The Twelve Types of Library School Students

This is a post I started near the end of library school and meant to post during my furious last week of longish, library school-related entries.  But I never got it finished so I thought it would make a good 500th post for this blog instead. 

Yep, I’ve been at it just over a year and I’m averaging around a post and a half a day!  (But with a baby on the way, by this time next year, I’ll be lucky to be celebrating 600 posts. )

1) Yes, I know these are stereotypes.  Yes, I know that you can be both an activist and a mouse.  Or a geek and an academic.  Or in reality, probably all library students have a bit of all of the following “types” in them.  What I’m trying to say is: this is for fun – put away the PC instincts for a minute and have a laugh!

2) I’m not specifically describing any specific person I knew at library school in these write-ups although I am combining many characteristics of many people.  Still, the standard novel’s disclaimer applies: “Any resemblance to people living or dead, is entirely coincidental.”

You can play along at home.  Pick the two or three types that best define you and add them to your business card, ie: Jason Hammond, “Mature Party Geek”

Now, on to the dumb stereotypes…


An overachiever who attends library school more for the “school” part than the “library” part.  Will be one of those rare souls who does all the assigned readings.  Upon completion, will immediately enter the PhD program believing that practical library experience is beneath them. 
Dress: Tweed, preferably with elbow patches.
Typical Quote: “I believe it was Foucault who observed that visual culture has a
genealogy that needs exploring and defining in the modern as well as postmodern period.”

Favourite Book: The Spectre of Marx: The State of the Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International – Jacques Derrida
Ideal Library Role: Future Library School Professor


Summary: Angry at everything, this person has a cause that they will gladly share with you (whether you ask or not.)
Dress: Tie-dye.  A bandanna is a distinct possibility as well.
Typical Quote: “I’m boycotting <fill in the blank> because <fill in the other blank>.”
Favourite Book:
No Logo – Naomi Klein
Ideal Library Role: Community Outreach



Summary: Comes to library school once they realise that their degree in 18th Century French Lit won’t get them a job much beyond Wal-Mart Greeter. 

Varies but they tend to wear the same thing everyday as decisions make their heads hurt.

Typical Quote:
“I don’t know.  Maybe?”
Favourite Book: Nausea – Jean-Paul Sartre
Ideal Library Role: Academic librarian since they love being in school



Often confused with The Mouse (see below), The Bookworm is slightly different in that they aren’t necessarily shy, they’re just always reading – in class, on the bus, in the elevator between floors 1 and 2.
Dress: The absent-minded professor style – mismatched socks, uncombed hair, wrinkled shirt and pants.  No time for these details when there are books to read!
Typical Quote:  “Did you read <insert name of any book on Globe and Mail Fiction or Nonfiction Top Ten list>?  It was great!”

Favourite Book: Publisher’s catalogues.
Ideal Library Role: Acquisitions Librarian


a world that attracts mildly eccentric personalities, the true library
school eccentric is a special case.  Freed from societal norms, they
indulge in such unique activities talking to themselves, talking to talking to computers in the lab, talking to books on the shelves. 

Dress: Outlandish – underwear on the outside, clothes inside out.  Random accessories of many colours.  A range of hats.

Typical Quote:
“My cat talks to me.”
Favourite Book: The dictionary (working on reading it from cover to cover)
Ideal Library Role: Children’s Librarian (seriously)



Summary: This person believes overdue fees are a good source of revenue for libraries, charging patrons for priority placement on holds is a better source of revenue and an in-house Starbucks would be the best source of revenue.  Likely ended up in library school after being rejected by an MBA program. 

Suit and tie, even on “Casual Fridays”

Typical Quote:
“Why shouldn’t Coca Cola have naming rights to the children’s section?”
Favourite Book: How To Win Friends & Influence People – Dale Carnegie
Ideal Library Role: Vendor rep or library consultant



Obsessed with computers, not so much with social interaction (unless Facebook counts.)  
Dress: baggy comfortable clothes, often sweat pants or a mumu.  Shaving and haircuts optional.
Typical Quote:  “There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.”

Favourite Book: The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
Ideal Library Role: Systems Librarian

disclaimer: I had a long debate with a colleague about whether I should
include this and the following sections as they’re not really “types”
and theoretically, the only two items on this page that possibly
violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  But again, this post is
just for fun, I’m completely aware that all of these entries are
trafficking in dumb stereotypes and I think it’s a shame that a guy who
spent so much time reading “Mad” magazine as a child would self-censor
now.  In fact, the bigger crime is that I wasn’t able to make these
sections a lot funnier so if you’re going to be offended by something,
be offended by that!)

Summary: Librarianship is known as one of the most progressive, liberal professions on earth (slightly to the left of South American freedom fighter) and this is part of the reason library schools attract such a high percentage of gay students.
Dress: Pink for the men, plaid for the women.
Typical Quote: Female: “In a male-dominated society…”  Male: “In a male-dominated society…”
Favourite Book: The Importance of Being Ernest – Oscar Wilde
Ideal Library Role: Teen Services.

Summary: Men are a minority at library school, filling anywhere from 1/4 to 1/3 of the spots.  Yet, they are a majority in terms of library upper-level management positions (this stat is based on my sample size of the four upper level managers I know.  But I suspect it’s pretty accurate.)  Male library students, being more sensitive than typical men (we cry during the national anthem before Hockey Night in Canada), tend to feel sincerely guilty about this imbalance.
Dress: Jean, t-shirts, backwards ball cap. 
Typical Quote: (about men in library school) “If you’re a man in library school, it’s likely that you’re either gay, married or weird.  Possibly all three.”
Favourite Book: Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
Ideal Library Role: Reference (since so many men think they know everything anyhow)


Summary: Returns to school after a long absence of working and/or raising children.  Tends to sit at the front centre of the classroom and often believes the class is a personal dialogue between them and the professor. 

