The third and fourth week of June I was in New Orleans along with about 18,000 other librarians at ALA. Attendance was down, and I know not why because Nola is the BEST conference city ever and ALA ain’t coming back there–maybe after 2017?
Librarians were easily spotted by prey. The red ALA bag gave them away. And many, despite being warned by ALA literature still wore their conference badges around their necks outside of Morial CC which gave their names, place of work, and city of origins, making them easy marks for mugging or busking or whatnot. Spotting them navigating the streetcars was easy–they held maps up to their noses. They staggered onto the streetcars drunkenly, despite not having imbibed cocktails. Librarians, please!
Methinks the humidity unbalanced them. Bartenders commented: “There are librarians in town this week.” And we outed ourselves, to that bartender, because it wasn’t readily apparent that we belonged to that group. Ahem. Dermatologists however, party hearty, have fabulous skin, and much whiter teeth than librarians do. Librarians, take note: Whiten your teeth and dermabrasion.
Curiously, librarians were better dressed than in years past. I didn’t spot the first matching full skirt and floral sweater ensemble typical of 1980’s-era children’s librarians. I should have been an anthropologist or sociologist because I revel in watching the members of my profession flock and flow and flaunt themselves at annual conferences.
As with most professions, people from all subcultures and lifestyles are drawn to librarianship so there are goth librarians, emo librarians, trendy librarians, messenger-bag librarians, roller derby librarians, frump librarians, metro-sexual librarians, suit-wearing librarians, frump librarians, librarians on the verge-of-retirement, sensible-shoe wearing librarians, and geeked-out librarians. There are cool librarians, not-so-cool librarians, and those who fall in-between.
At this ALA, there was a call, a search for America’s Most Glamorous Librarian. They have a facebook page where they posted photos of librarians. Take a look-see. Granted, some posed in cocktail attire at fancy events. Who knew there were fancy events at ALA? Perhaps the votes are being tallied still and no person was named America’s Most Glamorous Librarian, yet.
Then there’s Librarian Wardrobe. I tried uploading a photo of my ALA-friendly Danskos via my iPad, but couldn’t. Someday I might submit.
Lots of folks concern themselves with how librarians dress and how this affects professional identity. As well it should. Did your read Laura Sloan Patterson’s Chronicle article about how academics typically don’t concern themselves with matters of style, but that they should because as a student Patterson
considered my professors’ clothing a key part of the curriculum, integrated into the content of their lectures, the ways they interacted with students, and their very individuality.
Good for you if you read the Chronicle because it demonstrates that you’re inching your way outside of the narrow niche of library literature. And if you steep yourself in library literature, like Steven Bell says, you’re not promoting professional development, and may in fact promote professional stagnation. But even better for you if, like me, you read Vogue. Because, apparently too few librarians read Vogue. Seriously though, I take it for granted that librarians are curious and love learning. I assume that all librarians love to read outside of librarianship, but maybe they don’t, because some of the greatest library innovations come from the intersection of two very different worlds. Like, perhaps Fashion and Librarianship.
One of the librarians at my table at the ALA preconference I attended checked her email and announced her Living Social perk (or whatever–I don’t do Living social, so what do I know? right?).
“Twelve Botox ampoules?! What can I do with those?“
“Share them with us?” I said.
She stared at me.
“Or use them all on your underarms. Okay. It’s hot. We’re in New Orleans. We’re sweaty. Botox injected into your underarms prevents hyperhidrosis.“
Of course, I didn’t use the technical term. I’m sexing my dialogue up for this blog post.
This was news to them, the five or six librarians seated at my table, none of whom, apparently read Vogue, where I’m sure I picked up this tidbit of beauty-related knowledge. You see, Vogue is not just for looking at the photo spreads.
So, I’m not saying that Botox and Librarianship will lead to an innovation. But, my knowledge gathered from my outside reading provided an immediate answer to a librarian’s question of “what can I do with twelve Botox ampoules?”
That’s what I call Rapid Response Reference.