Library Chic — Part 2

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kaplan University Librarian, Jennie Ver Steeg.]

In my last article, I wrote about libraries “being cool” and “going viral.”  I want to explore that concept a little more here.

The New York Times was prescient and published “A Hipper Crowd of Shushers” in 2007.  In the article, Kara Jesella wrote this about cultural stereotypes of librarians:

Aren’t they supposed to be bespectacled women with a love of classic books and a perpetual annoyance with talkative patrons — the ultimate humorless shushers?

Not any more. With so much of the job involving technology and with a focus now on finding and sharing information beyond just what is available in books, a new type of librarian is emerging — the kind that, according to the Web site Librarian Avengers, is “looking to put the ‘hep cat’ in cataloguing.”

Just last month Linda Holmes of the NPR Blog Monkey See suggests that libraries could be the next “pop-culture” rage following on the heels of cupcakes.

What’s so great about libraries all of a sudden? How can you benefit from our new status as the cool kids?

One reason is the rise of the nerd in popular culture in general: Thanks to the rise of the information society, the power is in the technology, and the “nerds” made that technology: Thanks, Bill Gates! A generation of kids is growing up revering the geek and valuing those who learn to harness social media. Librarians were early to that party, and even though there are those who fret over a loss of something—gravitas, gate keeping, face—most agree that irreverence is helping the profession capture the hearts and minds of a new generation, one that maybe is ready to admit, when it comes to “the Google,” they still need our help.

Another reason librarians may be cool, according to NPR, is the bad economy: we let you use our stuff for free (sort of)… or maybe the rise of the ebook makes us attractive as friends to the environment, or as the New York Times put it in 2007, librarians are passionate about “pop culture, activism and technology.”

Have you visited your library lately?

Bring it on!

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