Publications and Research

Document Type

Book Chapter or Section

Publication Date



Images of librarians in popular culture include the traditional stereotype - of a mousy spinster who cares more for protecting books than for helping people - as well as several contrasting or binary images - such as librarians who are wild by night (although quiet by day), know-it-alls (rather than know-nothings), or high-tech (instead of old-fashioned.) In response to the anxiety provoked by the more pernicious aspects of these images, both librarians and the public may employ a variety of common unconscious defense mechanisms. This chapter examines some of those used by the public - including stereotyping, and splitting or binary thinking, themselves - as well as others - such as reaction formation and over-identification - used by librarians. By making these conscious, and substituting them with more effective coping mechanisms, librarians can improve their self-image, as well as their public image, advancing their psychological and work lives, as well as the support and use of libraries by the public.


This work was originally published in "The Psychology of Librarianship," edited by H. Stephen Wright, Lynn Gullickson Spencer, and Leanne VandeCreek.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.