Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is why we can’t have nice things

Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is why we can’t have nice things | The Magpie Librarian: A Librarian's Guide to Modern Life and Etiquette
Photo by Kyle Cassidy. Comments by the users of our fine internet.

It’s taken me a few days to figure out how I feel about the comments made about the Slate article “This is a what a Librarian Looks Like“. I am finally starting to sort it all out. Overall, I’m happy with the results. Sure, I’m thinking about how librarians can better support each other, because, in addition to many kind comments, the participants of this piece were subjected to the vitriol of the Twitterbrarians and others. It’s made me reevaluate how I react to people’s projects of which I am not involved. I need to support other librarians much more enthusiastically (or just not insist on tearing them apart), because I now know what it’s like to feel the scorn of people I’ve never even met.

I will say that I am immensely proud of the article itself for a number of reasons:

  • I met the piece’s photographer, Kyle Cassidy, who in a short while has become one of my favorite non-library worker library advocates. It’s all well and good for us to stand around and tell each other how great we are, but if we don’t push past the atmosphere of our library world bubble, we’re doomed. We need the Kyle Cassidys of the world to spread the word about the important work we do.
  • “This is what a Librarian Looks Like” is featured on, which is not a library/librarian publication. Sure, I love reading American Libraries and School Library Journal and whatnot, but Slate reaches an entirely different audience. Slate’s readers are our patrons, the people we’ve yet to reach, and, hopefully, future library supporters. We get too wrapped up in our own jargon and echo chamber sometimes. This is not healthy.
  • The article, at the time I am writing this, has been shared over 32,000 times on Facebook alone. Kyle talked to someone at Slate who said this is far more hits than any photo-essay he can recall. That’s a lot of people talking about librarians.

    Librarians are more popular than royal haircuts!
    Librarians are more popular than celebrity haircuts!
  • I had the pleasure of meeting so many fantastic librarians at the photoshoot. While I was there, recording their mini-interviews, I swear. I had chills. It was Monday night, when many people had already left the conference. I was standing in the dark convention hall, holding a digital recorder, and asking librarians why libraries matter to them and why they should matter to everyone. I thought, “This is why I come to these conferences.” I felt so inspired by everyone’s experiences and convictions. I desperately needed everybody’s positive affirmations about librarianship. This experience is an essential part of why I’m feeling excited about librarianship right now. I feel fortunate to have been involved. I adored every librarian who was kind enough to show up.
  • On a personal note, I love the picture Kyle took of me. I do. I can say that, right? It’s not easy to photograph a bigger/fat/curvy/euphemism girl like me. It’s too easy to make me look just terrible. Kyle worked with me until I started to look decent and not awkward and miserable. I can sing songs to 50 toddlers and their parents with no sense of embarrassment or self-doubt, but stick me in front of a camera and I’m an unnatural nightmare. Where the hell do you even put your hands? Where do you look? Kyle was patient and kind. I actually like the way I look and I haven’t in a long time. My family and I have had a hell of a 2013 and it’s started to show on my face (not that my looks are of the utmost concern in bad situations. But you start to notice this stuff). I lost someone very important to me, and sometimes I’d look in the mirror to see a person whose face was red and swollen from constant crying. I just looked wrecked and defeated all the time. Also, I ate everything in sight to make myself feel better and I put on a ton of weight. Despite what seems like every person in the world calling me fat in the Slate comments (NEVER READ THE COMMENTS!), I’m not sorry. I could have done worse things. My body is what it is. I’m trying to take better care of it as well as have a healthier self-image. In any case, when I see this picture, I can’t believe how happy I look. That’s a real smile on my face, and I very much need to think that I can be that kind of person again. Thank you, Kyle.

What I’m writing about today is less about the article itself, and more about the reactions of librarians and others to what I thought was a positive piece about the importance of libraries. There’s a certain crowd of people on Twitter who dislike me very much and I had zero doubt that they wouldn’t appreciate my presence in the photo-essay. I know that no matter what I do, this particular group of librarians is going to vocally proclaim how bad it is, so I wasn’t entirely unprepared for the backlash. I thought though, perhaps foolishly, that everyone would see at least one librarian in the article that they could relate to or be inspired by. For some people, the Slate article should have been a better representation of librarianship as a whole or should have provided a more realistic cross-section of what librarians look like. Others obsessed over our clothes and hair and said that we were all trying too hard or were preoccupied with our appearances. There was the notion that librarians talk too much about librarian stereotypes. Lastly, over and over again, I heard the cry of: “I don’t see myself represented in these pictures!”

