Hey, what do you call a male librarian? It’s sort of a joke but sort of not and the answer is either “librarian, duh” or “guybrarian” depending if you’re a feminist, or have been reading the New York Times, or just don’t get the question. I find this sideways swipe at the femaleness of the profession ever so slightly annoying, but it’s been fun to see some people take the silly name and run with it including this episode of Shelf Check which namechecks me and this episode of Penny Arcade.

14 thoughts on “guybrarians

  1. Thanks for those two links! I love cartoons and certainly any that have anything to do with our profession.

    Its interesting to me that you would see a “sideways swipe at the femaleness of the profession.” But then again you are female in a heavily female-dominated profession, and I am not. Instead, I find that it can actually be seen as an iconoclastic term, one that turns an overused stereotype on its head.

    The more important question, for me, is – would I want to be referred to that way? Probably not, except by my co-workers. There are also too many opportunities to turn “guybrarian” into “gaybrarian,” which would once again reinforce a different stereotype.

    Either way, I think its best to roll with it, and have a good laugh, and let it go at that.

  2. I think the issue with ‘guybrarian’ is that is posits male librarians as not only somehow special, but also different to the ‘normal’ librarian. Which is unhelpful to both. Like librarian just isn’t enough for a man to be, it’s gotta be something that re-affirms his maleness and specialness.

  3. I had multiple people send me links to the Penny Arcade strip and one friend posted it in my WoW guild’s forums with a “thought of you immediately!” note. It’s rather interesting how exciting other people find my career.

    I responded by mentioning the “guybrarian” tag, but I’ve honestly never had a conversation with any men who thought it was a positive term. I guess I never thought of it as reaffirming maleness and specialness, but more like a term that treats them like they’re The Other (in a sort of Simone de Beauvoir way).

  4. I’ve been called a guybrarian by friends for several years prior to the NYT article, so I’m not terribly surprised with the portmanteau. I am a bit surprised that other librarians are. I just don’t think it’s a big deal.

    By the way, thanks for the links to the web comics.

  5. I’ve always been partial to ‘Information Stud’ myself.

  6. The LCSH has a heading for Women librarians, but not not Male librarians.]

    The closest match is Male livestock.

  7. Information Stud = Male livestock. Works for me.

    I’m just a lowly school library media specialist, i.e., not even a librarian, but we have the same issues. My favorite story in this regard is the survey we were asked to take at some county meeting. It was from a media specialist in another county as part of her master’s degree program, and it was about “professional attire.”

    It contained such questions as “How often do you wear panty hose?” and “How often do you wear a dress?”

    To which I and the other Information Studs replied, “Only on weekends and special occasions.”

    Now I’m off to change the signatures for my school email… Information Stud

  8. Thanks for the mention. If anyone’s interested, you can subcribe to or just view more Shelf Check cartoons at, including today’s follow-up to the GILF episode. (Or if it’s not too much trouble, maybe you [JW] could change the link to the cartoon at ToonDoo to this link: …that way people will be able to see more and subscribe easily if they like it).

    Thanks again. My little guybrarian character will be over the moon when I tell him he made [grin]

  9. Folks…

    This ain’t a new expression invented by a NYT writer. It’s been at least three or four years since I bought a (male) librarian friend a “guybrarian” coffee mug from Cafe Press (

    He thought it was funny and so did I.

  10. Sure, there are lots of names we go by:

    Information dude-rancher
    Manformation professional

    just to name a few…

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