WILL UNWOUND #567: “Celebrate Banned Books Week with The Men of the Stacks”September 29, 2011
Been struggling with what to write for Banned Books week and so I kept procrastinating, which is one of my core competencies.
As often happens, my procrastination was productive. Yesterday an Unwinder (who prefers to be unnamed) sent me a link to a new beefcake calendar of librarian hunks in various phases of undress. I clicked on the link…Men of the Stacks…and instantly smiled. Then I chuckled. Then I laughed. Then I laughed out loud.
Here’s my take on the calendar. It has just the right ratio of skin and irony to make it something that I thought was impossible: another beefcake calendar that is not a hackneyed cliché.
The reason behind the calendar is expressly articulated with these words:
We know what people think: Dewey, glasses, shushing, books, hairbuns, Party Girl and card catalogs. Yes, we know what people think. We know that the American, library profession is approximately 80% White and 72% female; and we know that tens of thousands of librarians are expected to reach age 65 in the next 5 years. We also know that this is not us.
There is an entire population of professional librarians out there who disagree with the way the library profession is perceived in contemporary media outlets and in the historical consciousness of the American mind. Different people and different associations will use different means to try to change those perceptions. This is ours.
The Men of the Stacks project was first conceived a couple of years ago after learning of the publication of another library-themed calendar. Our first reaction to that calendar? “Well, cool but…where are all the men?” There was another, earlier calendar that featured only male librarians, but we felt it didn’t quite capture the way we saw ourselves. In both cases, either the stereotype was reinforced or it didn’t go far enough in breaking free of it.
One of our models, Von, captured the spirit of this calendar beautifully:
“We can’t just leave it to others to tell the people who we are; that’s why the stereotypes about librarians continue to flourish. We have to be the ones to go out there and tell people who we are. It’s not enough to complain about inaccurate images of librarians; we must be able to present alternative, positive images in movies, books and, yes, blogs.” — Filipino Librarian
Now, he adds, calendars should be added to the list. So, who are we? What do we want to tell you about who we are? What are these alternative images? Easy. We are, or course, professionals. We are educators, programmers, project managers, entrepreneurs, program coordinators, contractors, consultants, and speakers. We are academics. We are authors, diversity officers, historians, administrators, deans, professors, and researchers. We are creatives. We are musicians, bakers, painters, and storytellers. We are athletes, yogis, gym-rats, runners, and hikers. We are passionate. We are dog-lovers, radicals, conservatives, Christians, and Buddhists. We are in our twenties. We are in our forties. We are in relationships. We are perpetual bachelors. We are privileged beings who try to use their advantages to better the lives of others.
Who are we? We are The Men of the Stacks.
So why do I like the calendar? Simple. I like it because it is an image buster with a sense of humor.
Questions of the day:
- Who is your favorite model?
- Do you like the calendar and why or why not?
- Do you think it is appropriate to display on the bulletin board on the staff lunch room or on the bulletin board in the public area next to the reference desk?
Have fun. What better way to celebrate Banned Books Week than to ogle librarian hunks?
Oh…I almost forgot…as lead lab rat in the Unwinders Tavern (and by the way as I write this Boris is hanging the calendar up behind the bar) I’ll answer the questions first.
- I like Mr. September the best because his dog looks exactly like my old dog Hansie who chewed up my baseball glove and gave me a dog complex for life.
- Yes, I like the calendar because it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
- Both! The public should have some fun with this too.