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The “liberated librarian” is a modern storytelling trope which can be applied to both men and women. If the character in question is a woman, she starts as naïve/repressed but discovers her sense of self either with the help of a man, or in the face of adventure and adversity. According to Reel Librarians, this character’s evolution is also illustrated through a change in wardrobe (away from conservative and restrictive clothing) and physical appearance (becoming more attractive). If the character is a man, he is often seen as a failure in the beginning of the story, who resorted to the profession for lack of other options. He eventually faces an outside attack or force to spur on liberation from his rut. For both sexes, the character is often young, though sometimes middle-aged, and often leave the profession at the end of the story, thanks to their newfound liberation.
Off the screen, the liberated librarian represents a concerted effort to break from the cultural stereotypes; away from the image of the shushing, cardigan-wearing, tight-laced librarian to a more realistic view of the profession. This movement saw a boost in the early 2000s as the number of library jobs increased, but new entrants to the field remained constant. A more dynamic and engaging representation of librarians and libraries was not only a more accurate view of the modern landscape but would help encourage more interest in the industry.
The liberated librarian can also refer to a movement beginning in the 1970s to deconstruct the gendered stereotypes that can be associated with the profession and the general imbalance of gender along the library’s leadership spectrum. Such efforts became more formalized in 1970 with the creation of the American Library Association’s Feminist Task Force.
“Character Types.” Reel Librarians, May 4, 2019. https://reel-librarians.com/rolecall/charactertypes/#liberatedlibrarian.
Ilett, Rosie. "Different for Girls? Feminism, Health Information and Librarianship." Health Information and Libraries Journal 19, no. 1 (2002): 33-41.
Marvel, Bill. "Librarians are getting liberated - Not staid, they want to be free of stereotype." Seattle Times, The (WA), June 16, 2002: J1. NewsBank: Access World News. https://infoweb-newsbank-com.libezproxy2.syr.edu/apps/news/document-view....