Wednesday, 27 August 2014

10 Misconceptions about Libraries

Courtesy of a few articles floating in cyberspace I have put together 10 of the most common misconceptions about libraries/librarians:

Misconception No. 1: Librarians read or shelve books all day.
Reality: Librarians work with finding, reviewing, evaluating and applying information to solve particular problems; this includes activities that focus on organizing it or working with people to find and use it.

Misconception No.2: Libraries are quiet spaces--all the time, everywhere
Reality: While there are many libraries that offer quiet areas for their patrons to study, read, and contemplate, the era of strict shushing by librarians is pretty much over.

Misconception No. 3: A Library is an exclusive club and no one is welcome
Reality: Public libraries in particular are very welcoming, yes even to people you may not like or find distasteful.

Misconception No.4: All Libraries are Public Libraries
Reality: There are a wide variety of Libraries and combinations thereof. I, work in an academic and special library, it is a library for a college that teaches in specialised subject areas.

Misconception No. 5: All Librarians work in Libraries.
Reality: People with a Masters in Library Science work anywhere where information is needed, although their job title may not include the word librarian.
My husband (who works for a large online store) remarked how useful it would be to have a librarian sort out all of there information needs, that way he could get on with the actual programming instead of tearing his hair out trying to figure out how the information should be organised. It is a tough job people!

Misconception No. 6: You don’t need libraries or librarians, since everything is available for free online.
Reality: Every publication (book, magazine, journal etc.) is not available digitally although most of what you find through a Google search is available for free, there is also a wealth of knowledge that isn't.Check out Chicago Tribute's article Google can't compete with a skilled librarian steeped in information technology

Misconception No. 7: Libraries are about books--and that's it
Reality: Libraries offer so much more than books. Libraries are all about connecting people with information, even when that information lies in the expertise of an artist/maker/craftsperson rather than a book.

Misconception No. 8: Libraries are boring
Reality: Behind many of these other misconceptions, there lurks a single, pervasive complaint: "Libraries are just so... boring." On this, we couldn't disagree more! Libraries are subversive; we champion banned books and challenging ideas. Libraries are vibrant; we bring members of the community together. Above all, libraries are a gateway to information, where YOU can connect to YOUR interests. For example in New Scientist; Books out, 3D printers in for reinvented US libraries

Misconception No. 9: Librarians are all bespectacled, cardigan wearing, hair in a bun, older caucasian women.
Reality: Librarians can be any nationality, race, age or gender. You can’t always tell who is a librarian by what they look like. As for dressing in wool and layers it is practical and smart, as is keeping your hair out of your face when you might have to crawl under a desk to fuss with a computer. Sixty-four percent of Americans wear eyeglasses, that number jumps to 90% after age 49. We’re not absurdly myopic from all that reading, we’re normal.

Misconception No. 10: Libraries are a thing of the past
Reality: Just because Libraries preserve the past does not mean it is a thing of the past. Apart from wisdom being derived from learning from the past, Libraries are becoming spaces for innovation and creativity. See Misconception No. 8.

- Gabby

The Top 10 Misconceptions about Libraries and Librarians From The Charger Bulletin
7 Big Myths About Libraries From Huffington Post 

How not to write about libraries – some guidelines for reporters From


  1. Hi Gaby thanks for such a great blog, I was nodding my head with every point. I am currently studying to gain qualifications to possibly one day work in a library. Half the people I tell think it's great the other half ask my "aren't libraries on the way out?". They most certainly are not and you've reinforced some of the reasons I've been thinking of this industry on and off for the past 20 years. It has been interesting to learn of the different types of libraries and the work done in them, the innovations and just what actually goes on inside a library and the fact that we need them more than ever.

    My local library and its branches offer such a wide range of things to all facets of the community and it has been a joy to introduce my children to the joy of picking out books to borrow. As for the future, the innovations that will be introduced over the next 10 years are mind boggling and I feel certain that is an environment that I would like to begin the second phase of my career in.

    I'm going to bookmark this post so that I can remind myself of why I'm doing this when I feel overwhelmed by studying as an almost 40 year old who hasn't done this kind of thing for over 20 years!
    Regards, Jackie W

  2. Hi Linda, it is so good to hear that you are braving the world of information! It sounds like you are very passionate about libraries, we need more people with that kind of enthusiasm. We would love to hear more from you and get to know you better. If you are in Sydney it would be great to see you at one of our meet ups, they are a good networking opportunity and encourage one another in our studies or work. Good luck with your studies! Just keep swimming :) Gabby