Wednesday, 5 August 2009

It's time to make some noise in the library...

In preparation of our first Spoken Skins event (news coming soon) we want to think about perceptions of the library and the librarian in popular culture.

Who we are and what we do differs greatly from popular perceptions. The world of libraries and information science are clouded in cultural stigmas and stereotpyes. Are librarian's really all obsessive compulsive asexual middle aged women? Do we really just stamp books all day? This stereotype is largely out of date and factually false, but still incredibly vivid and often quite fun to play with. Are libraries really just shelves of books, are they silent,are they still? We know these as myths and as library professionals we often spend our time radically transforming these perceptions of the physical library space.

Over the next few weeks in the lead up to our first Spoken Skins event we will be exploring libraries and librarians that are actively updating and transforming these popular misconceptions.

Our first Spoken Skins event will specifically focus on the representation of libraries and librarians in popular culture. This event features a screening of the documentary The Hollywood Librarian, discussion panel, and screening of the feature film Party Girl in the Stuart Hall Library. The Spoken Skins blog seeks to document the new series of activities and events taking place in the Stuart Hall Library while creating dialogues with library professionals, library users, and library lovers everywhere.

Is this why you became a librarian?

Which images of the library/librarian in popular culture stand out for you?


  1. It’s really odd that several of my close friends work in Libraries or are studying to be librarians / archivists yet I really do know nothing about what it is that they do. When were out for drinks we do tend to joke about them just telling people to be quiet or stamping out books. Now that I actually sit down to think about what it is that they could be doing, I really have little idea. I use my local library and generally it is a very quiet sombre place, which might be going on in there that I just don’t realise. My workplace has a library and I visited it once but that didn’t really enlighten me as to what they could do or were doing. They provide me with published information or documents when asked but is that any different to pointing me to the right isle? How has that work changed with the arrival of the internet.

    I am genuinely looking forward to find out about the events coming up and hope they can shed some light onto my ignorance and indeed make it disappear. I think it will be great to socialise with some of my friends in their natural habitat and really find out what they do.

  2. My favourite portrayal of a librarian in popular culture would have to be Bette Davies as Alicia Hull in Storm Center (1956).

    Alicia is a librarian that refuses to remove a communist book from the shelves of her small town public library and is strongly anti-censorship. It's a brilliant film, they should show it at library school!