The 10-Minute International Librarian #85: Think of a library myth that you can debunk

Libraries have long been key institutions in communities.

While this means that we have strong name recognition, it’s not always the case that people know what we’re about. There are a lot of library myths out there.

Look up library stereotypes on the internet, and there’s plenty of material. Although of course, you have probably come across many of these yourself in your work.

While some myths are relatively harmless, others give a dangerous false impression of what we do.

They can influence decisions about libraries – from discouraging someone from visiting the library, to giving a politician the impression that there is little harm in voting against library funding.

It is therefore important to be able to identify and correct these impressions.

So for our 85th 10 Minute International Librarian exercise, think of a library myth that you can debunk!

What false ideas do you come across that shape the way that people think about where you work?

How are they wrong? Maybe they are outdated (many people’s last experience of libraries was from their student days or childhood, which may be a long time ago)? Maybe they ignore the diversity of libraries?

Think then about how you can show why they are wrong – either in words or in your actions – and how to do this in a way that will change someone’s mind, for example with humour, or by remaining positive.

Share your best examples of debunked library myths in the comments box below.

Good luck!


This idea relates to the IFLA Strategy! Key Initiative 1.1 Show the power of libraries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

As we publish more ideas, you will be able to view these using the #10MinuteInternationalLibrarian tag on this blog, and of course on IFLA’s Ideas Store! Do also share your ideas in the comments box below!

4 thoughts on “The 10-Minute International Librarian #85: Think of a library myth that you can debunk

  1. Aminu Aliyu

    I work in an academic library. We serve students..the only time they fill the library is during study for examination. The myth is the library is just meant for people to come and read and nothing more. We have a student that throught out the period of his course does not even know the road to the library.Even other staff of the institution look at the librarians as people doing nothing except guarding books.

  2. Denise Nucholson

    The myth about librarians being women with buns in their hair, wearing spectacles, and standing at desks stamping books. Every time I tell someone I’m a librarian, I have to explain what I do as they have this false stereotype of librarians.

  3. Sarat Iyabode Amuni

    Someone once described the library as a graveyard????….that’s like nobody talks in there ????

  4. Emily T


    An important myth to debunk about libraries is that they are a place of silence.

    Of course, there are quiet study areas and places to for reading or self-reflection, but libraries are also a place for collaboration and community. Groups can come together in the safe space that libraries provide to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and solve problems. Public libraries in particular are also a place for marginalized or disadvantaged people to access resources that many of us take for granted, such as the internet. Being able to use a library can help someone get back on their feet after a difficult time and meet new people to support them.

    The stereotype of librarians constantly shushing patrons, and of libraries as buildings where no one is allowed to interact, downplays the valuable role that a library plays in building human connections.

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