I don’t mind criticism, and I don’t think Kyle does either. But when people seemed downright angry about the article, I was disappointed and a bit baffled. Is it just that people on Twitter love to argue (myself included! Hello!) or was the article really so offensive to librarians?

So, I’d like to address the kinds of concerns and complaints I witnessed. I’d like to try to do so without sounding dismissive or uncaring:

  • Everyone who showed up to the photoshoot got their picture taken. Absolutely everyone. Some of the participants did not get featured in the Slate article, and for that I’m very sorry. I should have known that could have been an option. Not a single person who got left out of the Slate piece complained or got upset with Kyle or me, and for that I’m grateful. A mess of great librarians got left out of the article, including Dale McNeill (whom I consider a mentor), Courtney Young (ALA President and general awesome person), Coral Sheldon-Hess whom I really like and admire, and my partner/boo/favorite person, Tim Conley. Another librarian that didn’t make the final cut was Gena Peone, a Cultural Collections Manager for the Spokane Tribe. I was fascinated by her job title and the way she talked about librarianship and was surprised that she was not featured in Slate. I’m sorry these people weren’t included. I don’t know if their inclusion would have altered people’s impressions of the diversity in this piece or not. I am generally of the opinion that nothing would have pleased everyone. In any case, you can see some of these left-out portraits here.
  • I tweeted, emailed, and Facebooked the crap out of the call for this photoshoot. I contacted people who I thought would be good for the shoot, but many of them were not available, so I just opened up the call to anyone who was following my Twitter account or Librarian Wardrobe. The photoshoot took place on the Monday of the Midwinter conference. Many people had left Philadelphia by this point. Some of the people who had said they could attend had to cancel due to weather-related issues. I ended up begging participants to bring a friend with them. “Bring someone! Anyone!” Kyle was aiming for 20 portraits to be taken. I don’t even know if we had that many. I was grateful for everyone who showed up. Though this photo-essay never aimed to reflect a realistic cross-section of librarianship, you can see why the final selection turned out the way it did. If you were there, you got photographed. Nothing was calculated about the selection, despite my best efforts. I will say, though, that I am proud to be included with such a fine group of professionals.
  • Some librarians had mentioned that the Slate piece presented a false sense of diversity within the profession, saying that if this were a realistic sampling of what librarianship is like, more middle-aged, white, female librarians would have been shown. Again, if you were looking to this photo-essay for some sort of statistically-acurate representation of what the average librarian looks like, you were going to be disappointed. Nowhere in the article did it say that’s what the intention was. As I mentioned, the people featured were the people who showed up. I will say, though, that I was aiming for as much diversity (which is, admittedly, a loaded and relative word) as I could muster. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they were the token POC or person over 50 or representative of the LGBTQ community, but my biggest fear was that the photoshoot was going to be an all-white, all-female cast. No, no, no, no. Maybe that’s what some people’s libraries look like, but not mine. I work in Brooklyn and I went to grad school in Queens, which is probably the most diverse county in the world. An all-white and all-straight profession is not what I see here at all. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want that portrayed in the media. I feel as if this piece, as well as the work of Librarian Wardrobe, gives a human, relatable face to the large, abstract concept of librarianship. I want people to know that we are real people of various backgrounds. I want people interested in pursuing librarianship to know that there is no cookie-cutter mold you must fit into in order to become part of our community. I want us to look approachable and inclusive and welcoming. The Slate piece needed a variety of faces, experiences, and voices in order to evoke a personal response from the reader. I’m less concerned about the stereotype that librarians are uptight, shushing bunheads in sensible shoes and more worried that the public thinks we’re homogenous and interchangeable. I want them to see themselves and their communities reflected in our faces. I think that’s one of the few ways for non-library users to give a crap about us and the work we do. I see the diversity of the photo-essay as a positive, not a negative. I feel like our participants did as well: lali
  • The word “hipster” was being thrown about quite a bit by Twitter librarians. It was in reference to our glasses and our clothing choices. Just as “fat” is an unimaginative insult from Slate commenters, hipster is just as meaningless and uninspired. I need my glasses to see and clothes to cover my body. I’m not out to please everyone with my appearance and the rest of the participants are not here to tailor their looks to suit your preferences. In NYC, hipsters are thin, young, good looking and have enough money to shop at American Apparel, so I’m just going to say thanks for the compliment and move on.
  • I think people thought that the photo-essay was implying that this is what all librarians look like, or should look like. I don’t think that the way I look is how you should look or how all librarians should present themselves. I’m not insisting you dye your hair pink or that you should dress a certain way. This is what a librarian looks like. One. We each showed up as ourselves and represent only ourselves.
  • We, the selected subjects, do not somehow speak for all librarians. Not every type of librarian was represented in this photo-essay. If your specific branch of librarianship wasn’t featured, it in no way means that the photographed librarians or Kyle think that you’re not important or that your work isn’t vital and necessary. I had several people tell me that by not including technical services librarians or academic librarians, we were implying that the work of these kind of librarians isn’t legitimate. To be fair, both kinds of the aforementioned librarians were included, though it may not be obvious by the way their titles are displayed. But I understand where people are coming from on this. Most librarians are looking to be properly paid, appreciated, and acknowledged for the work we do. Most of us are passionate about our chosen trades and spend much of our careers jockeying for the few available jobs, a living wage, and government/budget support for our organizations. If you didn’t see yourself reflected in the Slate piece, it wasn’t purposeful or to make a point about the importance of one kind of librarian over another. And you know, if and when Kyle does a project like this again, people will still be left out. Librarianship is too varied and immense to include everyone. This isn’t the only article that will ever be written about librarians. There will be more. And someone will always be excluded. We have to be a little more secure in our self-worth or we’re all going to have meltdowns every time something like this is published.

