‘The Gaybrarian, the Gargoyle and their sexy counterparts’: - On Librarian Stereotypes

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Since the concept ‘stereotype’ was first introduced in its modern meaning in the 1920s, these ‘pictures in our heads’ have been studied intensively by both media scientists and social psychologists. In my research project, I analyze how Librarians are represented in a stereotypical manner in news media and I use social psychology theory as my interpretive framework. I have carried out qualitative textual analysis based on 950 full text newspaper articles retrieved through a simple search for ‘librarian’.

My analysis reveal that the stereotypes on librarians can be arranged in a four-cell table where one axis is gender and the other is degree of sexiness. Simplified this means that there are four dominating librarian stereotypes: The sexy and the non-sexy female librarian and similarly the sexy and the non-sexy male librarian. This corresponds well with other studies of stereotypes in general showing, that stereotypes often exists opposing pairs and that multiple and opposing stereotypes relating to the same group may exist at the same time and place.

The analysis reveals that the female librarian is described as a mid-aged spinster. A strong and will-full woman almost aggressive. Her sexy colleague is young, intellectual and beautiful, and stereotyped as quite active sexually. The male counterparts are weak and feminine men. If stereotyped as sexy, then for sure homosexual ‘Gaybrarians’. They are described as socially awkward, antisocial, introverted and the unsexy version is certainly hopeless in the love department.

The purpose of my project is to engage both citizens and librarians in dealing with the these stereotypes. The reason for this is that research has shown that stereotypes held on professions actually forms expectations of a certain behavior. The phenomenon is called "stereotype threat" or "looping effect" and has, since it was introduced in the mid-1990s, been studied intensively. Fortunately, research has shown that stereotypes are not static: Individuals are willing to change their stereotypes when exposed to incongruent information. By exposing citizens to images of the librarian stereotypes in the library I want to make them aware and hopefully create a much more nuanced understanding of what and who the modern librarian is.
Publikationsdatojun. 2018
StatusUdgivet - jun. 2018
BegivenhedLIBER Annual Conference 2018 - LILLIAD, Lille, Frankrig
Varighed: 4. jul. 20186. jul. 2018


KonferenceLIBER Annual Conference 2018


Wien, C. (2018). ‘The Gaybrarian, the Gargoyle and their sexy counterparts’: - On Librarian Stereotypes. Poster session præsenteret på LIBER Annual Conference 2018, Lille, Frankrig.