In 2014, Kyle Cassidy began exploring the role of libraries in American society through a series of portraits documenting the diversity of the library profession, an effort that he described as an effort to transcend popular stereotypes with which he had grown up. As he told Slate: “I tend to think of librarians as the ones I know from my public library and from school. But there are librarians who are researchers and archivists doing extraordinarily technical work. There are librarians who work in specialized fields who have to know about archaeology … or medicine or research science.” This is no surprise to the DePaul community, which has benefited for years from the expertise that our librarians and archivists bring to teaching, learning, and scholarship.
Earlier this month, Cassidy completed his 3-year project with the publication of This Is What a Librarian Looks Like: A Celebration of Libraries, Communities, and Access to Information (2017). In addition to essays by authors Cory Doctorow and Neil Gaiman, librarian Nancy Pearl, and others, Cassidy presents profiles of librarians from across the United States, including DePaul’s University Librarian, Scott Walter.
Walter’s contribution to Cassidy’s collection reflects a commitment to advocacy and community engagement familiar to anyone who knows DePaul: “It’s up to you to ensure you have a library. If you want your kid to have a school library; if you want your community to have a public library; if you want your university to have a library, we need you to tell the story to the people who matter.”
This is one way that a librarian looks at DePaul, but our librarians, like Cassidy’s subjects, represent diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise. What they share, however, is a commitment to the distinctive mission of our library and our university. Or, as one review has already noted, “librarian chic is huge in fashion,” but the true message underlying this collection is how librarians “are the champions of our communities.”