Overall, what I took away from this article is that some people will hate absolutely anything you do and they’re usually the loudest voices. Beyond that, I’m dismayed at the instinct of some librarians to immediately and publicly voice why certain projects could have been done so much better or why certain librarians are undeserving of praise or attention. I’ve seen this type of behavior when the Movers and Shakers Awards have been announced (the poor treatment of JP Porcaro and Ben Bizzle come to mind) and I just don’t understand it. I think it reflects poorly on librarianship as a whole. There is nothing about the Slate piece that could possibly be considered truly offensive. If you’re this mad or outraged about this article, it is your right to voice your complaints, but is this really the hill you want to go die on? Why not save our outrage for the Michael Rosemblums of the world and the other people that are really out to hurt libraries?

Did librarians really need to contact me and say that I clearly don’t understand that tech services librarians get treated like “trained monkeys”? Did librarians really have to get in touch with Kyle to let him know that instead of A, B, and C librarians he should have photographed X, Y, and Z ones? I even saw one librarian insisting on working with Kyle to write some sort of rebuttal essay to the Slate piece. A rebuttal to what? What in that article could you be that opposed to? There’s room for criticism, but there’s hardly ever room for people being generally jerky.

Kyle Cassidy offered to photograph librarians. For free. He showed up completely sleep-deprived, but ready to work. He was patient with those of us who were less than comfortable in front of the camera. I saw him talk about librarians on his Facebook wall in the following week, asking his friends to recall their childhood librarians. I thought, crap, this guy really cares about libraries. Take a look at his blog. See the kind of dialogue he is creating there. Is this really the kind of person we want to create a Twitter storm over? Good things are happening for librarians! We are all in this together. We can all benefit from someone like Kyle being on our side. This isn’t the last opportunity and this isn’t the last time there will be good press for libraries. Can we just be happy that someone did a nice thing for us? Can we be more welcoming to our advocates?

There’s another option, though, and something I’d like to keep in mind for myself the next time I see a library-related project that I don’t approve of: If you think you can do better, don’t complain. Don’t bitch. Don’t Tweet. Go do better. Go make something better. Go create something you wished you would have seen. There’s room for all of us here. There are going to be plenty of opportunities for more stories and voices and projects. So let’s just stop verbally beating each other down and let’s get shit done. If you don’t like the way I’m doing me, go do you better. I feel like this is my New Year’s Resolution.

