In preparation of our upcoming event Hollywood Librarian II and to add some festive cheer, let’s discuss the representation and commodification of librarians during the Christmas holidays!
Due to low staffing, a librarian must spend her Christmas Eve stacking the shelves at a library in desperate need of renovations. After the strain of a long night that has left her feeling “like Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol,” she is pleasantly surprised to see Santa and his elves coming to her rescue in a red bookmobile. Santa helps out by signing Newbery winners and starred Caldecotts and then reads to the children. His elves, eager to help, stock the library shelves with Hawthorne, Steinbeck, Millay, and Hemingway and then replace the rugs, fix leaks and organize gifts according to the Dewey decimal system. After paying overdue library fines, Santa tells everyone, “Do one more good deed. Have a real merry Christmas–teach someone to read!”
It’s an extremely twee and whimsical look at libraries that somehow manages to address everyday library issues such as budget cuts and low staffing. While children’s books can’t be expected to explore the gritty realities of the library and information profession, it’s positive to see the importance of a library recognised by even Santa himself.
On a less positive and festive note there is always the classic scene from It’s A Wonderful Life (Dir. Frank Capra, 1946)
In this Christmas classic George discovers the tragic news that had he never been born, his wife Mary would have ended up an old maid; she would have become a librarian. The shock of this tragic news is almost too much for poor George, after all, librarianship must be some sort of punishment for those who never marry.
And Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without a little bit of commodification. In case you are stuck for ideas of gifts to please a librarian during the holidays then here are some librarian gifts. My personal favourite is the home librarian kit, perfect for those who are strict with lending their own personal books.
From librarians who are so under-staffed they rely on Santa to help them organise their collections, to lonely ‘old maid’ librarians, to librarians that can’t separate their work from their home life – Happy Holidays and see you at Hollywood Librarian II March 2010.