Dispelling the myths surrounding Librarian stereotypes: Guest blog by our Information Governance Manager, Lucy Roper

Posted on: 2019-11-13

In 2018, Emerald (one of our UCEM e-Library subscription services) launched ‘International Librarian Day’ to celebrate the work librarians do.

Emerald recently ran a survey with 2018 members of the UK public in partnership with YouGov UK, to uncover the perceptions of a librarian; specifically, what people think the role of a librarian is and who they think a librarian is both in a physical appearance and personality.

Some of the outcomes from the survey included that:

  • Almost half (44%) thought that the role of a librarian is to keep a library quiet;
  • Over half (52%) thought the role of a librarian is to keep a library tidy;
  • 1 in 10 said a librarian is boring;
  • 1 in 10 think a librarian would be shy;
  • Almost 1 in 10 (9%) said that they never spoke to their librarian during their time at university.                                              (Emerald Publishing, 2019)

Emerald’s International Librarian Day is today (Wednesday 13 November) and this year, whilst the work of librarians will continue to be celebrated, a key goal is to challenge the stereotypes.

Personally, I think being a librarian is just the best job ever …. but then I would say that having been a library and information professional for over 20 years now.

A library is a great place to work. It’s fun, no day is ever the same, the role is constantly evolving and allows us to continually develop and learn new things. In my specific role, it allows me to help others and in return is valued by staff and students making it not only a very fulfilling job but a great reason to get up in the morning and enjoy coming into work.

Some may say: ‘Why have libraries at all when you have the internet?’ but my response is always that us ‘Happy Librarians’ are valuable search engines ourselves but… we have a heart. We listen and understand the library and information requirements of others and provide quality responses in a format that is accessible and suits the individual needs, ultimately helping support our students to aide their studies and contribute towards their success.

Key factors behind any successful library and library collection is that it should be fit for purpose and tailored to fit the specific needs of, in our case, the UCEM student community it services, focusing on education, but also aiming to inspire and excite.

Nowadays, us librarians deal with information in many different formats and delivery methods, including books, journals, magazines, newspapers (in hard and soft copy versions), audio recordings (both musical and spoken-word), video recordings, maps, manuscripts, photographs and other graphic material, bibliographic databases, web searching, and an ever-increasing range of digital resources.

A librarian may provide additional information services, including in some cases computer provision and digital literacy training, the coordination of public programmes and events, basic literacy and numeracy education, study skills, assistive equipment for people with disabilities, and help with finding and using resources.

As Library and Information Professionals, we need to …

  • Be a Library advocate and promote greater visibility;
  • Ensure accessibility, diversity and inclusivity;
  • Constantly strive for continual improvement in what we do.


As R. David Lankes said:

“The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation into their communities.”


So … When was the last time that you visited your library, and spoke to a librarian?

Emerald would also welcome your comments and would love for you to get involved on via their dedicated Twitter channel, @EmeraldLibrary.