on July 7, 2007


I'm sure there are some corporate minded librarians.

Those would be librarians who have jobs in actual corporations, for example.
posted by gimonca at 7:40 AM on July 7, 2007


davy: When you go to the doctor, you probably just want to get a clean bill of health. That doesn't preclude there being certain things doctors have in common outside their offices though, right?
posted by stinkycheese at 7:41 AM on July 7, 2007


Yeah, I don't really know what to call the people who come into my library. Patron and customer both rub me the wrong way. Clients? Users? I'm not selling anything, I'm helping people. Sometimes they seem more like patients, but then again, I work in a hospital.

(And no, I don't talk to people about politics or pierce myself-- I just fork over the Finley, no questions asked!).
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:45 AM on July 7, 2007


I wear t-shirts, shorts, and sandals to my gig. Does this make me a slob librarian?
posted by doctorschlock at 7:54 AM on July 7, 2007


I have only one question: where were these librarians when I was a kid? I bet I wouldn't have had to sneak by them to get to the adult section.
posted by tommasz at 7:55 AM on July 7, 2007


There's plenty of corporate librarians. Companies generate massive quantities of paperwork and data, and organising them is precisely a librarian's skillset.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 AM on July 7, 2007


The corporate librarian types sound like this;

"Knowledge-driven corporate Web sites rely on both a consistent and intuitive design as well as a strong Information Architecture to increase findability. IBM's intranet and internet teams have evolved into groups of expert practitioners, including information managers, taxonomists, information architects and directory specialists who work together to help build IBM's information discovery experience. In this panel, core members of IBM's intranet and internet teams will discuss the accomplishments as well as the challenges associated taxonomy integration strategies and the collaborative development of corporate data standards to create consistent findability across IBM."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:01 AM on July 7, 2007


Yeah.....I sorta kinda was one of these 20-somethings when I was a children's librarian. I'm not now, since I moved to Chicago. They require a master's here.

I never played drinking games based on the Dewey system, though. Thank goodness.

But.....50K??? I wish! Maybe half of that. Granted, this wasn't NYC. But still....
posted by Windigo at 8:05 AM on July 7, 2007


The worst example is the move from calling our clientele 'customers' instead of 'patrons'. The rationale I was given for this is that, "people don't want to be patronized". Seriously.
posted by stinkycheese


Oh, they made it very clear to me that we were to refer to people as patrons, still, and never customers. It was stated in such a way to suggest that if I ever WAS to call a patron a customer, the ground would shake and open up, sending books flying everywhere.
posted by Windigo at 8:12 AM on July 7, 2007


The hipster librarian was a phenomenon in effect at least as long ago as the early '90s, when a youthful kittens for breakfast was a page at one. Which, yes, did essentially mean I was a junior warden at a day camp for homeless people. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:23 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


The point is I don't care about your politics or your facial piercings, I want you to help me find more M. I. Finley.

The point is, we can do both. There's a big divide in the profession as to whether librarians should be involved in social justice issues or not. From a public library perspective a lot of the stances the profession in general has -- the right to read whatever you want at any age, the right to privacy of your library record, the right to be free from censorship -- are all fairly progressive stances. Not that every librarian shares these, but as a starting point, it's not bad.

There are all sorts of different people and insititutions working against free access to information (i.e. if you take government money for your internet conenction you have to filter it according to the whims of the US Government, the closing down of the EPA libraries severely limiting public access to public documents, the USA PATRIOT Act and its extralegal mechanisms for subverting patron privacy) and so just standing up for maintaining the amount of access people now have becomes tantamount to activism in a weird way.

This has very little to do with where I buy my cute summer dresses [please!] or what sort of cocktails I like, but if they're willing to mash it all together in a high profile news (well, fashion) article I'm mostly okay with that.
posted by jessamyn at 8:24 AM on July 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wait, I don't have to take my work home with me? I am totally librarianing wrong. Sheesh.

FWIW, ALA's median salary figures include public and academic librarians. But, as an academic librarian married to a public librarian, it seems a little high to me too.
posted by activitystory at 8:30 AM on July 7, 2007


I wear t-shirts, shorts, and sandals to my gig. Does this make me a slob librarian?

Slobrarian!
posted by ericb at 8:31 AM on July 7, 2007


I work in Toronto's public system, and I never, ever have to do anything away from the office, so to speak. But I'm just a part-timer and therefore I'm not too involved in programs and stuff like that. But I get the impression that most of my co-workers don't have to take work home, either.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:33 AM on July 7, 2007


"Knowledge is power. Information is power. The secreting or hoarding of knowledge or information may be an act of tyranny camouflaged as humility." ~Robin Morgan
posted by Marianne at 9:09 AM on July 7, 2007


Hipsters colonize career with literate professionals and heavy technology usage. Film at 11.
posted by djlynch at 9:42 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The hipster librarian was a phenomenon in effect at least as long ago as the early '90s

Mid-80's if you ask me.
posted by 3.2.3 at 9:56 AM on July 7, 2007


So librarians need to buy some hipster eyeglasses?
posted by rolypolyman at 10:11 AM on July 7, 2007


How come nobody's reporting on the hep new crop of morticians I see springing up these days?

