An article in the WashingtonPost, “Librarians Make Some Noise Over Patriot Act” (via Talk Left) looks at some more actions librarians are taking in opposition to the USA PATRIOT Act. As I said before, librarians are the front line fighting for your (and my) freedoms, and this article gives even more reason to love your librarian. In Monterey Park, CA, they put up signs on every computer terminal, saying “anything you read is now subject to secret scrutiny by federal agents.” Other libraries are regularly destroying usage records and some have even decided not to install new technologies that would make tracking library usage easier.
One thing that bothers me about these articles is that everything I’ve seen written about librarians seems to reinforce the image of “librarian as dowdy old lady with hair bun”. The Washington Post piece says “Across the country, in a movement that belies their staid image, librarians are rising up in anger…”. What did librarians ever do to deserve this image? While I’m sure that a reasonable number of librarians are, in fact, women of advanced age and varying degrees of pleasantness, the fact that we never seem to run out of librarians indicates to me that some younger people must be coming into the field from somewhere (a hunch made more certain by the large number of young people enrolled in library sciences programs across the nation). For a more positive image of librarians, might I suggest a peek at Librarian Avengers (Warning: this is a flash site with a loud soundtrack that sounds for about 10 seconds–it can be quite startling–and features some loud sound effects–don’t look at this site in the library!). In “Why you should fall to your knees and worship a librarian”, the author notes:
Librarians can catalog anything from an onion to a dog’s ear. They could catalog you. Librarians wield unfathomable power…. Librarians are all-knowing and all-seeing. They bring order to chaos. They bring wisdom and culture to the masses. They preserve every aspect of human knowledge. Librarians rule. And they will kick the crap out of anyone who says otherwise.
Be sure to check out the other sections of the site, to get an idea of just how much your librarian does when you’re not looking (and let’s face it, you ungrateful brute–you’re never looking). Maybe it’s time to shed some of these outdated, Frank Capra-esque stereotypes and start paying attention to these Freedom Fighters. Show some respect!