“The greatest profession on earth,” according to the great Gloria Steinem
When Gloria Steinem makes, a big, bold proclamation, you better believe we’re all listening. I mean, it’s Gloria Steinem for Pete’s sake, basically everyone in the world would do well to take a page from her book.
Speaking of books, as Publisher’s Weekly reports, Steinem recently spoke at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference, in which she told a room full of librarians how insanely important she believes their jobs are.
“I think your profession is the greatest profession on earth,” she said. “I really do want to emphasize, in case you’re feeling unappreciated, how important your role is. I’m here to make you not humble. You democratize knowledge. Nothing on earth is more important.”
Hear, hear. All of us book nerds have a school or community librarian in our past that stuck books in our hands that forever shaped us as people. We talk about the inspirational English teacher, or the author that inspired us to pick up a pen, plunk our butt down in a seat, and get to work writing, but when we talk about the people who influenced our writing, our thinking, our personhood, so rarely do librarians come up. We’ve saddled the profession with some unfortunate (and sexist)stereotypes, an anal-retentive obsession with the Dewey Decimal system, constantly Shhhh-ing all who raise their voices above a whisper. We don’t celebrate librarians enough for the important work they do, making information and technology accessible to all.
Steinem got specific in her speech re: what gifts librarians had given her at a young age.
“I was rescued by librarians,” Steinem said, after explaining that her family was nomadic during her childhood, and she did not attend traditional school until she was 11 years old. “It was librarians who said ‘maybe you would like to read The Hardy Boys as well as Nancy Drew.’ It is true for me, as for so many countless others, that librarians saved my life, my internal life.”
She ended her speech acknowledging that the Internet is also a key tool when it comes to democratizing knowledge, but still advocated for the roles of libraries in our lives.
“I hope that as we democratize knowledge we also understand the importance of libraries as places where we can physically come together.”
We love how hard Steinem championed librarians in her speech, and thank one of our favorite writers and activists for reminding us to appreciate librarians for all they’ve done for us and all they continue to do for us and for our communities.
(Image via Gloria Steinem on Twitter)