How 'bout the new generation of police officers who accessorize at the thrift store and sip clever apéritifs such as The Molotov Cocktail, or the You Have the Right to Remain Wasted?
posted by Demogorgon at 10:18 AM on July 7, 2007


Metafilter: an art collective of vegan actuaries
posted by djb at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2007


I hadn't heard guybrarian before, and I sort of wish I could block that piece of pop culture vocab from my brain now. Chances are it will fall out of my mouth at some point and I will regret it.

I went into librarianship for exactly the reasons stated in the article (good pay, reasonable hours, no taking work home), but discovered that while the first two descriptors held up, the third...well, I struggle with that one.

Let's just hope that amidst all the fetishization of trendy signifiers and technology somebody is actually remembering to take care of the books.

How much care do you think books require, out of curiosity?

I'm an instructional technology librarian (academic), and while technically my job is supposed to be all about playing with the fun web 2.0 wingdings and helping faculty to use technology in their teaching, most of the time I'm doing hardcore project management. Librarianship has a dearth of good managers, as does academia generally, and I can't say I'm surprised to see librarians here pooh-poohing management skills. God forbid anyone know how to run a tight ship in the library world! Or know how to motivate people and get projects finished on time!

For the record, I just had my two year anniversary as a working librarian, and my salary is above that median. I don't understand why librarians in the US are so poorly paid in comparison with their Canadian compatriots.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:33 AM on July 7, 2007


Me: "The point is I don't care about your politics or your facial piercings, I want you to help me find more M. I. Finley."

Jessamyn: "The point is, we can do both...."

I agree, and I'm grateful you and your "comrades" are fighting the good fight. But as you said, "this has very little to do with where [you] buy [your] cute summer dresses," and when I think of you as a librarian I think of those little "the FBI has not been here" signs, not of how cute you must look behind your terminal. And yes, to correct myself, that means I do appreciate the political stands you take that help you help me find information I want; it's just that I don't see requiring you to subscribe to the Platform or the Pledge of Resistance in order to be a librarian, so in your capacity as a librarian most of your political views, like how you dress, don't strike me as relevant to your librarianship. I'd rather have a dowdy, sour and Catholic librarian who's competent than a slutacious fashion-plate who can't tell Dewey from LOC (not that I mean to imply you are either, in case I'm failing again to write for toffee).

I guess what I'm objecting to is the "Gee whiz! It's the New Big Thing!" tone of the article and of some comments here; I'd rather the New York Times focus on the same issues you do. Besides, doesn't being featured in the New York Times kill a trend if it's not already rotting?
posted by davy at 10:45 AM on July 7, 2007


You know, they say, sometimes a man can learn more from another man's dreams than he can from his own.
posted by washburn at 10:46 AM on July 7, 2007


What, exactly, do these archivists do?

More like, what don't they do?

Rawr.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:58 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd rather the New York Times focus on the same issues you do.

Agreed. Though I'd have to say that the inclusion of me (and my years-old book) in an article that's basically about trendy Brooklyn/DC hipsters was at least a nod in that direction.
posted by jessamyn at 11:02 AM on July 7, 2007


Though I'd have to say that the inclusion of me (and my years-old book) in an article that's basically about trendy Brooklyn/DC hipsters was at least a nod in that direction.

Yep. I can attest that it's an absolutely fantastic book, too. One of the books that lifted me up and propelled me forward during some dark nights of the soul in library school.
posted by blucevalo at 11:10 AM on July 7, 2007


NYTimes: acquainting upwardly-mobile white people with what's hip these days since 1851
posted by killdevil at 11:54 AM on July 7, 2007


Ben Franklin was right: Public libraries are a necessary and vital tool of an informed and SEXY electorate.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:08 PM on July 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


The point is I don't care about your politics or your facial piercings, I want you to help me find more M. I. Finley.

<offtopic>
While I have no strong opinions regarding librarian fashion, I applaud any shoutout for Mr. Finley, who is among the finest classicists I know of and of whom I remain consistently and impossibly respectful. He, Mary Beard, Gilbert Highet, Moses Hadas, Martha Nussbaum, and Peter Green have all opened my eyes to antiquity in ways I wish I could articulate better.
</offtopic>
posted by cgc373 at 1:52 PM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


My old librarian garb was sneakers, jeans, and solid dark colored t-shirts. And glasses.

