The Top 10 Misconceptions about Libraries and Librarians

By UNH Library

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word librarian? For many, it’s an image of a woman with £6 glasses and a bun in her hair, sitting at a desk and shushing people who make noise. However, that is just a stereotype. To help overcome some common stereotypes here are the “Top Ten Misconceptions about Libraries and Librarians”.

Perception #1:

Everyone who works in a library is a librarian.

Reality: Libraries have employees with different job titles and education requirements.


Perception #2: Anyone with a bachelor’s degree can work as a librarian.

Reality: All Librarians have to complete a graduate program in Library Science; some even have multiple masters degrees or even a PhD.


Perception #3: 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.


Perception #4: All Librarians are older women that wear glasses, cardigans, and buns in their hair.

Reality: Librarians can be any nationality, race, age or gender. You can’t always tell who is a librarian by what they look like.


Perception #5: All Libraries are the same.

Reality: Libraries exist to help different populations and therefore have purchase different resources to help their users. This is why most public libraries may not have books or databases that can help an Engineering, Criminal Justice/ Forensic Science or Psychology student complete research for their courses.


Perception #6: All Librarians have the same job duties.

Reality: All Librarians work with information, but the ways they do depend on where they work and their job description. Some focus on teaching people about research, on purchasing resources, analyzing and summarizing data, managing the library, working with library technology or making sure that all the books have been entered in the online catalog so you can find them there.


Perception #7: 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 and most of what you find through a Google search is available for free. Libraries and Librarians help you access and use resources you might otherwise not be able to afford.


Perception #8: 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. They can be found in such diverse industries as biotechnology, software development, data management, advertising and marketing, publishing, museums, archives, government, or nonprofit companies such as the American Red Cross.


Perception #9: Librarians don’t understand or work with technology.

Reality: All Librarians work with technology, but the types of technology they work with depends on their job descriptions, specialization and place of employment.


Perception #10: Libraries are quiet places.

Reality: This depends on the library you are in, and the time of year or day/night you are there. While most libraries have designated quiet work spaces, they also have computers/printers, group study spaces and cafés to provide spaces for working with others. As you can imagine, it can get pretty noisy.