If you appreciated what Kyle did here, hit him up on Twitter. Let him know. Say thank you. And if you’re going to criticize, I ask you to be civil about it. I’ve seen some pretty discouraging rants.

Luckily, we haven’t scared off Kyle quite yet. He’s brave enough to follow us all to Vegas for ALA Annual to photograph an even broader spectrum of librarians. So be there, be seen, get photographed, and be the kind of librarian you wish had been included.

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

♥ Facebook ♥ Twitter ♥ Libraries Changed My Life ♥ Librarian Wardrobe 

P.S.: For a more party-positive take on this situation, click here.

76 thoughts on “Slate’s This is What a Librarian Looks Like: This is why we can’t have nice things

  1. It makes me sad that you even had to follow up with an explanation as well written and detailed as this. It makes me sad that people even had an issue with this beautifully shot photo essay by Mr Cassidy and it makes me sad that you are not coming to PLA in Indianapolis.
    Then again, if you went to PLA, my guess is that you or Mr Cassidy would be accused of showing a myopic view of librarinaship by just focussing on Public librarians. Either way, I look forward to the ALA annual edition. I love my library peeps, esp when they are kind and well-spoken.

  2. Meghan

    Thank you for your thoughtful and honest post, Ingrid. I was shocked to see all the vitriol and pettiness from librarians. It was immediately clear to me who just looked at the pictures and reacted and who too the time to read the article and what the librarians themselves had to say. I don’t know if I would have been able to rise about the very unkind, very personal insults hurtled your way. I really admire the way your turning this into a challenge to critics to do better/different.

  3. I think (though I could be wrong) that I was the one you referred to about “insisting” to write a rebuttal piece. I didn’t think in the slightest i was pushing on Kyle – I offered, he said yes, and it’s going to go from there. The goal was just to collect what I had seen in reaction, and see if I can make some sense of it.

    It took some time and gentle persuasion from friends, but I do think this was a good idea (though my initial knee-jerk reaction was “again? another one of these ‘here’s what a librarian looks like’ pieces?”) – and taking it further, I would love to see a great gift book of all the librarians featured with even more that what they said about libraries.

    By the way, on the note of doing something? This led to getting the idea of offering professional headshots at conference a bit further, because we all realized we had lousy photos! 🙂

      1. Will you be taking that to Slate or writing it on your own blog? And out of curiosity, why do you think it’s necessary to involve Kyle as opposed to Jordan G. Teicher? Just curious, since you’re here to talk.

      2. Right now, just my own blog, and Kyle offered to help spread to his followers. Of course, if he knows people at Slate and they’re willing to publish it, I’m open to talking about that with them. So we’ll see.

      3. I’m still formulating my ideas (I’ve been purposely sitting on this so I don’t have a knee-jerk reaction that does more harm than good) but I thus far see two threads I want to unpack:

        1. General fatigue – why are we focusing on what we look like versus what we do, is this image obsession purely an American thing, is the stereotype issue really a problem anymore, etc.

        2. Diversity – by this I mean more than ethnic/racial diversity – I’m looking at diversity of job titles, the perception some see of the “cool kids” being picked, etc. Along with this goes the idea that some saw this as too “curated” – presenting too positive of an image of diversity in our profession when we have a long way to go.

        The idea is to be a sum total of what I have seen/read/heard, and how these ideas might be right (or even wrong).

        And, in all this, is how we can use this for our own good going further (the first thought that comes to mind is I would love to see this be a thing at every conference).

        This may change, but that’s where I’m headed right now.

      4. Even though, as I wrote in the article, it wasn’t really curated at all. At least not by Kyle. Slate chose the final 10 pictures. So why involve him?
        I just guess I feel like you’re hopping on a bandwagon instead of doing your own, original thing. But I haven’t read it. I just feel like you’re commenting on things I addressed in this post instead of doing your own awesome thing. Seems redundant to me, but I’m sure you can find a way to make it work.

      5. While the title (of Slate’s choosing) was perhaps inaccurate, this was NOT a piece of “this is how librarians look.” For those that read it instead of only looking at the pictures, the article was about the diversity of things we do and why we love to do them. This was a far cry from “look how quirky and nice we all look.” Those who had that complaint seem to not have read it.

