The Laughing Librarian

A History of American Library Humor

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About the Book

Despite the stodgy stereotypes, libraries and librarians themselves can be quite funny. The spectrum of library humor from sources inside and outside the profession ranges from the subtle wit of the New Yorker to the satire of Mad. This examination of American library humor over the past 200 years covers a wide range of topics and spans the continuum between light and dark, from parodies to portrayals of libraries and their staffs as objects of fear. It illuminates different types of librarians—the collector, the organization person, the keeper, the change agent—and explores stereotypes like the shushing little old lady with a bun, the male scholar-librarian, the library superhero, and the anti-stereotype of the sexy librarian. Profiles of the most prominent library humorists round out this lively study.

About the Author(s)

Jeanette C. Smith, a Fellow of the Molesworth Institute, received the first-ever Edmund Lester Pearson Library Humor Award for a cautionary essay on the hazards of reading and driving. She has been a librarian since 1973 and a collector of library humor for almost as long. She lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Bibliographic Details

Jeanette C. Smith
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: 15 illustrations, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6452-4
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9056-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Foreword by Will Manley      1

Foreword by Norman D. Stevens      3

Preface      5

Introduction      7

1. Humors and Blunders      9

2. Batgirl Was a Librarian: Library Superheroes      21

3. Librarian Types and Stereotypes: She’s a Keeper!      33

4. Library Staff: They Also Serve      46

5. Shhh! The Unforgivable Sin      58

6. Parodies: With Apologies to …      69

7. Edmund Lester Pearson: The Main Guy      81

8. Norman D. Stevens and the Molesworth Institute      94

9. Will Manley: The Bad Boy      106

10. Technology: The Internet’s a Drunk Librarian      117

11. Mad Magazine: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Library      129

12. The New Yorker: The Smart Set Just Loves to Read      140

13. The Fear Factor      152

14. For SEX, See the Librarian      165

15. Joyfully Subversive      176

Notes      191

Selected Bibliography      219

Index      221

Book Reviews & Awards

“Should be required reading for all librarians and library-school students”—Booklist; “a must have…recommend”—Library History Buff Blog; “Smith charts the largely unexplored territory of library wit and satire, both inside and outside the profession”—C&RL News; “a serious though most readable study of library-related humour…an enjoyable as well as instructive work”—Australian Library Journal; “Smith, presents a history of American library humor from the mid-nineteenth century to the end of the twentieth century that focuses on humor about libraries and librarians”—Reference & Research Book News.