Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians

I love seeing how the public and the media portray librarians. Whether it’s the shushing/conservative stereotype, “naughty librarian” stereotype, under-appreciated & over-worked public servant (this one is NSFW-but one of my faves!), dealing with inept patrons, or even ones that combine the brainy stereotype with sexiness – I eat it up. I wonder if accountants or architects feel the same way when they see their field portrayed?

Entering Pop Culture

So, how do we know when librarians have hit the big time? Lego has introduced a Lego Librarian – part of its minifigures series line. This line of minifigures is an eclectic group. Series #10, which the librarian belongs to, also includes a warrior woman, sad clown, and a paintball player among others. In fact, the librarian is the only viable career option in the set! How cool is that?

There are 150+ minifigures, only about 10 require a college degree, so the librarian is in rare company!

Here’s the Lego Librarian [screen capture from the Lego website]:

Screen shot 2013-07-06 at 11.35.20 PM

The official Lego Librarian, part of Minifigures Series 10.

OK, so it plays into several librarian stereotypes…but I would expect nothing less. The Lego character must be easily identifiable to the public: “Oh yeah, THAT is a librarian!” So, what do we have?…

  • Female? Check.
  • Glasses? Check.
  • Cardigan? Check.
  • Sensible hair? Check.
  • Book? Check.
  • Coffee cup that reads “Shhh!” Check.

Oranges and Peaches

The creators went to some lengths to add a bit of fun. There’s even an inside joke in regards to the “Oranges and Peaches” book. It’s a reference to the 1995 movie Party Girl starring Parker Posey as a library clerk. In the scene below, a patron asks for Darwin’s Origin of Species. The Parker character mistakes it for “Oranges and Peaches”:

A Biographical Story

The Lego Librarian comes with a brief bio. Again, it plays into some trite stereotypes, but it’s fun:

Books are just about the Librarian’s most favorite thing in the entire world. Reading them can take you on exciting adventures in far-off lands, introduce you to new friends and cultures, and let you discover poetry, classic literature, science fiction and much more. If only everybody loved to read as much as she does, the world would be a better place…and quieter, too! The Librarian feels that it’s extremely important to treat a book with the proper respect. You should always use a bookmark instead of folding down the corner of the page. Take good care of the dust jacket, and don’t scribble in the margins. And above all else, never – ever – return it to the library late!

It’s no surprise that the Lego Librarian is female. It should be. We’re a female-dominated profession. It makes sense. But I wanted to have some fun, so I decided to to see if I could make the librarian version of me – Mr. Library Dude. It was not hard.

I grabbed the Lego computer programmer minifigure. He’s wearing a sweater vest and glasses. Doesn’t that scream male librarian? I actually think I have that EXACT sweater vest! I added an iPhone (those who know me never see me without mine) and I invented the Mr. Library Dude Lego Librarian:

This is Mr. Library Dude.

This is Mr. Library Dude.

Lego Librarians on Parade

So besides the official Lego Librarian version and my knock-off, how might we portray other librarians in Lego form? Or what other ways are we perceived by peers or the public? I decided to take a stab at it and had a bit of fun. Maybe you even know a few of these. So here’s my satirical take. What would you add?

Note: Naturally, the LEGO images below are popular with children. Please be forewarned: there is a bit of cursing below.

Update: By popular request, I have added a children’s librarian. Look for the chicken suit!

“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”  🙂

173 thoughts on “Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians

  1. I love it! You should start your own Lego Librarians Mini Figure Series. I see endless possibilities.

  2. Pingback: Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians |...

  3. Great posting! All we need now is a lego library cat or owl for the side kick of the lego librarian. …

  4. Oh, thank you for the cataloger mini-figure! ❤
    I was so excited when I found the librarian mini-figure, and all on my own, too. I didn't have to have help from my niece, nephew, or husband (they're pros at this game). I took her picture and used her as my profile pic on all my social media sites and a bunch of my friend wanted to know how I got a Lego that looked like me. So the stereotype is obviously being reinforced daily. By me, apparently.

  5. I am sure I see Ingrid Coleslaw in there. Someone needs to direct the creator of the original Lego Librarian to the This is What a Librarian Looks Like site….

  6. I altered mine so that the mug says “Ahhh!” instead of “Shhh!” I actually wrote to Lego about the stereotype, asking when the last time they were in a library was… since I have been a librarian for 20 years and never said Shhh to anyone (it may help that I’m a Music LIbrarian, so quiet is not generally expected in our area, but still…). That being said, the character looks rather like me – long dark hair, glasses, sensible-ish shoes – though I don’t wear sweaters because I get too hot in them. They actually wrote back and thanked me for drawing their attention to the fact that it’s such a stereotype and they will keep things like that in mind in the future.

    • That’s great that you wrote to Lego about the stereotype! I’d like to end that whole thing.
      Then again, if it was a woman in smart clothes carrying a tablet PC & coffee cup w/o the Shhh, people would mistake it for a teacher or a techie… (both of which librarians are, anyway…)

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  9. I loved Lego as a kid, but back then the only face options were “smiling man” and “smiling pirate with eyepatch.” We’ve come a long way.

    Great Lego figs, anyway!

  10. Interesting. This is a fine example of what Jacques Ellul identifies as sociological propaganda.

  11. We are all stereotypes. And yet just when you thought you have seen everything and everyone is different you find out you are wrong. A male librarian. Good one.

  12. “My job is to write pointless peer-reviewed articles til I die. Which is hopefully soon.” – Bahahahahaha, Best blog post I’ve seen in a while. This totally made my week, thanks 🙂

  13. Hilarious! 😀 You should depict the librarian who has alter egos –knowledge management specialist, document /records manager, etc. I am/have been both + in former life/years, a librarian.