Librarian chic

Typical Quote:
“Well, what I’ve found while working in the real world…”
Favourite Book: The Wealthy Barber – David Chilton
Ideal Library Role: Management (they’ve already got the experience!)


The librarian stereotype come to life.  Quiet.  Bookish.  Mousy.
Dress: Glasses on a chain.  Cardigan.  Sensible shoes.  Hair in a bun.
Typical Quote: “Shhh!”
Favourite Book: Fanny Hill (or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) –John Cleland  (the flip side of the mousy stereotype – the horny librarian within!)
Ideal Library Role: Cataloguing.


Exuberant personality who believes it is their mission to personally change the traditional stereotype of librarians, mainly by consuming copious amounts of alcohol. 
Dress: Bar clothes, heavy make-up, styled hair, pack of cigarettes at the ready.
Typical Quote: “One more round! Class doesn’t start until 8:30 a.m.”
Favourite Book: Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
Ideal Library Role: Public Relations & Marketing



Here are a couple other links to sites with a similar theme:

Something Awful Forums – A brief summary of 99% of the people you will ever meet in college (Be forewarned – these descriptions are quite rude but also, dead on much of the time.)

Librarian Types

Comments 12

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Had to laugh at the ideal job for the eccentric, as I've been saying for weeks now that you have to be a little bit nuts to be a children's librarian (or you'll go stark raving mad … either way, insanity is part of the job).

    Posted 27 Mar 2007 at 2:20 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    From the kid's point of view too, I think they love those crazy personalities that make the books so exciting and engaging.
    It's sort of the same rule that applies to children's authors – Robert Munsch is OCD and manic depressive and the best children's authors I've seen are the ones who are just a bit crazy.

    Posted 27 Mar 2007 at 9:26 pm
  3. Anonymous wrote:

    Hee- but, God, I hope I'm the bookworm and not an aimless mouse.

    Posted 27 Mar 2007 at 9:41 pm
  4. Anonymous wrote:

    Bookworm was a late addition to the list to make an even dozen.
    But as I looked over the stalker pages (er, as I contemplated deeply within myself while waiting for inspiration about a final category to add), “Book Worm” seemed like a natural. Although “Book worm” is also probably the one characteristic that applies to 99% of people in library school so it's not such a great category for cataloguing people.
    I definitely wouldn't class you as aimless – didn't you come right to library school from undergrad? That shows a hell of a lot more direction than most of us have/had!
    You're probably somewhere on the bookworm — mousy continuum on first glance but you've also got an edgy/subversive dry humour lurking beneath the surface that I unfortunately didn't manage to fit into any of the categories.

    Posted 27 Mar 2007 at 9:58 pm
  5. Anonymous wrote:

    Well done Mr. Hammond, well done.
    I am Not mousy. 😛

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 2:51 am
  6. Anonymous wrote:

    Who said you were mousy? I believe I classed you as “mousy activist” 😉

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 2:55 am
  7. Anonymous wrote:

    It is funny to read “The Homosexual” in a taxonomy. Maybe you should have used a hyphen!
    But seriously, you should go meta and add “The Taxonomist”.

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 2:39 pm
  8. Anonymous wrote:

    Not sure I follow. Does “homosexual” mean something different than “homo-sexual”?
    I like your idea for the new “Taxonomist” type. Anybody else have any other suggestions? Feel free to write your own and post them as a comment – filling in the summary, style of dress, typical quote, favourite book and ideal library role.
    One I thought of that I use on this blog sometimes is “Rock Star Librarian” – these are the folks that just ooze love of libraries, perhaps almost to a sickening degree. It's sort of like if you took book worm/academic and activist and swirled them in a blender.
    I have been put in that category by others and have called others by that name.

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 9:33 pm
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    Oh My God!
    I finally understand myself… true party animal!
    ~ Steph

    Posted 28 Mar 2007 at 10:47 pm
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Well, the stereotypes also say that “Party Animal” is the rarest “type” within library school. But in my experience, there are tons of them – including you!

    Posted 29 Mar 2007 at 5:54 am
  11. Anonymous wrote:

    I'm the Aimless lol…when I realized my college diploms and University degree in Criminology hasn't gotten me anywhere. Also a smidgen eccentric but fear I don't have the patience for children's services.
    One question…what direction is the field moving? Where are the niches and what should my focus of concentration be? After all this school, I am kind of burnt out and need to know where the jobs are so I can start my life sometime before or shortly after 30…preferably.
    Thank you in advance for your guidance! ,
    – the aimless

    Posted 17 Aug 2010 at 3:08 pm
  12. Anonymous wrote:

    Hmm, what direction is the field moving? That' a *tough* question as everybody in it will likely have a different answer. From a public library perspective, I'm big on saying that libraries are going to be more about technology so that's one area where I don't think it hurts to learn more about. Any skills that are transferable and/or rare are good – lots of current librarians feel like we don't do a good job of teaching management skills in library schools. Advocacy is more and more important. Showing that you're engaged in the profession and have involvement and interests beyond the MLIS that every other applicant for a job has can set you apart and help you get that first job.
    Hope that helps!

    Posted 05 Sep 2010 at 3:16 pm
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