A very real tension exists between librarians’ attempts to alter their image(s) and the popular press’ and the public’s lingering preference for Marian the Librarian similes. As the Hot Picks @ Your Library calendar indicates, librarians take creative opportunities to dissuade the public of the “image of a dourfaced matron behind a forbidding desk” (Gillespie 2003, A01). But how do librarians attempt to frame their own discussion of the classic caricature? The authors wanted to know how librarians themselves have considered and researched the impact of the stereotype on the profession. What follows is a literature review of materials published over the past 20 years. These materials span the gamut of libraries and librarians, from the real to the imagined, including materials such as students’ perceptions of academic librarians, the public’s misconceptions of librarians in Canadian public libraries, and portrayals of librarians in fiction. By reviewing materials published over a 20-year time period, the authors have captured a microcosmic glimpse of the changing image(s) of librarians.

Publication Date

Fall 2005