Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Librarian Job Bias

Will Manley sometimes makes my blood boil, but his column in the current issue of American Libraries, is right on! You can use the link to access the table of contents and if you have an ALA membership, read the entire issue online. I will excerpt small bits of Will's excellent essay, which appears at p. 152, of the June/July, 2007 issue.

The title, "Move Over, Marian: The fight against stereotypes goes way back," is a little misleading. A lot of his focus is not so much on stereotypes as such, but the "job bias" against librrians. While ignorant and sweeping stereotypes hurt our feelings, Manley has a more pertinent point: the ignorant and sweeping stereotypes result in our employers, our friends and even perhaps, our families selling the profession short.

Manley explains that he is currently working as a city manager, but that his lifelong career as a librarian was the biggest barrier to getting his current job.

"...The biggest obstacle I had to overcome in getting the city manager job was the overwhleming perception that a librarian could not possibly handle the job."

"You can't be a librarian. That's preposterous! How can you run a big city with a clerical background?" [exclaimed his friend]

Immediately, I said, "See, you share the bias against librarians! We are not a bunch of retiring file clerks who specialize in busy work. WE are highly educated professionals who operate and manage large, high-tech institutions that serve a wide diversity of people in a wide diversity of very important ways. We do this with minimal resources and minimal respect. We are creative, resourceful and very productive."
Right on, Will!

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