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October 01, 2011

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John Kirriemuir

On the plus side, it chips away at the misconception that many people bizarrely have, of all librarians being female and one of two extremes (either prudish, bun-haired senior susher, or young, buxom slut).

On the minus side, yeah - where were there any indications that these were librarians? They don't have to all be taken in a library, but one or two, surely? Possibly the ethos was to show that librarians hey have a life outside of the library, but it means that these could be people in any profession.

"Women enjoy it for fun, and men get turned on by it" - hmmm - possibly women are generally more subtle and controlled in their public reaction, despite what they are thinking / feeling? There's a few females (and am thinking of specific librarians who tweet) who would make unsubtle and anatomical reference to what they'd like to do to the librarians. But a calendar of female librarians would generate, perhaps, a much higher rate of "Phwoarr" "I would" "Look at the **** on that" comments from men-boys who see one square inch of cleavage and publicly lose it. As an example, the tweet-tsunami when the recent pictures of Scarlett J went online.

Helen Murphy

Great article,Phil! Here's my tuppence's worth. Speaking personally, I think it's JUST a bit of fun. I completely agree with you that it doesn't say anything about what librarians actually do, it doesn't say why libraries are important, nor will it increase visits to libraries. But I disagree with you that in not doing this stuff it's "failing in its key aim". I think this is perhaps an opportunity missed, but little more.

In fact, its key aim, if it indeed has one, is to raise some dosh for a brilliant cause. I hope for the sake of its cause it really, really succeeds. Instead of raising awareness of what librarians/libraries do, it's bashed the twinset-and-pearls stereotype about a bit, which is all very well and good. But I do like to think that in my day-to-day life I too bash that stereotype about a bit, as do most of the librarians I know.

I think we're analysing the calendar as librarians, and more to the point, librarians who are acutely aware that our profession is in a world of trouble. We're seeing every opportunity missed as a Big Deal. I promise you, I'm not for a second suggesting that it isn't. But I am saying that if it weren't Men of the Stacks but the frankly less pithy Men of the Double-Entry Bookkeeping Ledgers, if it instead featured a whole host of semi-naked accountants (who also suffer from a bit of negative stereotyping) then I think we'd laugh, tut, roll our eyes at the blatant sexism, and not worry too much about it.

John Kirriemuir

Alternately, you could just be grumpy because you weren't asked to be Mr October :-)

Bobbi

Phil
I think you're asking for an awful lot from a calendar. Sometimes things are just meant to be fun. It's fun. The proceeds go to a good cause, why don't have it to do more? like liberate male librarians everywhere and prove to legislators that libraries need more funding and secure our place in the digital world.

Oh and I think your'e mostly right had it been a calendar of women it would have been different. You hit the nail on the head -"women enjoy it for fun, and men get turned on by it". Woman can't really be semi-naked without getting sexualized but that's a whole different topic.

Anonymous Commentor

I agree that the reaction would have been quite different if the librarians had been female. So, I don't feel quite comfortable endorsing this myself. But if other people think it's great, more power to them.

Lauren

I can...kind of see what they were trying, maybe...? but my gut feeling is that in order to change perceptions of libraries and librarians, it needs to be about what we do as professionals, in our jobs, that makes us relevant and necessary, not what we look like, regardless of gender or ethnicity - clothed or otherwise. I could think harder about it, this is just my initial reaction. I'm happy they're doing something, at least - it's clear that hearts are in the right places :)

Pam

I understand what you're saying, but really, who's gonna shell out $20 for the danged thing if it's about "what we do as professionals, in our jobs, that makes us relevant and necessary."

Phil Bradley

Yes Pam - I think you're right. Which means that it's automatically failed in its primary objective, and ends up being a calendar of nice looking blokes. Which is fine of course, but not the point.

@Bainofmylife

We've all been here before. As a skinny, nearly approaching the hill library person I would like a few verbs in the calendar I would sign up for like - read (OK Passive but still relevant), search, learn, engage, talk(!), play, work, ask etc. and mix up the male with the fe-male and the patrons with the staff - its a mashup culcha ennit?

Polyxena

I haven't looked at it and won't be. I find the whole concept distasteful and can't see why anyone would be interested in it. I don't like this sort of project to reflect the image of any group and don't find it relevant to my profession as I want it to be.

web design London

I could think harder about it, this is just my initial reaction. I'm happy they're doing something, at least - it's clear that hearts are in the right places..

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