when I grow up I want to work in a $99 toy library

I was doing some research for the CILIP Graduate Day next week (aaaargh, I mean: this week!) and I came across this:  

All mod cons.
All mod cons.

It may be old news to most of you but I’d not seen it before – a Buffy the Vampire Slayer Library Play-Set, lovingly recreating Rupert Giles’s old fashioned library. 

This is one of those things like the Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure Doll which makes me unsure what to think – on the one hand it’s making the whole idea of libraries and librarians a bit more accessible, fun even, and ensuring their presence in popular culture. On the other hand, it’s doing so in such a way as to perpetuate some of the less desirable stereotypes – in the Nancy Pearl case, she’s just another Old Maid / Library Policeman cross-over (when in real life she’s approachable, cross generational, and generally not just a cliché) and the case of this toy library, it’s a library which has absolutely nothing to do with what we work in today.

The books are, of course, old. Rows upon rows of identical volumes that look like they’re from the 1800s. (This is probably necessary for Giles – I’ve never watched the show but presumably he calls upon the knowledge of the ancients to help facilitate vampire death, or whatever he does.) There is an old-fashioned globe on the table. There are candles in the windows for chrissakes! Candles! And of course, there’s no technology at all, no computer, no nothing. It obstructs our users / patrons / customers from seeing as we really are, and gives kids the idea that libraries now are just like they always have been.

This chimes in something I was wondering over on Woodsiegirl’s blog, about whether people who grow up wanting to be librarians actually do any of the things they thought they’d be doing, once they eventually become one? I never considered the Information Profession at all, growing up, and just sort of fell into it when I needed a job quickly to help pay a new mortgage. However I do know other Information Professionals for whom this job was always the aim, even from childhood. But if you’re a child of the 80s, would you really have had any idea what you were getting yourself into? Particularly in the academic library, the job landscape is pretty unrecognisable from then to now, I would say. I wonder how many other professions have undergone such a sea-change in what is expected from people in the role, over the length of time it takes to get from wanting to be X when you grow up, to actually growing up? Because 80s children who ‘really liked reading / books’ and ‘enjoyed quiet spaces’ must have got a hell of a shock when they got their first library job.

Who knows what it will be like for today’s five year olds, when they go to the CILIP Graduate Day in 2025? I’m sure they’ll arrive in a hover-car and dress in silver, for a start…