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  5. Dana Britt

    You want to know what I thought when I saw your picture? Honestly? I thought your smile and the light in your eyes were both glorious. I thought you look like a fun person and a librarian that’s a fun person? Spectacular! She HAS to make an impact on those she meets. That’s what I thought when I saw your picture and the article–I read the piece when Kyle posted it, before any hoopla happened and I did not read any comments before or after. You, you keep being you. xo

  6. I thought the Slate piece was fabulous, and I’m looking forward to seeing more. And way to go on staying calm here in response to the garbage that’s been thrown at you and not lashing out in return. Very well done!

  7. Um. Dang. I follow Kyle on Twitter, and came over to take a look at the project. Everyone photographed looks wonderful! Rock on, librarians! You do a difficult job, with grace and humor.

  8. There are a lot of things I think about this, but the most important one right now is: You’re gorgeous. Haters gonna hate, and the internet is full of anonymous and scared creatures who like to lash out.

    Know that there are just as many of us (and I’m sure more) out here that saw your photo and were like, “she’s lovely/awesome/amazing”. Any time you feel otherwise, please reference this comment as Exhibit A, and re-read until you feel the appropriate level of Gorgeous again. Cheers!

  9. I thought they were gorgeous photographs. I’m not a librarian, just a reader and a writer, and I was baffled by the angry reactions. There seemed nothing offensive about the piece to me in the slightest. Perhaps I didn’t understand the issues.

    On a personal note, I write for the internet and I’m not a stranger to personal and vicious online attacks. While I wish I could say that it’s easy to merely brush them off with a chirpy “don’t feed the trolls,” but I don’t find it so simple. For me, it’s like being slowly chipped away at, one single tiny dig at a time, until you’re walking wounded before you even realize. It helps me to acknowledge it. It helps me to write about it, too, and I think you’ve written beautifully about all of these issues.

    1. It hurts. That first “fat” comment hit me like a ton of bricks, even though I call myself fat and am always trying to embrace a positive body image. It hurts. I think no matter how strong you are, pointed comments about your anatomy are going to sting. I’m sorry you had to go through it. It’s the pits. Chin up. ❤

      1. Oh, chin held high, no worries! I’m sorry you had to go through it. After my first really vicious attack from some MRA nutjob (I took that one pretty hard), a colleague pulled me aside to say “He’s bothering you because he’s afraid. No one would be bothering if you weren’t worthwhile.” People who sling their words like weapons are probably afraid. What a shame. And for the record, being the viral poster child for kickass librarians telling the world why what they do is critically important — well, I happen to think that’s extremely worthwhile.

  10. Off the top of my head, I think we did 28 portraits. Slate picked 10. I don’t think getting 100 in Vegas will be a problem, so I should have a much broader picture of not only what librarians look like, but what things are important to them, in about six months. Thanks for all the help!

    1. Really? 28? Oh that’s awesome! I think I was just insecure that I couldn’t find enough people.
      I think, after all this, finding 100 people in Vegas should be very easy.
      Kyle, you’re the greatest.

  11. JP Porcaro

    The key part that bugged me is people took “this is what a librarian looks like” to mean “this what all librarians everywhere look like”

    1. I think people were angry before they even read it. I hope that, in the future, when I see other people’s projects, my first reaction isn’t, “We what about me?!?” instead of celebrating the librarians involved.

      1. I know, I’m really upset about that fact. BUT I will be in Vegas and I will seek you out! I figure after being so sick at midwinter, the sickness gods will look kindly on me this summer. (Though I’ll likely be all sweaty, fyi, from the heat!)

  12. Will Shetterly

    Because the internet’s huge, a tiny percentage of bad-tempered people can make humanity look bad. Don’t let them. The point of a piece about what a group looks like is not to present the most typical members: it’s to point out the range. So remind yourself that haters make you greater and continue to glad you were part of a great thing.

  13. Well I thought you looked fantastic! My sister in law saw this and instantly posted it on my wall as a way of saying, “You guys rock!” Coincidentally I used clippers the same night and shaved my hair and dyed it red, well what’s left of it. Anyway, great response. Ignore the haters and just be glad you are a. not one of them and b. not married to one of them.

