Conversation Starters: Style and Stereotypes: Perceptions of Librarians

Monday, June 25, 2012 - 2:45pm to 3:30pm
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“Not always buns and sensible shoes, librarians at various types of libraries have different styles (and dress codes). Check it out here or submit your own.” Librarian Wardrobe,, has been documenting the styles of librarians across different types of libraries, institutions, position types, and geographical locations for a year and a half (by the time of Annual). This blog has spurred discussion on stereotypes and perceptions of librarians within the field and out. In this conversation starter session, we will engage participants in talking about how librarians are perceived in the field (from networking to hiring to presenting) and outside the field (user perceptions, style and effectiveness, stereotypes shifting from buns/shushing vs tattoos/hipness). Do we have to look a certain way to be successful or for users to benefit from our expertise? What impact does style have personally and professionally? The panelists and attendees will be encouraged to share their own thoughts on these discussion points.

Moderator: Miriam Rigby Miriam Rigby is the Anthropology, Sociology, Ethnic Studies, and Clark Honors College Librarian at the University of Oregon.

- Jenny Benevento is a taxonomist currently working at Sears and Kmart, where she categorizes about 30 million items, including apparel, shoes, jewelry, beauty & the much beloved Kardashian Kollection. She was raised by two fashionable Italian men & has worked in several corporations as a librarian. You can follow her blog at and @jennybento on twitter.
- Allie Flanary is User Experience and Outreach Librarian at Portland Community College, where she user researches, references, teaches, outreaches, and star bellied sneetches—although she very nearly ended up with the job title “resident nerd”. She also teaches foundations in library services for the PCC library technician program. She tweets, blogs, and librarian wardrobes as shinylib. Currently Allie is fascinated by investigating how personal style within a professional context impacts one's perceived approachability; she's contemplating what the response might be if she began wearing tutus to the refdesk. Shoes, handbags/lunchpails, and stripey socks in all colors and lengths dominate her wardrobe.
- Dale McNeill is currently the Director of Public Library Service at Queens Library. He’s had a decision-making role in hiring librarians for more than 12 of the nearly 30 years he’s worked in public libraries.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - 3:42pm PDT
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