Poetry Wednesday: For Librarians

There are a remarkable number of poems praising libraries and librarians, and while this is as it should be, I can’t help but notice that most of these are idealized versions of how libraries used to be and librarians never really were. And several are just a tad . . . precious for my personal taste.

Not that I’m knocking the support—if memories of date stamps and hair-bunned spinsters will get those tax levies passed, I’ll hand out calligraphied copies on ink-stained catalog cards and throw in a free pair of nostalgia-colored glasses.

But in these times of economic, social, political, and technological uncertainty, when vocal Haves appear to assume—hell, flat-out announce—that everything worth knowing is on the Internet now, so libraries have become cemeteries for useless information and since everyone—except the Have Not crowd, who clearly don’t count—has equal, easy access to Internet resources anyway,  it would be far more cost-effective to replace out-of touch librarians with Google . . .

Sorry, gimme a minute . . .


In these troubled times, it’s both victory and vindication to find positive poems that show an understanding of libraries and librarians the way they are right now.

Like this one, by Hans Ostrom (full text is here):

Either Mr. Ostrom is a former librarian, or he spends a lot of time in their natural habitat—many fine poets do.

Ruth Moose, speaking of fine poets, is a former librarian and I very much wanted to share a poem or five from her collection The Librarian and Other Poems, which is a life laid bare in beautifully plain-spoken verse

While a few of these poems would be just as powerful if Ms. Moose had written about a teacher or a pet store owner or a garbage collector, most of them are what they are because the central character is the kind of person who chooses to become a librarian, “black and white \ print among the pages, \ naked between the lines.”**

Unfortunately, I left it a bit too late* to receive permission to reproduce her work in this post, but two of my favorites are here and this article shares another one.

Please do take the time to follow the links—the Librarian is our kind of people.

And finally, the talented Jon Goode, performing “The Librarian,” which takes a stereotype and makes it an incredibly powerful and empowering statement:


I feel better.


*”What do you mean next week is National Library Week?! It’s Friday!!”

** “The Librarian Stops by the Flower Shop,” The Librarian and Other Poems (Moose, 2009)



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