In one iteration of my thesis, I was researching the way in which the role of the librarian is portrayed in popular culture. I’d seen references to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ghostbusters, The Mummy and The Mummy Returns to name just a few. However, one day when I had nothing better to do (oh yeah), I watched Monsters’ University, the prequel to Monsters Inc. I was surprised to discover that there was a librarian portrayed, but had not seen any reference to it amongst the academic or popular culture writings on librarians.
So this little bonus vignette caught my eye as multi award winning Pixar Films can do some interesting stuff. However, my fantasy was then completely shattered as the worn out and age-old stereotype of the librarian was wheeled out, yet again. Have a look at the library scene for yourself.
That’s right, the stereotypical unattractive female librarian, who in this case isn’t a dragon or a witch, but a monster, only exists to fling students out of the library if they dare make a noise. Her depiction by Pixar demonstrates the laziness of filmmakers who use such stereotypes for a shortcut to laughs.
Thanks to Kim Yeomans who forwarded me the link to this trailer for the new US television series of The Librarians. This fits nicely with aspects of my research which includes the role and image of librarians in popular culture.
Recently The Age published an article entitled Technology pushes teacher student relationships into new territory. It was an interesting read, but didn’t go far enough in my opinion. The quote from Andrew Douch saying
Everybody’s got access to the Library of Alexandria at their fingertips. We can take the conversation up a whole other level,” he said. “Students will be able to supply better and more recent answers than the teacher can, which is exciting and threatening maybe for some teachers.
is true. However, what was not mentioned in the article is the need for students (and teachers) to verify the validity of the information at their fingertips. This is what librarians did (and still do) when selecting books to be placed in the library collection. Librarians also do this when curating and developing Libguides, YouTube playlists or other resources that point to valid information online. This video from QUT Library helps show students how to validate what’s available online.
While doing some research, I came across the trailer for this film on YouTube.
Fortunately my local library has a copy. Should be interesting to see lots of examples as to how librarians are portrayed by Hollywood (not well, I am thinking.)
Just to show that we have a sense of humour.