Another awesome chapter revealed for The Librarian Stereotype: Deconstructing Perceptions and Presentations of Information Work with ACRL Press!
Erin Pappas is Librarian for Social Sciences and European Languages at Georgetown University in Washington, DC
Q1: Provide a brief summary of your chapter
This chapter focuses on tattoos as a form of semiotic and communicative practice. I used an online survey to sample people who self-identify as librarians and to ask them about their tattoos. It’s an initial foray into a topic which has so far garnered a fair amount of digital ink, but that often talks around rather than directly to the people involved. More broadly, I’m concerned with how role, position, and context affect interpersonal interaction and professional presentation.
Q2: What do you think is one of the most pressing issues regarding the librarian stereotype?
Without a doubt: its uninterrogated whiteness. For a profession that is so concerned with image and that values diversity, this seems like a pretty glaring omission.
Q3: What sparked your interest to write this chapter?
Well, for the last seven years I was in graduate school for anthropology, and wasn’t really keeping up with conversations about librarianship. After that hiatus, a lot had changed! Social media, in particular, really exploded with images of librarians. So when things like style, haircolor, tattoos, and piercings come under scrutiny, to me that reads to me as a specific commentary on real bodies, not as simply an abstract concept. I wanted to explore the complexities of the discourse about tattooed librarians in particular.
Q4: Who is your librarian role model?
I really admire people who balance enthusiasm with a deep commitment to social justice, like Lia Friedman and Emily Drabinski. In all things, I strive to be more like Amy Poehler. (Or Leslie Knope.)
Q5: Tell us something fun about yourself!
I’m a huge sketch comedy geek, and did the Comedy Writing Program at Second City. I also love makeup and own far too much of it. I will enthusiastically apply cosmetics to anyone who expresses even a marginal interest in a makeover.