  14. Reblogged this on awakenlibrarian and commented:
    I absolutely agree with your retort. I loved your spread on Slate and the manner in which you gracefully handled your criticism. Honestly, some folks make issues when there is nothing of substance at heart! Everyone has a light to shine and your beam was well deserved! You’ve said your peace and now it’s time to move forward. Be well & great post!

  15. Catherine D.

    The original article and your response are both wonderful. Thank you for both. Also, your photo is lovely. It made me smile when I saw it.

  16. Due to an all-day statewide meeting I missed what one colleague called “the vitriol,” but after yet another colleague made it clear it had happened, I made a special point of posting the Slate article to FB with a positive comment. I mean jeeze, can we be nice when something nice happens to nice people? Please? This was far and away the best photo exhibit I’ve ever seen of librarians. Go be your beautiful selves.

  17. Sorry to hear you copped any awfulness as a result of the photo shoot.
    It was definitely a worthwhile project & I’m glad it will be repeated at Annual. I agree with you about our profession needing to step out of the echo chamber & have muggles talk about us in a positive way more often.

    On that note, you may like one of the most recent comments on Slate:
    “They look like people! They’re gods, who look like people! Librarians are my heroes. They are the great civilisers”.

  18. As a middle aged white woman IN LIBRARY school (formerly a tattoo artist and art teacher), I was thrilled to see the Slate article and to see what librarians in the field were saying/doing. There has been a surprising amount of dismissal of my choice to go into librarianship, and to see that there are professionals who are passionate about what they do made me feel good about what I want to do for the rest of my working life.

  19. The best advice I ever got about reading or responding to comments (aside from those your blog) on the internet is “don’t feed the energy machine.” As being a librarian for close to ten years, I still get excited whenever I see articles like what Slate published because I still get comments to my face such as “do they hire unattractive librarians on purpose?”; “I wish I could get paid to read books,” and “Oh, with Google and the internet, do we really need librarians?” Let the non-librarian cheerleaders cheer for us. I support it.

  20. I love Kyle’s Librarians project and am stunned and horrified that anything negative could have been said. For shame! Every single one of the photos is positive, glorious, and beautiful, and it makes me sad an essay like yours (however thoughtful) needed to be written. I personally think you look great — delightful and full of life — and are a person I would love knowing, both inside and outside of the library. Ditto for the other librarians portrayed. Librarians is a wonderful project!

    Disclosure: my photo was taken by Kyle several years ago as part of his “This is what a science fiction fan looks like”. It was like the Librarians project — Kyle generously and professionally photographed all comers at a science fiction convention, portraying a smattering of the wonderful diversity that is humanity. In 90 seconds, he made me look better than I think I look, and I know I’m not alone. All I can recall from Kyle’s science fiction fan project is acclaim — and again, I am appalled by the nastiness the librarians project triggered. To those who made cruel remarks: a pox upon your houses!

    1. Kyle creates so many great projects! And I love Sci-Fi fans. The best readers like Sci-Fi and fantasy. They have an innate ability to suspend disbelief and understand world building.

      Funny that sci-fi fans were welcoming and some librarians were not. I think we over-analyze everything. We can’t help ourselves.

      I think everyone needs their picture taken by Kyle. It makes you feel so great.

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  22. Daniel Cornwall

    A very thoughtful post. I borrowed some of your comments of “Don’t Bitch, Do Better” for a post of mine. I think your “new year’s resolution” is a good one and I’ll try to remember it too. I haven’t always in the past, but you and PC Sweeney make good points as to why librarians should be more publicly supportive of one another.

    Funny story (to me) – I saw the invites for “Wardrobe Librarian” and I was actually at Midwinter. But for some reason my mental filter made me think that the project was looking for fashionable librarians. So having no fashion sense myself I steered clear. Maybe Kyle could put out “come as you are (within reason)” line in his call for Annual?

    1. Can I see the post?

      People who responded to the photoshoot call, I told them: “Come in what you’re comfortable in and/or what makes you happy”. Maybe I should have made that more clear and I’ll keep that in mind.

      What I like about Librarian Wardrobe is that people dress as they really are. It’s not fancy librarians, not in all cases anyway. We all have different dress codes, styles, and expectations from administration. Are you coming to Annual? Come get your picture taken!

