10.11.2013

Librarians behaving badly

From Librarian Shaming.
Even before I read the Annoyed Librarian's remarks about the Librarian Shaming tumblr, I was starting to have second thoughts about the wisdom of the premise. Really. When it first appeared on my radar and my tumblr dashboard, I laughed at the snarky comments and foibles of the librarians. After all, professionals of all stripes need a place to vent or confess.

Then the tone of the posts changed, seemingly overnight. I started to see more posts from librarians who claim not to read much (only one to three books a year), librarians who weren't doing their jobs, librarians who didn't know how to do their jobs, etc. It wasn't fun reading them any more. They made me squirm.

I'm sure there are other places where professionals shame themselves (or are shamed by others). I suspect that part of my reaction is because librarians fight so hard to be perceived as professionals. We get mightily annoyed by people who question the need for a Master's degree to do the job. (Seriously, bring this up around any professional librarian if you feel the need to have your head torn off. With a complete bibliography of sources.) On top of that, most of us are also fighting to let people know how useful, vital libraries are to a healthy community. It lead to me developing a feeling that I'm an ambassador and advocate for libraries even when I'm not at work. Things like the posts I've seen on Librarian Shaming don't help that.

But then, don't even professionals need a place to gripe and share? I remember when I was getting my MLS I stumbled on a LiveJournal community called The Society for Librarians Who Say Motherfucker. I'm delighted to see that it still exists, though I haven't felt the need to read it in years. Where Librarian Shaming is for librarians and paraprofessionals who feel the need to get an embarrassing secret off their chests, Society for Librarians Who Say Motherfucker is for librarians who need to talking about all the irritating, frustrating, and insane things that happen during the workday (while preserving the privacy of the crazy patrons they have to deal with).

Between the two sites, I'm still left with a dilemma. Is it more important to feel free to air dirty laundry online for the sake of one's sanity than it is to preserve a beneficial, non-stereotyped image of a librarian?

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