Photo courtesy of Sarah G. (She rocks!)
One of my take home messages from SLA 2009 was that I might just be one of those hipster librarians. I refuse to fully accept this because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, which has a higher than average concentration of hipsters. Of course working on a university campus, and at the campus radio station, has exposed me to some really hip kids. This is why when people call me a hipster librarian I scoff. Of course I’m not a hipster compared to the kids who ride around North Oakland on fixed-gear bikes and listen to Animal Collective or Vampire Weekend. (OK, I’d ride around North Berkeley on a three-speed listening to the Black Lips or Jarvis Cocker, but let’s not quibble.)
So how did I come to the realization that I might just be one of these hipster librarians? Everybody kept calling me one! I have the glasses, the bad (DIY) haircut, the white belt, piercings, tattoos, and skinny jeans. So superficially I fit the bill. I don’t see myself as a hipster (though I suppose real hipsters never admit to being one), but looking at unflattering, candid pictures, I can see how somebody would assume I fit the bill. The problem is that the whole designation is quite superficial.
So if most people think I am a hipster librarian, what does that mean as an information professional? I don’t really know. I guess it means other hipster librarians have to act like they don’t see me, because they’re either too cool for other hipster librarians, or don’t want to be seen as flocking with other hipster librarians. (Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.) I know there were times when I’d see people who fit all the traits of the hipster librarians, but I couldn’t go talk to them because any reason would be largely aesthetic. Instead we just stared each other down in passing. (This happened on more than one occasion.)
Honestly, I’ve been trying to think how this superficial stuff will affect me professionally, if at all. Other than being easily stereotyped, which honestly, there are too many nuances to hipsterdom to do anybody justice, I don’t think it’s too bad. People who write me off for my white belt and lip ring would probably also write me off for a whole host of stupid reasons. They probably won’t listen to any of my ideas on how to integrate new ideas into the profession or how we can totally ditch the past. Instead they’ll see my tattoo and assume I’m annoying. My tattoo doesn’t make me annoying. My ideas and opinions might, but that’s also true of non-hipster librarians.
Sure, some librarians take style overboard, but as long has you have substance to back it up, you should be OK. It’s why I won’t go talk to a librarian because they look cool. That would be shallow. If they happen to be a sharp dresser and they have something interesting to say, then I’ll talk to them. I hope people would be willing to treat me the same.
And if you want to see real hipsters, don’t go to library conferences, go to Williamsburg, Portland, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, or other similar cities to see what they look like in the wild.
And if you see me at a conference, feel free to ask me about my white belt. You should always try to match your belt with your shoes. (I would prefer to talk about Jarvis Cocker, though.)