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Libraries in Pop Culture: Shushing Librarian Stereotypes

A resource guide to facilitate conversation about the (mis)perception of librarians as seen through media & entertainment.

Library stereotypes are found in all types of media, especially film and television. They are often negative and directly undermine the valuable work that information professionals do in the increasingly information rich world in which we live. It's important to be mindful of these stereotypes because they can have an impact on your understanding of the library as a valuable tool and resource.





Let's Get Started!

1. Consider stereotypes. Ask yourself:

  • What exactly is a stereotype?
  • What is the impact of stereotypes on our lives?
  • What actions can we take to stop the perpetuation of stereotypes?

2. Watch the video clips below. Ask yourself:

  • What stereotypes do I see?
  • Do I believe in or have I experienced these stereotypes?
  • Why is it important to know what librarians really do?


Let's Dig Deeper!

Stereotype Defined:
  • a widely held but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing
  • is both a noun and a verb


LIBRARIES are negatively stereotyped as:

LIBRARIANS are negatively stereotyped as:

  • empty/going unused
  • dark and devoid of light
  • quiet spaces only


  • meek, timid, and unassertive in nature
  • continuously telling library users to be quiet
  • reading on the job/being lazy/moving slowly
  • overtly and overly sexy OR sexually repressed
  • an unapproachable egghead
  • a spinster
  • staggeringly rude and unhelpful


You might think the most important resource of a library is the book or database collection.

But actually, it's the librarians! They are curators and interpreters of information!


“The librarian…What we actually do.” Image source: Otis College of Art and Design Library.

Image Source: Mr. Library Dude Blog