Librarians in popular culture – Monsters’ University

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.

The Library of Alexandria at your fingertips

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.