E-JASL: The Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship


Date of this Version

Spring 2008

Document Type



Electronic Journal of Academic and Special Librarianship (Spring 2008) 9(1). Also available at http://southernlibrarianship.icaap.org/content/v09n01/seale_m01.html.


Copyright 2008, the author. Used by permission.


Abstract This paper investigates the relationships between mass media representations of librarians and users’ perceptions and consequent use of librarians and libraries by asking three questions: 1. How are librarians depicted by the mass media? 2. How does the public perceive librarians and how might these views relate to mass media representations? 3. What are the potential effects of these representations and perceptions? Representations of librarians by the mass media generally fall into one of five somewhat discrete categories. Public perceptions of librarians are somewhat different; although librarians are often described in positive terms, there is nearly no awareness as to the knowledge, duties, skills, and education of librarians and, as a consequence, public perceptions draw more heavily on stereotypical representations of librarians’ personalities. Ultimately, librarians and libraries tend not to be effectively utilized, as users remain unaware of librarians’ abilities and responsibilities.