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The Man Behind the Librarian: the Results of an Enquiry

Library Review

ISSN: 0024-2535

Article publication date: 1 August 1944



THERE is, of course, a man (if he isn't a woman) behind the librarian. When the librarian leaves his office or the counter, the man steps forth. What sort of creature is he? A few professions stamp themselves so deeply on their followers that they have even developed something approaching a type of physical feature. The military man, the lawyer, and the parson are the outstanding examples. The teacher is a particularly pronounced type, but not a physical type; it is in manner, way of speaking, etc., that he advertises his calling. The librarian has no outward signs. If someone says “So‐and‐so looks like a librarian,” he is probably thinking in terms of the old‐time librarian, spectacled, round‐shouldered, peering, and surrounded by an astral aura derived from the immemorial dust that time has dropped gently on his books. The modern librarian, at any rate the public librarian, has long shaken off these out‐worn signs of his craft. He might be anybody or somebody, and carries with him no smell of the midnight oil or suggestion of ancient and ponderous lore. Yet no man can live among books, work on books, think on books, and contact all sorts of people in their relation to books, without effects on his mind, his outlook, and maybe his habits. It was a good idea, therefore, of the Editor to try and discover something of the man behind the librarian, by means of that ubiquitous, if often irritating, instrument, the questionnaire. The number sent out was thirty‐one, and twenty‐two replied; far too limited an enquiry on which to found any dogmatic conclusions, but as the librarians questioned were of both sexes, of different types of libraries, town and county, large and small, it may be considered perhaps as affording a useful cross‐section of the profession in its unprofessional aspect. There were ten questions; these are given below, with a brief summary of the nature of the answers.


(1944), "The Man Behind the Librarian: the Results of an Enquiry", Library Review, Vol. 9 No. 8, pp. 218-223.




Copyright © 1944, MCB UP Limited

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