Five from the Hive: Top 5 Fictional Librarians.

Welcome to the latest Five From the Hive blog post! Who are your favourite fictional librarians? We often have this conversation, so for this latest Five from the Hive we are looking at the 5 Most Popular Fictional Librarians (as voted for by staff at Durham University Library and Collections). Then we’ll look beyond the stereotypes of librarians to highlight the diverse work we really do!

1)Rupert Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

2)The Grey Lady (Ghostbusters)

3)Evelyn Carnahan (The Mummy)

4)The Librarian (Discworld)

5)Dr Barbara Gordon/Bat Girl (Batman Universe)

The top 5 is a good mix of characters, and there are certainly some very well known and popular ones – did your favourite make it? As librarians we find it fun when we see our job in films or books, but we know they not an accurate portrayal of what librarians actually do in real life (or even look like).

As a profession, there are many types of librarian. They include academic librarians, public librarians, school librarians and specialist librarians (e.g. Law, Health etc).

At Durham we are an Academic Library, and the the range of job roles we have is very diverse – Customer Services, Cataloguing/Metadata, Classification, Acquisitions, Electronic Resources, Journals, Finance, Systems, Research, Faculty and Subject Support, Rare Books, Conservation, archives, Shelving, Processing, Teaching and Engagement, Management, Inter Library Loan, Open Access, Health & Safety, Disability Support and many many more.

Our work can include working on the Help & Information Desk, answering online enquiries, emails (often lots of emails), video Calls, buying books, receiving deliveries, paying invoices, making online resources available, cataloguing and processing new books, shelving, scanning, social media, teaching, planning, strategy, HR, conservation, marketing, weeding, book moves, meetings and much, much more.

Our roles are interesting and diverse, but we don’t do vampire slaying or fighting crime or Egyptian Mummies (although we do highly recommend visiting the Egyptian Displays at the Oriental Museum) in our daily duties.

Whenever people ask what I do as a job, I tell them I’m a librarian and I usually get a follow up such as “You must read a lot?…It must be very quiet where you work?…What do you spend fines on?” or even just silence or “that’s interesting” – either because they don’t know what to say, or maybe because they had a bad experience at some point in their lives with a librarian. The thing is, not all librarians read a lot (some do, but it’s not compulsory), the library is not totally quiet because we encourage group discussions and work – although there are designated quiet areas. We currently don’t charge fines and when we did the money was used to replace damaged and missing books.

The librarian isn’t a clerk who happens to work in a library. A librarian is a data hound, a guide, a Sherpa and a teacher. The librarian is the interface between reams of data and the untrained but motivated user.

Seth Godin

However you engage with a library service, it is happening because of a librarian in some way. We have been proud to have been able to deliver services on site over the last 16 months (although limited), but also proud we have managed to deliver services with staff working remotely.

What I am trying to say is there much more to us than a stereotype. We rarely stamp books now or ‘Shhh’ people. The Library service we provide now is adapting to the needs of staff and students.

As Librarians, we are always learning and encouraging further development professionally. Whether this is through our Staff Development Group or by recently starting the new intern programme which gives the opportunity for new librarians to gain experience in working in a library.

Hopefully this blog post has made you think about what Librarians do, maybe even think about a career in Libraries yourself!

To learn more about us read our #DUIntroducing Series of Blog posts.

Right, I think its time to watch another episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

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