    Lego identities have been great to expose our psyches and work!

    For other professions: accountants get tired of being portrayed as numbers dweebs, etc.

  14. Love it! My dad is a librarian; he’s the “button up and khakis” one for sure. Except when he’s the “no coffee?!?!” one ~_^

  15. This is brilliant! As a librarian, I have come in contact with every one of these types and can claim a few for myself. Despite my own buttoned-up appearance, my favorite co-workers are the those with the pink hair . . .funny how that works out. . . Seriously, want to collect all of these.

  16. Hahaha! Seems as though in Legoland as long as you possess the standard issue SHHHHH! mug, you’re a librarian! Do they bestow those upon you when you graduate library school?

  17. Pingback: Reblog: Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians | wadingthroughbooks

  18. Love this! Lego rocks! And so do libraries and librarians. Interesting what you said about how it’s interesting to see how librarians were portrayed, I used to work as a nurse and always found it interesting how we were either angels or ‘naughty’.

  19. Pingback: Which Lego Librarian are you? | Allegany County Library System Director's Notes

  20. Dude, that is so freakin cute! Do you portray yourself as one of them? I think it’s great how you are so open-minded to these many perceptions of a librarian… You are really not the average librarian! Plus that Sssshhh thing is so stereotyped………. 😀

  21. How about the awkwardly introverted Research Librarian who decides to jump right into an Elementary School Library?

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  23. Heh. I often have my hair up in a bun, secured with hairsticks. The kids love it, and at least five of them have drawn me with my bun. You need one holding a comic book, though … ^_^

  24. i love lego and all their versions, from a soldier, starwars, brides to librarians. that’s so creative. are they, the librarian versions, still in stores? great post!

  25. I am most definitely an amalgamation of many of these images, which just goes to prove that you can’t quite typecast “a librarian”. BTW, I linked to this story from the Librarian Images page in the Librarian Resources section of my site.

  26. Pingback: Image, Public Perception, and Lego Librarians | Adventures of a Blonde Librarian

  27. I can quote from Buffy. I actually read the books I recommend. I desperately want to retire. I’m grossly underpaid for my skill set and education. Yes! I am a librarian.

  28. OMG love all of these . i just graduated from library school and i lgot a huge laugh at all of these. can i add all the figurenes to my wishlist

  29. Pingback: Notes on Lego Librarians & Shout-Out to Children’s Librarians | Mr. Library Dude

  30. I qualify for 2 of these – I’m the one in the chicken suit that all the older librarians hate for my enthusiasm! This was sooooo funny – and scary, I recognised many colleagues in this!

  31. Reblogged this on Impybat's Emporium and commented:
    As one who is in the process of applying to a School Library Media Studies grad program, I approve 🙂 I also love quality time with my cats.
    I’m not trying to be cliche, it just sort of happened…

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  35. Reblogged this on Crafty Wife and commented:
    I have a massive love of all things lego, so when I saw this Freshly Pressed post I just had to reblog it for you

  36. This is awesome! Librarians need more attention! I also need to show these to my kid to see if she can get into the fun of changing up all the people in such a creative way. Right now she just likes the lego friends set.

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  39. The librarian with a whip will be my avatar for my fantasy football league this year, for sure! Not sure how to do one for my job – database management (you know, I’m the one adding/updating authority files w/death dates!) but these are bloody brilliant! Huzzah for the Parker Posey reference, too!

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  44. HI, I’m a librarian in the UK (at Kingston Uni, near London, and my colleagues and I love the lego librarians! I think I’d be the one smiling and hating everyone on a bad day! We wondered if we could use some of the characters in our teaching sessions (obviously with acknowledgements to your brilliance in creating them :))

  45. Pingback: The Lego Librarian in action « Reel Librarians

  46. Found this from a link in the latest Australian Library and Information Association newsletter. Why didn’t I know about this brilliant site earlier? I love the Buffy librarian – and yes it looks just like me.
    With permission this will now become my profile picture 🙂

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  48. Brilliant! Just love the Lego Librarians! My daughter (11) searched and squeezed many a mini figures package to find one for my birthday. She is proudly displayed on my desk and is my profile pic on FB! I’m inspired now to change her look!

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  53. Hat dies auf Solvey Viorsdottir rebloggt und kommentierte:
    und hier noch einer… als Lego-Fan überlege ich jetzt ob ich mir diese Bibliothekarin vielleicht zulegen sollte 😀

  54. Hello ! 🙂
    I’m a French librarian and have a blog about… well, books, reading, etc !
    As I’m writing a short blog post about books & Legos, I just found your blog post (thks Google !).
    And I love it ! Ah ah, that’s exactly THIS ! (in France too, same public perception about librarians *sigh*, I even published a blog post about it).
    So, just to tell : great post, and I’m gonna link it in my post about Legos 🙂
    And thank you, I didn’t get the reference for Oranges & Peaches before reading your post (this minifig found a place at home, I love my job, can’t help it ^^”)
    PS please be kind about my not-so-good English ^^”

  55. If I could I would clip in the photo of me doing storytime with a chicken hat on…sometimes it’s not a whole chicken suit…just a hat…on a bald head…resembling an egg…doing storytime

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  58. I’m a little frightened you know my coworkers so well. Have we met?

    (Incidentally, none of the kids ever get my Buffy references either. They’re all too busy watching Glee on their newfangled technologies while nearly running into the checkout desk. Seriously considering putting up a small obstacle to see if they trip.)

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  61. I remember in my first Library class in college we were talking about stereotypes. Sadly, in the end, we were all the same. Hair up in a messy bun, glasses, cats waiting for us at home and introverts. Go figure.

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