Found via an email discussion, "The Anti-Stereotype Stereotype" over at Blisspix is an interesting post from 2003 that is probably just as valid today. Fiona makes some good points, and ones I must admit I'm guilty of violating sometimes... It is about the values, skills and abilities of librarians, regardless of what we look like or what we do in our spare time - but I believe strongly that our visual impression also has an impact on our patrons.
I hate to say it - and it's why I keep this site going - but the trend continues that when a student walks up to a reference desk to ask about something related to the computer (even if it's just for help with Google), chances are they're going to approach the more "hip" of the librarians behind the desk, regardless of skill set. I see it in my campus library, I see it when I'm in my public library after work, and family and friends report it happening in their libraries.
I'm absolutely not saying my mom (the sysadmin for her library - hi, Mom!) should run out, dye her hair purple, and get a nose stud so the students will talk to her more. But I am saying I still see the stereotypical effects out there. I think if we swing too far the other way - towards the anti-stereotype stereotype - we'll be in exactly the same situation. But if we can keep convincing people that we do know what we're talking about, whether we've got a grey bun or a green mohawk, then we'll be on the right track.
I think we're on that track, and going in the right direction. Let's keep it up.