Friday, March 9, 2012

Case Study No. 0286: "Roller Derby + Librarians = Derbrarians!"

Roller Derby + Librarians = Derbrarians!
2:43 2009/09/ derbrarians.html

Stereotype-smashin' derby librarian, "MegaBeth," a reference librarian in Akron Ohio, is 53 year old player for the Rubber City Roller Girls.

This article is bringing up an age-old battle for us librarians... Having to prove that librarians are actually cool. Well guess what folks. We are!

MegaBeth isn't the only librarian rolling around and taking names, let's see more of these brawlin' biblio babes!

Judy Gloom plays for the LA Derby Dolls (
Take a look at her blog, Hollywood Librarian. (

Kiwi Derby Librarian, Bonne Fire from the Pirate City Rollers of Aukland, New Zealand! (rollerderby librarian.

Dame Deviant, a Young Adult librarian, plays for the Bend, Oregon Lava City Roller Dolls and likes to do library-supportive booty blocking! (
See her wonderful video on the reference interview here at her blog, Derby Librarian.
Tags: roller derby librarians
Added: 1 year ago
From: ComixLibrary
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The Rubber City Rollergirls from Akron, Ohio

Santa Cruz Derby Girls 2009


LADD's Judy Gloom

Houston Roller Derby DeMentia jams against Catazon

Ignite Bend 3 - Roller Derby Librarian, April Witteveen



She's petite, she's middle-aged, she's bookish, and if she gets a chance, she'll knock you on your keister.

By day, she's Beth Hollis, a 53-year-old reference librarian in Akron, Ohio. By night, she's MegaBeth, an ageless dynamo on the roller derby rink.

"All my life, when I tell people I'm a librarian, they say, 'You don't look like a librarian,' " Hollis said. "And now that I'm a roller derby girl, they say, 'You don't look like a roller derby girl, either.' So I don't know where I fit in."

Hollis has been fitting in at the Akron-Summit County Library for 27 years.

"She's my hero," said Diane Barton, 48, who has worked with Hollis at the library for 18 years. "I just think it's so cool she's doing something so different and so active and so aggressive. You know how we are. We're librarians, so we tend to have that meek and mild stereotype."

Before discovering roller derby, Hollis had been casting about for a hobby.

"I tried knitting and literally got kicked out of the knitting class for just not being able to get the hang of it," she chortled. "I guess it was just too soon for me to try knitting. I needed something that maybe was a little bit more physical for a hobby."

Boy howdy.

She visited a Rubber City Rollergirls practice last winter after telling her husband, Warren, a retired high school math teacher, that she was going to an audition.

"At that point, I just said, 'I don't care that I have an AARP card in my wallet; I'm going to go for this,' " she said.

Roller derby is a real sport, having ditched the campy, WWE-like spectacle seen on TV in the early 1970s. The Rubber City squad practices six hours a week and competes against teams in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Kentucky.

A roller derby match, called a bout, consists of two 30-minute halves. Each team has four blockers and one player called a jammer, whose job is to get past the other team's blockers on a 235-foot oval flat track and lap them to score points. Both teams are on offense and defense simultaneously, and the action is fast and rough.

"I think she's awesome," coach Brian "Coachise" Phillips said. "She is 53, so she is our oldest girl on the team, but she works every bit as hard as every other girl on the team, and she is in as good a shape if not better than every other girl on the team."

And she's an inspiration to the other players.

"It makes me actually excited to think that I could play ... for another 30 years, and that's awesome for me, because this is like my favorite thing to do," said Barb "Barbonic Plague" Brown, who at 21 is the youngest player on the team.

Hollis has earned the respect of her team captain, too.

"She's so tiny -- she's probably like 5 feet 4 and maybe 110 pounds or so -- but when she's out there, she's MegaBeth," said Tracy "Eighty-SixHer" Soulsby, 40. "I wouldn't say she's a very hard hitter, but she's a good blocker. Her strength is getting in people's way and then keeping them behind her, not letting them get around her."

The MegaBeth legend grew during a June bout with the Glass City Roller Girls, a team from Toledo, Ohio. Hollis found herself contending with a 6-foot-1, 220-pound foe who goes by the name Pamazon.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her just take out this one girl, and I remember, the crowd just went wild. It was fantastic!" Brown recalled.

