“Rock Star” Librarian—Now That’s a Stereotype I Can Get Behind!

Silhouette of a rock star holding a book

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal published a piece by Ellen Gamerman with the headline “The ‘Rock Star’ Librarians Who Choose What Your Kids Read” (subscription required).

The article highlighted how some librarians use social media, including Twitter and blogs, to recommend children’s reading selections—and end up with their own bit of low-level fame along the way.

As many commenters pointed out, this practice does raise some concerns, including adults choosing reading materials for kids, but to me, one message comes through loud and clear: new librarian stereotypes are emerging—and this is GOOD!

Those of you who follow me on Twitter or read a recent interview of me in The Washington Post know that stereotypes of librarians (and nurses) remain and are not always positive. Even when employed good-naturedly, these stereotypes can be unfair or untrue. I’d like to see them go away, but until they do, I suggest we undercut negative stereotypes by cultivating positive ones.

With that in mind, I’m all for the “rock star” librarian idea.

The National Library of Medicine relies on librarians here and in the field—in public libraries, hospital libraries, academic research centers, and K-12 schools. These librarians help people discover and use the quality health information NLM provides to stay healthy, manage illness, and learn about personal or public health issues.

The librarians in the 6,500 or so libraries linked through the National Network of Libraries of Medicine have a presence in almost every county in the United States! They reach out to health professionals and the public in their regions to assess information needs and provide resources. And they do it in ways that work for those audiences—whether via community meetings, webinars, training classes, or face-to-face consultations. These librarians are our rock stars.

What better term to use to describe the 21st century librarian!

Author: Patti Brennan

Director, US National Library of Medicine

3 thoughts on ““Rock Star” Librarian—Now That’s a Stereotype I Can Get Behind!”

  1. I love this! I’m an academic librarian (health sciences) and EVERY TIME I introduce myself to a class to students I have not seen before I try to crush those old-school stereotypes by explaining that my Master’s degree did not teach me how to properly shh people (which I have been asked…) and we did not discuss the Dewy Decimal System. 😉

    Like

  2. Thanks for your great talk at Harvard Medical School yesterday. It was eye-opening and inspirational to learn about your vision for our future.

    Like

Comments are closed.