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Libraries and Society by Wendy Evans, David P. Baker

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17

Redefining the librarian

John Feather

Introduction

Without knowing Mr Larkin, what do [you] call him? … Philip he plainly is not, though Larkin is over-familiar too, suggesting a certain fellow footing. Being a librarian doesn’t help; I’ve always found them close relatives of the walking dead. (Bennett, 1982)

No doubt Alan Bennett’s tongue was firmly in his cheek when he wrote these lines – he has been and is a good friend to libraries – but his readers would have known exactly what he meant. Indeed, Larkin’s carefully cultivated public persona of being distant and brusque, as well as the superficial respectability of his life and his shabby-genteel appearance, re-enforced the stereotype. He was certainly not gregarious; he could be ...

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