  23. Wendy Bolm

    I was directed over here from Kyle’s Facebook. When I first saw the Slate piece and saw your picture, my first instinct was to turn to my partner and say “Look, Kyle did a photo series on hot librarians.” I thought you looked great.

    I’m not surprised by the reaction. I would assume that the library world is having the same growing pains as other institutions. The old guard is upset that things are changing, and the “outsiders” want to feel included but aren’t at that point yet. I think that your response is very mature and measured, and I hope your detractors take your advice and make positive change instead of tearing things down.

    I’m a writer, so librarians are my heroes.

  24. John

    O.k. I don’t get this. From all the talk I expected something crazy but then I checked the article and the pictures. Whats the controversy? Sorry you had to experience all those negative comments, I thought the pictures and the article was great.

  25. I liked the photo essay. I did. There. I said it. I looked at the photos, and I saw people who looked like me – and I do not work with people who look like me AT ALL – I saw people who looked like the folks I admire, and I saw people who are doing awesome work.

    Maybe my glasses are keeping me from seeing it clearly, though. Too bad I need to, you know, SEE.


  26. I was completely, blissfully unaware of the brouhaha the Slate piece caused (Australian bubble?), and saddened to find out about it.

    So I just wanted to say: the Slate piece was circulated here as a “Yay! Look at this!” Everyone I saw who shared it or responded to it was just really excited to see some media coverage for the profession, and a representation of some of the MANY people who work in it. I loved it, and I wasn’t alone.

    Go you. *waves pom-poms*

  27. Peter Hepburn

    It was a terrific set of portraits, and I have to say, yours was a brilliant one to lead with for inviting people into the piece. I’m not sure that the headline writers at Slate wrote the best headline, but that’s such a small quibble in the face of these photos (and in hindsight, I can come up with nothing that would draw in readers quite so effectively so shut up, Peter). And, of course, there’s a special thrill for any of us who know one or more of the librarians featured (Jenny! JP!).

    And btw, I was glad to at last be able to meet you in person.

    Thanks for this thoughtful piece, and nicely done for your part in this wonderful photographic series.

    1. It was nice to meet you in person, too. I think you’re fantastic.

      I agree, the title isn’t the best, but I think it’s referencing the Tumblr called This is What a Scientist Looks Like, and that’s a project I admire.

  28. Pingback: This Is What A Librarian Looks Like: Ur Doin’ It Wrong Culture Must Die | Casz's Fiction Farm

  29. I know I’m really late with my comment here (and I’ll blame that on being sick since the 14th) — but I remember seeing the Slate post and getting SO excited…. and I almost turned to my co-worker at the Reference Desk to say “I KNOW HER!!!” Of course, I don’t really know you, except through your blog …. but I was still excited. I only had enough time to scroll through and see the photos, and scan the article, and then had to get back to work (so, I didn’t read comments until now …. ugh).

    Great to read your post. And, it was great to see the photos that made it into the Slate post. It reminded me a little of Chicago Public Library’s campaign a few years ago, which I also thought was really positive. 🙂

    You rock, Miss Ingrid!!

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  31. gena peone

    Thanks for putting it together Ingrid. I thought it was fun. What that opportunity provided was another chance to reflect on my personal goals and vision by having to express those ideas for the project. And hearing and reading the others remarks gave me insight to different areas within the information/library fields that I am not familiar with or involved in. Win win.

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  33. This is a most excellent response. Kudos to you. I loved your picture because you radiate joy. It is real and vibrant and gave me a bit of courage to get my own photo taken flaws and all (including a fever and what turned out to be an epic case of bronchitis.. thanks Vegas). I wish I could have met you and discussed all things youth service and wacky wardrobes. Keep on doing what you do. You are fabulous!!

  34. I thought it was nice to see a diverse set of images to counter many people’s (incorrect) assumption that librarians are boring or stuffy (and I thought you looked great, by the way). I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that that there are haters on the Internet who feel compelled to insult others for no reason. Sigh. A friend of mine years ago was a librarian and had the alphabet tattooed on her back in beautiful script. A friend of mine now is a librarian. Neither would be considered “traditional” librarians and I think the world is a better place for that.

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