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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sad Graffiti

My wonderful librarian friend recently took a picture of this graffiti she saw in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and gave me permission to post it. If mild profanity doesn't bother you, take a look:


(Photo by Chrissy Triskett)
At first, I laughed at the image. I mean, how ridiculous is that? Why would someone take the time and spend money on spray paint to vandalize about librarians, of all things? (I sort of hoped that it was a quote from some obscure hipster/emo song, but my quick Google search yielded no results in that vein.)

Then I began to feel concerned. Is this how people TRULY view librarians? Are we getting a bad rap? Without any context or background information, I don't know what sparked this gloomy graffiti. I don't even know WHEN this occurred - it could be old news. But it got me thinking about peoples' perceptions of librarians. At this point, we can only assume that it was written by an actual hipster who had a negative interaction with a librarian at some point and was SO upset that he or she had to share it with all of Brooklyn. This is worrisome to me.

Listen, we all have our moments. Branches are short-staffed. Patron demand is rising. Librarians are often stressed, strained, and overworked. But quite frankly, in the face of even MORE impending budget cuts, libraries need all the good publicity they can get. And the truth is, the majority of us love our jobs. We are there because we WANT to help people. I know that there are always a few bad apples, but most of the librarians I know are patient, caring, and enthusiastic. I sincerely hope that this vandal has a good interaction with a librarian someday and changes his or her mind. (Or at least runs out of spray paint.)

To end on a positive note, a friend of mine modified the picture to make it more palatable to librarians. I'm optimistic that this is representative of MOST peoples' library experiences: 


That's better. (Modification by Michael Bialaszweski)


18 comments:

  1. I am a middle school librarian, and I have heard less than flattering things about some of the elementary librarians. Makes me sad and I do what I can to change that opinion by the time they head to high school.

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  2. How about "My Liberian IS Awesome" ?

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  3. Jana makes a good point. We can't control the bitch librarian people inevitably encounter, but we can be awesome librarians so they have a whole new basis of comparison.

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  4. I once met a librarian who felt compelled to warn people if a YA novel had "drug use, sex, or homosexuals".

    That librarian was a bitch.

    Generally though, I've found librarians to be quite helpful, if not slightly eccentric people.

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  5. I have incredibly fond memories of all the librarians I have come into contact with. I remember one librarian I always sought out as a kid. She could pick ANY book off the shelf and tell me all about it. I was always fascinated by her. And you know what? She always picked the right book--just for me. How did she do that?! I can still see her face...and hear her voice. That is how much of an impression she made on me more than forty years ago. I couldn't have made it through high school, college and graduate school without the librarians who helped me with all aspects of research, literature reviews, etc. Librarians were also there as I raised my own children to be avid readers and diligent students. And, by the way, I am NOT a librarian. I just happen to think they are terrific.

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  6. His (or her) librarian was a bitch because the graffiti artist was vandalizing library property as a teenager. Y'think?

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  7. Yeah, probably lots of the kids who I've kicked out and called parents on think that.

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  8. Maybe he (she) fell in love with a librarian and she broke his (her) heart. :(

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  9. Abby, that's a romantic take on it. Let's go with that!

    I'm glad some of you have had good library experiences!

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  10. Overwork and lack of community support will not lighten anyone's mood, not to mention teenagers' bad behavior in the stacks. But I have never met a bad-tempered librarian. Some fussy ones, however! :)

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  11. Ha! I like Abby's suggestion too!

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  12. I feel like while this is a definite problem for libraries, it's also kind of a general customer service profession problem. People tend to expect more, and be more judgmental of, the workers they receive service from, without taking the time to consider their own attitude.

    I'm an MLIS student and we have discussed in several of my classes the negative or just plain silly ways in which librarians are portrayed in popular media.

    A week before I was to start my program, I was woken up on a Monday morning by knocking on my apartment door. Apparently there was a letter in my mailbox downstairs informing me that the cable guys needed to run a cable up through my wall (why my superintendent expected me to have checked my mail between Saturday morning and Monday at 9:00AM when there is no postal service on the weekends I still don't understand, but I digress).
    The cable guy, average, in his forties, attempted to make small talk to me as I stood there in hastily-thrown-on jeans, tank top, and hoodie, my hair in a low ponytail. He asked if I was a student.
    "I'm just about to start my Masters in Library aind Information Science."
    "Laboratory Science?"
    "No, Library Science. Like, to be a librarian."
    "Oh." Pause. "You look like a librarian."
    I didn't even know what to say to that.
    He added, "I think it's the glasses."
    I just stared at him blankly and answered dryly, "Yep, that's the stereotype."

    On a more uplifting and lighthearted note, I don't know if you're familiar with the show Community, but you need to check out this clip. The show is about a bunch of students in community college. In this clip, Troy and Abed have fallen in love with the college librarian.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NefbTBmnKfI

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  13. at least they spelled it correctly...

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  14. I think that there are librarians that we have all run into that are deserving of this graffiti. (Not you, of course, Rita) Just like there are police officers that are jerks, teachers that shouldn't be teaching, terrible greeters at Wal-Mart....

    My point is that there are bad apples out there. I don't personally let it taint my opinion of all the wonderful librarians, teachers, police officers, crossing guards, milkmen, and Wal-Mart greeters.

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  15. I write a blog about library customer service and well...basically...about being a little kinder. What is one of the top searches people do that lands them on my blog? "mean librarian" Seriously. I too thought...it must be a character in a game or a book or something...but I don't think so. I think it really is just about grumpy, mean librarians.

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  16. As a book lover I can't say that my experience with a bitch librarian changed my views on reading or librarians. My K-8th grade librarian was not a very nice lady, even to us book lovers. Thankfully the kindly ladies in our town public library were absolute dolls. I have fond memories of my dad taking me there as a kid. I can even smell the place. Now I'm a photo researcher for a nonfiction children's book publisher and am raising two readers myself. Just wanted to say I'm enjoying your blog!

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    1. That's great to hear! Thank you so much!

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  17. As a book lover I can't say that my experience with a bitch librarian changed my views on reading or librarians. My K-8th grade librarian was not a very nice lady, even to us book lovers. Thankfully the kindly ladies in our town public library were absolute dolls. I have fond memories of my dad taking me there as a kid. I can even smell the place. Now I'm a photo researcher for a nonfiction children's book publisher and am raising two readers myself. Just wanted to say I'm enjoying your blog!

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