The Laughing Librarian: A History of American Library Humor [Paperback]
Jeanette C. Smith (Author)
Publication Date: May 2, 2012 | ISBN-10: 0786464526 | ISBN-13: 978-0786464524
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.
Smith’s new book, The Laughing Librarian, should be required reading for all librarians and library-school students. She deftly covers the history of library humor from the early 1800s to the present, giving numerous examples: patron blunders, library stereotypes, superheroes, parodies, technology, and fear of libraries. The illustrations of mangled book titles, “shhh”-ing stereotypes, and “Sex: See librarian” jokes will remind librarians of funny stories that occurred in their own careers. There are chapters covering the work and writings of the three great library humorists: Edmund Lester Person, Norman D. Stevens, and Will Manley. The library humor in MAD magazine and the New Yorker is also discussed. The stories and cartoons in this volume will keep librarians laughing and remind them that libraries can sometimes be very funny. A must-buy for all libraries. –Merle Jacob
About the Author
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.