Revamping the Image of the Librarian: Men of the Stacks 2012 Calendar

| October 20, 2011

Grey bun, glasses, dowdy sweater, index finger poised to shush.  The stereotypical image of the librarian remains strong, despite the contradictory reality that it actually tends to be tech-savvy hipsters that are sitting behind at the public service desk and in library science courses with me.  The fearful and derogatory the image of the librarian was even a theme in one of my lectures earlier this semester, which was accompanied by the most interesting reading that class has yet offered: Radford, M. L. and Radford, G. P. (1997). Power, knowledge, and fear: Feminism, Foucault, and the stereotype of the female librarian. The Library Quarterly, 67(3), 250-266. Since it’s a bit too dense to summarize as an aside, check back for a further post on this article itself.

Librarians are striking back at this image not by getting defensive and whiny, but rather in the far more charismatic fashion of strutting their stuff confidently.  The Men of the Stacks 2012 Calendar is just one example of the self-assured librarian of the 21st century.  Here’s a bit of what the folks behind the calendar have to say:

One of our models, Von, captured the spirit of this calendar beautifully:

“We can’t just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that’s why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish.  We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It’s not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs.” — Filipino Librarian

Now, he adds, calendars should be added to the list.  So, who are we?  What do we want to tell you about who we are?  What are these alternative images?  Easy.  We are, of course, professionals.  We are educators, programmers, project managers, entrepreneurs, program coordinators, contractors, consultants, and speakers.  We are academics.  We are authors, diversity officers, historians, administrators, deans, professors, and researchers.  We are creatives.  We are musicians, bakers, painters, and storytellers.  We are athletes, yogis, gym-rats, runners, and hikers.  We are passionate.  We are dog-lovers, radicals, conservatives, Christians, and Buddhists.  We are in our twenties.  We are in our forties.  We are in relationships.  We are perpetual bachelors.  We are privileged beings who try to use their advantages to better the lives of others.

Who are we?  We are The Men of the Stacks.

You can find the calendar’s homepage here, and from there you can find, among other things, the background of the calendar, a contact page, and a gallery of photos.

While about half of the pictures leave something to be desired in terms of creativity or the quality of the photography, it’s definitely a worthwhile project, not just because it pushes the image of librarians in a better direction, but also–and more importantly–because all proceeds are being donated to the It Gets Better Project.

So while back in 1946 George Bailey may have been devastated to hear that his darling Mary would have ended up a librarian if he’d never been born, the significant others of those of us happy to call ourselves librarians in the 21st century are, I dare say, feeling no lack of  magnetism.