An Exploration of a Changing Profession

Why a website on "Image and the Librarian?"

Many people like librarians and have a great image of what a librarian is like. On the other hand, for decades those in the library profession have been perplexed by negative stereotypes and impressions of librarians. Indeed, there are people within and outside the profession who believe that negative images have affected the professional status and self-image of librarians. Where these stereotypes come from, how they affect library professionals, and whether our new role as "information specialists" relying on computer technology will change how we're regarded will be explored here.

How We Did It!

"Image and the Librarian" was researched and designed by myself, Stacie Marinelli, and my classmate Tim Baker, when we were students in Information Technology, taught by Dr. Douglas Oard, at the University of Maryland/College Park's College of Information Studies. Both of us are now working in the library world, and I will attempt to keep up the site as time permits.

To develop content for the page, we researched several databases, including ERIC, Library Lit and online catalogs of collections at the University of Maryland and George Washington University, as well as library journals (including the Image column in American Library), and discovered websites to link up to using Yahoo and Metacrawler search engines (searching for such access points as "Librarians and Image" and "Librarians and Status"). In the process we discovered a large and long-lived literature that was both anecdotal and experimental. Citations for articles and books mentioned in these web pages can be found on our Resources page. We welcome all Web Explorers, librarian and non-librarian alike!

Explore the Image Website

We envision our website as an overview that will introduce viewers to some of the major concerns about librarians and image, and will provide resources with which they can explore further. There is a considerable literature in the field on professional image and status, and a large literature on "stereotypes" in the field of sociology and social psychology. Through research into literature and websites, three central "image issues" are explored. Both serious and humorous approaches will be included. Other related topics: websites and articles addressing media images of librarians; a summary of the concerns librarians have had for a long time about professional status (including inadequate salaries; lack of respect from public; reputation as stuffy and unpleasant (including "the bun image"); possible sociological and psychological issues surrounding the "low status/poor image problem," including the concept of internalized oppression; the impact of technology on job opportunities, the nature of the work, and how we are seen by the public.

News Flash! Website to Check Out!

Are librarians powerful and cool? Erica Olson thinks so. Check out why you should fall to your knees and worship a librarian and see why! Maybe the ALA will model an annual poster on this website...

Popular Culture Committee and Conference, April 8-11, 1998

The Popular Culture Association has a section on "Libraries and Popular Culture" which participated in the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association conference in 1998 in Orlando, Florida. Many of the conference panels mirrored topics discussed on this website. PCA's "Libraries and Popular Culture" is a formal committee open to anyone doing research in this area. News of future conferences can be found on the newsgroup "bit.listserv.libref-1" or by going to the Popular Culture Association website at For more information on the committee, contact:
Allen Ellis, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University
Highland Heights, KY 41099-6101

Maintenance of Site

Librarians and information school students have been emailing the Image and the Librarian website since it first appeared. Given such enthusiastic support (!), the site will be kept up indefintely, though its URL (web address) may change as it should be moving to a new web server soon. As much as possible, links will be checked and kept up to date. Much of the material on the pages is retrospective and therefore static; the only changes currently envisioned would be any obvious change in technology or image (though major shifts are not expected in such a short timeframe), and addition of new or deletion of expired websites.
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This page was last updated on December 2, 2000.

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