"I think that might be the highlight of her season," Phillips said.

For her part, Pamazon -- aka Pamela Keppler -- said she's never been knocked down in a bout.

"To be completely honest, I don't remember MegaBeth that well from the bout," she said. "I do remember talking with her at the after-party. We were all pretty surprised by her age, and I remember her saying that I knocked the snot out of her."

The team draws capacity crowds of 500 to 600 at its bouts, where admission costs $8.50 to $12.50 and concessions are sold.

"It really makes it exciting when you've got all those people cheering," Hollis said. "And as we progress through the season, it's obvious that we've gotten better ... and the fan support has just gotten louder."

But the glory comes at a cost. Two Rubber City Rollergirls have suffered broken legs -- in practice! -- and one is about to return after breaking her shoulder and nose in a bout.

"It's inevitable that you're going to get scrapes; you get rink rash and bruises," said Hollis, who wears number 796.21 -- the Dewey Decimal library index number for skating.

"I took a pretty tough fall to my hip that had me a little concerned. As I said to my teammates, at my age when you break a hip, it's the beginning of the end."

Asked whether she has hurt anyone else, the mother of two college graduates replied furtively: "I hope so."

Librarian Hollis isn't the only player smashing stereotypes. Among her teammates are teachers, a Starbucks manager, an accountant, a nurse practitioner, a barmaid and a couple of waitresses, most of whom are on the small side, Soulsby said.

"It's not just rough-and-tough, big, burly gals out on parole," Hollis said.

Perhaps just to keep it real, the team does include one former repo driver (Valcano) and a heavy-equipment operator (BulldozeHer Bo).

Barton, her fellow librarian, says there's something different about Hollis since she laced up her skates.

"It may just be my imagination, but she seems more confident in a way," Barton said. "It has to empower you somehow."

Hollis says it's good for people to test themselves with change.

"I encourage people to pursue things -- something like this -- that they think might be fun, and not to let stereotypes get in the way of whether or not they think they're going to fit in," she said. "Because you never know."



SCDG FM Profile Preview of Fresh Meat Daisy

My Other Set of Wheels is a Book Cart

Why derby?
They wouldn't let me knock people down in salsa dancing.

Theme song:
I Was Born Making Noise- Suzi Quatro

Support your local libraries, folks, and the women who help them rock!!



Name: The Librarian
Number: 739.27 T213E
Hometown: 5th generation Houstonian. TX born and bred!
Position: PBJ
Hobby: Derby, dancing, making clothes
Favorite Drink: Coffee, Diet Coke, Ginger Ale, repeat
Tagline: Don't judge a book by its cover.
Rival: Censorship and biblioclasm

1. Your rollergirl name, what was the inspiration?
The Librarian: Back in March 2006, I took the Roller Derby leap of faith and attended my first recruitment meeting at Kaldi's Cafe on Main treet in OTR... it took all the guts I could muster to just walk through the door. I scanned the crowded room looking for an empty seat to park my heiney and wound up sitting next to your quintessential roller derby pin-up girl: Jet black hair, baby doll bangs, two full sleves and chest tats to boot! She took one look at me in my glasses, khaki pants and sweater set...then she literally took out her two front teeth and said, "Whaddya doin' playin' rollerderby? You look like a lil' librarian."



The Hollywood Librarian

The (mis)adventures of Judy Gloom: librarian, skater for the L.A. Derby Dolls, cyclist, experimental chef, Beer Committee Beerbrarian, retired professional gambler, Girl Friday for hire, occasional mock jury member, obsessive documenter of daily life...possibly in the interest of proving that she actually exists.



Catazonia is the home of Catazon, the cataloging Amazon. Catazon enjoys her family, being a librarian by degree only, and reliving the good old days of women's pro football and flat-track roller derby. Catazonia will serve as practice for Catazon's web development skills as well as a forum to share the adventures that develop daily in Catazon's life.



Dewey Derby

Library advocacy gets a bump from roller derby competitor April Witteveen, teen services librarian at the Bend Public Library, OR, which is part of the Deschutes Public Library. Her partly obscured number, 796.21, represents skate sports in the Dewey Decimal System. Witteveen skates under the derby name "Dame Deviant."

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