Monday, February 7, 2011

About this blog

INTRODUCTION

What image pops into your head when you hear the word "librarian"?

Let me guess - the stereotypical bespectacled old lady with a bun in her hair and a finger to her lips ready to shush anyone and everyone ... Am I close?

Well, librarians are a bit of a sensitive lot (whoops, there I go with the stereotyping myself!); the profession as a whole has put a great deal of time and effort into breaking those old traditional "stigmas", by attempting to highlight the breadth and variety of individuals - young and old, male and female, etc. - that make up this unique and extremely vital vocation.

Still, there is a definite archetype that has been established within our culture when it comes to what a librarian is "supposed" to look/act like, and that figure has permeated the representation of this field for more years than I care to count ... Whether it be film and television, or more modern media outlets like video games and the internet, you can find the librarians' profession portrayed (even ridiculed) with the same basic broad strokes.

So, not to put too fine a point on it, but that's where this blog comes in ...

THE PLAN

Ever since I myself (full disclosure!) began pursuing a Master's Degree in order to join the ranks of the full-fledged librarian, I've become fascinated with the portrayal of this profession in popular culture, particularly those depictions which have made their way onto Youtube ... As such, I decided long ago to begin cataloging as many instances of these representations as I could find on the popular video-sharing site.

A daunting task, to be sure, but I gladly accept the challenge ... And, truth be told, there are a LOT more portrayals of librarianship on there than I ever could have imagined!

Of course, there's plenty of the familiar (i.e. unflattering) stereotypes on there, but dig deep enough and you can actually find some honest-to-goodness attempts to portray the profession in a positive light (some posted by librarians themselves, some not); you just need to take the time to look ... or follow this blog, either one ;)

These portrayals can consist of fictitious characters (television, cartoons, movies, etc.) or real-life flesh-and-blood librarians (news stories, promotional videos, vlogs, etc.) ... Whatever the genre, whatever the format, I'm just looking for YouTube videos that someone out there felt was worth the time and effort to post for a world-wide audience as a representation of the profession (either in a positive or negative light)!

THE SUBJECT AREAS

This has been an ongoing "project" of mine for the last couple of years, so I've built up a pretty sizable database of YouTube clips. In order to make them easier to navigate, I've broken things down into the following categories ...
Television: As the name implies, these are fictional librarians that have appeared on TV shows.

Cartoons: Again, this is pretty straightforward stuff ... Librarians in this category are in animated form (either traditional pen and paper, CG, claymation, etc.).

Literature: Okay, this one might be a little confusing - I was going to call it "Books," but many people seemingly believe that books and librarians are indistinguishable from one another, so I went with the broader term "Literature" ... Anyway, this category has to do with fictional librarians found in books, librarians who have written books, poetry featuring librarians, etc.

Comics: I felt that comic books (or "graphic novels" if you prefer) deserved their very own category separate from "Literature", so that's what you'll find here ... traditional comic books, comic strips, web comix, and so forth.

Movies: There have been entire volumes dedicated to the portrayal of librarians on the big screen (amazon.com), so this category should contain plenty of entries to keep you entertained ... or horrified ;)

Short Films: Rather than dealing with a theatrical release (like the previous category), these entries are shorter in length and not necessarily crafted with a Hollywood budget ... Everything from independent shorts to homemade affairs shot on a handheld camera, these portrayals of librarians are more of an "intimate" affair than you'll find in your local moviehouse.

Theater: Entries in this category deal with librarians as they are portrayed in plays, Broadway shows, one-man performance pieces, etc.

Video Games: The field of "interactive entertainment" has a surprisingly diverse number of librarian characters just waiting to be explored ... Everything from ColecoVision and arcades to the latest home consoles will be cataloged here.

Hobbies: Do you have a Nancy Pearl action figure (mcphee.com) sitting on your desk right now? If so, then you'll probably enjoy this category, which highlights librarians featured in such activities as toy collecting, trading cards, and alternate reality games (ARGs) ...

Music: These are either songs about librarians, songs written by librarians, music videos featuring librarians, and so on.

Radio: This category will feature librarians (both real and imagined) that have appeared on radio stations throughout the country.

Commercials: These can be either professionally-made TV ads, or promotional videos created specifically to be posted on YouTube.

Humor: Looking for a good librarian joke ("Two media specialists walk into a bar ... ")? Or how about a comedy sketch featuring an argumentative patron? Then this is the category that you'll want to be checking out.

Other: A necessary "grab bag" for those entries that do not fit any one specific category ... 
Each blog entry will feature a label that corresponds to whatever category I feel best represents the YouTube clip in question, in order to make browsing the archives an easier and (hopefully) more pleasurable experience ...

DEFINITIONS

I'd also like to take this opportunity to make it clear what exactly - in my mind - constitutes a YouTube clip "worthy" to be added to this list (bear with me a sec):

Now, I've run into a lot of YouTube videos which throw around the terms "library" and "librarians" rather indiscriminately ... For example, does this (youtube.com) look like a librarian to you - as the description would suggest - or rather a lady working at a bookstore?

Therefore, in order to avoid such misleading characterizations, my (rather simplified) definition for a "librarian" is someone who works in a lending library ... In other words, while the character in question might not - strictly speaking - be in possession of an MLIS, it's still close enough for me ;)

That means that para-professionals, library assistants, student workers, and the like are all fair game ... Also, I'm going to disqualify all YouTube videos that do not portray libraries which actually loan out materials to the public, since personal libraries/private collections do not usually hire dedicated staff to keep their volumes in order; I might stretch that definition now and then for "special" occasions, but for the most part I will be sticking with lending libraries (public, academic, etc.) only. Sorry, "Beauty and the Beast" fans (youtube.com)!

ENJOY!

Well, I guess that about does it for my little introduction ... I must admit, though it can be a bit time-consuming, I've actually had fun compiling this list, so I hope you'll have just as much fun looking over it and trying to find your favorite librarian character!


I plan on updating three times a day every weekday, so if you want to make sure you don't miss the latest entry, try "liking" us on FaceBook or following our Twitter and Tumblr feeds ...

I still need to tie up some loose ends before this blog can officially go "live," but I hope to begin posting entries sometime in March ... Stay tuned!

Oh, and one more thing for the lawyers ... If you happen to be browsing the archives of this blog one day and feel that one of the videos found therein has violated your copyright, then you need to contact Google (youtube.com) directly or the individual YouTube users themselves; I am in no way responsible for the posting of these videos, I just catalog 'em.

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