Monday, July 9, 2012

Case Study No. 0430: Meredith Myers, Kimberly Patton, Audra Caplan, Chris Davidson, and Allie Flanary

Meredith Myers is Interviewed on KPBS Radio About "Hip" Librarians
While attending the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference in San Diego, CA, Stand-Up Librarian Meredith Myers sat down with KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis to discuss the image of librarians and how libraries can stay relevant to teens. Several other "hip" librarians were also featured on this radio interview. Created on January 11, 2011.
Tags: Stand-Up Librarian Meredith Myers KPBS hip librarians teens libraries librarians stereotypes
Added: 1 year ago
From: StandUpLibrarian
Views: 43

[scene opens with the camera focused on a web browers open to the KPBS homepage, as audio from the interview plays over the computer speakers]
ANNOUNCER: KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis brings us this audio postcard, about the growing number of young hip librarians who are busting stereotypes.
[music plays, as clips from interviews with various librarians are played]
KIMBERLY: My name is Kimberly Patton, I am the teen librarian at the Kansas City Public Library.
[cut to another part of the interview]
KIMBERLY: Y'know, we're just all individuals, and librarians just like anybody else like to support their individual style.
MEREDITH: My name is Meredith Myers, and I am a librarian, but I've been a standup comedian for several years. Developed a blog last year called standuplibrarian dot com.
[cut to another part of the interview]
MEREDITH: I think we need librarians, and I think we need cool librarians. And I'm somebody that's pretty fashionable, as you can see. I've got my fabulous hat on here, and biker boots. Here are the black biker boots. Image is important, and they wanna go to people and ask for help from people that they identify with. And if you've got some woman sitting there that isn't fashionable, or that isn't welcoming and warm and funny maybe, maybe you wouldn't ask them a question. Y'know, you're gonna go to somebody that you identify with.
AUDRA: I'm Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. I've been in libraries for thirty two years, and for thirty two years we've been fighting the stereotype of a typical librarian. Y'know, the old lady with the bun and the glasses and the finger on her mouth saying "shush!" We haven't been like that for a long time, but I think because of the excitement about new technologies and new ways of being able to respond, makes it really exciting to this upcoming generation ...
CHRIS: My name's Chris Davidson, I'm from Chicago Illinois. A lot of the new librarians, a lot of the people getting their degrees now, they're pop-culture people! They love pop culture and stuff like that, so it's kind of less an issue of changing the stereotype within the profession, we're already those sorts of people.
ALLIE: My name is Allie Flanary. I'm from Portland, Oregon.
[cut to another part of the interview]
ALLIE: Where we need to come to is a total melding and blending of talents and personality types, because just as much as I can say absolutely younger students will wanna come to me because I'm gonna explain it to you while talking about zombies and mummies and tattoos and weird junk. Likewise, I work in an environment where my students might also be seventy, and have no manual dexterity to use a mouse. Our user base is very wide, and I think that that's gonna continue as we have economic disparity.
MEREDITH: I'm just one person, but I'm somebody that has a lot of ambition and heart, and I'm gonna do what I can. And dress in fabulous heels in the process ...
ANNOUNCER: An audio postcard, from KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis ...



SAN DIEGO - The American Library Association capped its national conference at the San Diego Convention Center by honoring creators of children's books. One recurring theme at the conference was how libraries stay relevant in the lives of young readers as many librarians near retirement.

Meredith Myers, a librarian and stand-up comedian, says she knows the answer: hire younger, more hip librarians.

"I think we need cool librarians," said Myers, who sports a stylish hat, bright red hair and black biker boots. "Image is important. (Younger patrons) are more likely to ask for help from people who they can identify with."

Myers is part of a growing number of young librarians who are busting stereotypes of the "typical librarian" and forcing change within their own libraries.

They said it is not uncommon today to see librarians wearing Doc Martin boots, tattoos and dreadlocks. And some new librarians say they are more interested in pop culture than historical text.

Library advocates said it is all part of the 21st Century library – a place with cool technology and cool people.

"For 32 years we've been fighting this stereotype of the typical librarian who is old, has a bun and glasses. We haven't been that way for a long time," said Audra Caplan, president of the Public Library Association. "I think the excitement of new technologies and new ways to respond make it really exciting to this upcoming generation."

Organizers with the American Library Association acknowledge libraries need to do more to attract younger patrons – especially teenagers.

In response, many libraries across the country began to hire younger librarians to create teen reading programs, teen events and supervise teen centers within libraries.

Aspiring librarians, however, said they've seen a leveling-off of employment possibilities in the past year as libraries across the country are reducing hours and staff.

And younger librarians are now competing with unemployed librarians with years of experience for a coveted position.

Young librarians say when they do secure a job, the next challenge is working with veteran librarians who might be resistant to change – especially when it comes to staying on top of trends in information technology.

"We need to come to a total melding and blending of talents and personality types," said Allie Flanary, librarian of Portland Community College in Portland, Ore.

Flanary said more students approach her than the older librarians because she likes to talk "zombies, mummies, tattoos and weird junk."

Her struggle is connecting with older patrons who "may not have the manual dexterity to use a mouse." She says her personality and physical appearance may intimidate another population of library users.

The Young Adult Library Services Association offers online tips and training to help young librarians deal with conflicts over change at work.

Myers, the stand-up comedian and librarian, said despite the challenges, librarianship is the ultimate job.

"I'm someone who has a lot of ambitious and heart, and I'm going to do what I can and dress in fabulous heels in the process," said Myers.

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