Maybe that's why I never had a female patron ask me to, ummm, sort her books...

Seriously, though, I do regret not having really followed up on library science as an alternative career path. I love helping people, and my passion for research is very well known among my cabal...
posted by Samizdata at 3:15 PM on July 7, 2007


How come nobody's reporting on the hep new crop of morticians I see springing up these days?

Like this guy?

People have reported on him.
posted by jason's_planet at 3:29 PM on July 7, 2007


Salary data is definitely not reflecting my reality, even though I'm a dude (and we totally have a line on the secret extra money the libraries have been hoarding all these years, but shhhhhh---if word gets out, we might have to spend it on books or something).
I guess I don't know any destitute, penniless librarians (at least not who are employed), though, so that's gotta mean something.
posted by willpie at 4:18 PM on July 7, 2007


There are these very intrenched ideas about librarians from people who don't use libraries. I hear about the sushing jokes all the time, but I've never been treated that way at work. Quite the opposite. One of the things that keeps me in libraries is the low asshat/moron quotient. I couldn't help but suspect the author of this hadn't been in a library for a very long time.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 4:30 PM on July 7, 2007


Previous Hipsters in The Library.
posted by ericb at 4:42 PM on July 7, 2007


meh
posted by yonation at 5:35 PM on July 7, 2007


More of us hip librarian types. Actually, the linked site is more than a bit grumpy. I'm more entertained when the posts on it are funny rather than just griping about the whackjobs who demand our polite assistance.
posted by ancientgower at 6:09 PM on July 7, 2007


I am SUCH a hip librarian that I am in epicenter of librarianship...cataloging! I can hide in the back room with my tattoo and peer at my Connexion client over the top of my chunky black glasses while pushing the dyed-black hair out of my face so I can read local holdings data with ease. SOOOOO fuckin' hip, I tell ya.

I am the only librarian on staff under 40 and the only one who uses technology with any understanding. I have to listen to my boss urgently tell me that we need rss feeds in our catalog in such a way that I know without a doubt that she has NO idea what an rss feed does or why we would need one. When I suggest using a wiki she freaks out and tells me we can't use open source software. I can see why the folks in the article want to go knock back a few after work with people they have something in common with.
posted by Biblio at 7:13 PM on July 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


I can see why the folks in the article want to go knock back a few after work with people they have something in common with.

Of course ... you need only "knock back" a Brooklyn brew (or, two, three or four) to be hip, hip, hip!!!
posted by ericb at 7:22 PM on July 7, 2007


Of course librarians are hip. See The Bellydancing Librarian. I actually know a chick who's studying to be a librarian (who was previously a library aide at my university) who belly dances—not the one linked, either. Apparently there's a whole society of them.
posted by limeonaire at 8:20 PM on July 7, 2007


Multiple belly dancing librarians.
posted by limeonaire at 8:22 PM on July 7, 2007


and yet...
posted by ulotrichous at 10:19 PM on July 7, 2007


still...
posted by ancientgower at 6:26 AM on July 8, 2007


"the job is stable, intellectually stimulating not too dull, and can have reasonable hours — perfect for creative types who want to pursue their passions outside of work and don’t want to finance their pursuits by waiting tables."

Actually, this profile describes most of the librarians I know, myself included. Librarianship--pardon--Information Science has always been a good gig for creative slackers. That's not such a bad thing.

I can't say I'm surprised to see librarians here pooh-poohing management skills.

We're just in it for the fashion, baby.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:09 PM on July 8, 2007


Ugh. Have to pass this on as part of the continuing conversation with the missus (a law librarian) over this push to show just how sexy, hip, and wacky those librarians are. It all smacks of desperation.

I mean, I'm a lawyer. If you drop a dime on the sidewalk, do I come up to you and say, "Hey, Mack. Here's your dime. You see that? You see that HONESTY? Yeah, I'm an honest lawyer! Seriously!"

Of course not. I pocket it.
posted by dreamsign at 2:41 AM on July 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


I get the impression that this, er, entire section of the magazine assumes that I'm somehow both interested in hipness and not interested in clarifying the concept.

Fixed that for you.
posted by eritain at 2:33 PM on July 9, 2007


I get the impression that this, er, entire section of the magazine assumes that I'm somehow both interested in hipness and not interested in cool things librarians do that aren't very hip at all and don't take place in Brooklyn.

Fixed that for me.

[also ZOMG self-link!!]
posted by jessamyn at 3:40 PM on July 9, 2007


« Older Ahh that symbol of the Russian endurance and the i...  |  Harlem's commercial and cultur... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments