On Mischaracterizing Archivists, or How I Got a Martha Stewart Haircut

I treated myself to a trip to a chic salon. It was fun watching my stylist, a glam punk with a stage name and a following, wield his scissors and figure out the best shapes and angles for my hair. I gave him free reign as an artist to do as he wished, as long as the style would keep my hair out of the myriad of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I make on a daily basis.

He wanted to get a feel for me and my personality, so we chatted about what I do and what I used to do. After finding out we’d frequented the same haunts (albeit YEARS apart, which in NYC years translates to lifetimes), we settled into a brief conversation about me so he could decide on THE style. Here’s how it ended:

This was soooo not my library school experience.

Glam Punk Stylist: Oh my God! You went to library school?! I was just watching Party Girl last night! I love that film.

Me: Yeah. It’s a good one, but I can’t really say that it reflects the…

GPS: Parker Posey is amazing. She has such style.

Me: She’s great.

GPS: I follow a few librarians on Instagram and Tumblr. I love the one with librarians and tattoos. Being around all those books makes you so cultured and aware.

Me: I guess. Any archivists on there?

GPS: Hmmm?? [Stops playing with my hair]

Me: I used to be an archivist.

GPS: [Gives me a confused, tilted head look]

Me: I was an archivist. It’s not a librarian. I went to library school and took the same classes. But it’s totally different. [No. Don’t do it. Abort! Abort! Change lanes!!]

GPS: I’ve never heard of that.

Me: We do much of the same things. Like, remember when Mary was organizing her boyfriend’s records? Archivists do that — a lot of that, except not just books or records. Like, we think in terms of long-term value, not just short-term interest, or active use. And the things we organize and shelve aren’t out in the public. [At this point I mentally kick myself because I’ve probably reduced the archivist to an entitled, glorified shelver in the eyes of a layman.]

Records: Dewey Decimal decimated edition

GPS: Archivists are different?

Me: Yes. Every institution is different, but archivists tend to be behind the scenes, especially if its a corporate job. [Oh… No… This is going to be bad.]

GPS: So like a records Martha Stewart?

Me: Kinda. We do a lot of organizing. [Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! Now I’ve done it. Kicks self harder.]

GPS: Ohhh… I get it. [He thinks for a bit] I want to try something different. Something I haven’t done before. Okay?

Me: Yes! Yay!

In the end, I got a very modest, very respectable shoulder-length bob with a slightly asymmetrical sweepy bang thing. A very corporate, a very housewife, a very “something a Glam Punk Stylist would never do” ‘do.

See my little avatar picture? That. He gave me that. He gave me Martha Stewart hair.

Never ever tell a hairstylist that archivists are like Martha Stewart and give him/her free reign on your head. You’ll end up looking like this.



One thought on “On Mischaracterizing Archivists, or How I Got a Martha Stewart Haircut

  1. Funniest post I’ve read all year. I’ve been warned…
    (And you may notice that I don’t even use the “A” word in the bio on my blog. I stick with the “L” word in so many situations. [Hangs head in shame.])


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