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Mr. Mustache, another librarian blog

I am a reference librarian with experience in both the public and state government fields. I am doing this on a whim, sort of like the mustache I grew when I was 19 and still have in my 50's.

Location: New Jersey, United States

I am a state worker and a librarian.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Men in libraries

Today we are going to talk about the issue of male employees in libraries. In the old days men’s roles in libraries were well delineated. A male was either the custodian, the Director, or – in a large public or academic library, the Head of Reference. Staff knew to be nice to new male librarians because they knew they would be the Director someday. Women did everything else.

Now the roles are less heavily delineated. Women can be Directors as well as custodians. Men can work on the circulation desk (which would have been unheard of in the distant past). Men can work as clerks as well as in professional positions. It seems the only task that they are not permitted to do is act as the Children’s Librarian.

Even today, though, men are the minority in all but the most technical libraries, and men must realize that they are working in a woman’s world not a man’s one. A man must get used to listening to women talk about their children, their relatives and their health. Sometimes women will talk about things that are not intended for a man’s ears. A man must know when his presence is not desired. For example it is acceptable for a man to look at pictures of a newborn. However when the conversation turns to the more stringent aspects of labor and delivery the man must vacate the room.

Having men in a library can be burdensome.The custodian has to maintain the men's restroom. They can monopolize the break room with talk of the deck they are hammering together or the time they rebuilt their carburetor.

Technology is the best thing that ever happened to men in libraries. Technology in libraries make the work seem less sissy. Men can do mannish things like carry boxes containing new printers, and installing drivers, USB lines and formatting new hard drives.

Women can install software but usually it is a man who installs the hardware. Men can add toner and fix paper jams. Women can add paper and edit documents. The age of hunters and gatherers is still with us. Men are hardware people and women are software people. Hardware people who can pop the case of a computer make more money than software people. One caveat however. Men don’t like to fill out warranty cards.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

After 15 years in the profession and the last 10 in my position I am moving on from the profession. Despite my library degree, excellent reviews and work record women in my library continue to get promoted while the men stay in their positions. I recently interviewed at a library where I was one of the two finalist. I was passed over in favor of a woman who just graduated from library school and has considerably less experience. Libraries are a woman's world and will continue to be one. It is no wonder boys lag far behind girls when it comes to reading.

11:45 AM  

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