Stacked: The Single Librarian’s Search for Love

Michelle Anne Schingler, a former librarian and Hebrew school teacher, is the managing editor at Foreword Reviews. Her days are books, books, books; she knows how lucky that makes her.  Twitter: @mschingler

Vestiges of the sexy-librarian trope persist.  When I accepted a job with the local library system, friends reminded me, half teasingly, half with encouragement, that it’s a position that still fulfills a certain classical fantasy.

My jeweled cat-eye glasses and extensive cardigan collection don’t help to dispel the notion that I’m one Van Halen guitar riff away from a tryst in the stacks, and damned if I can’t toss my hair and shush patrons with the best of them. The right selection brought to the desk, my eyes meeting his over the spine of a novel, and maybe I would climb onto the nearest rolling ladder and sail toward destiny. Pour some sugar on me, or something.

Realistically, though, the job is less than romantic. We spend more time wiping down inexplicably sticky copies of James Patterson books than we do finding kindred spirits amongst the classics, and I’m unlikely to go ga-ga over patrons who need help signing into a mystery e-mail account yet again. (“What’s my address?” How would I know that, sir?)

But in the down-time, when you’re resting on your elbows over the counter and waiting for the next patron to approach, you do entertain those glossy possibilities. Just a little. Curt Smith hasn’t walked into our branch loaded down with books and angst yet, but it could happen.

Potentials should know, though, that we single librarians have our own set of expectations. For instance: size absolutely matters. If I’m looking, I’m looking for a man with an enormous…lexicon. My ideal boasts an enormous library, and he’s got enough literary experience that he doesn’t need directions once he gets in my stacks.

Bluntly speaking, I’m just not interested in any old bloke, particularly the types who brag about marathon manga reading sessions, as though that’s the kind of stamina that matters. Substance or bust. I’ll absolutely judge what you bring to the desk by its cover; a picture of a submarine, or the aggressive typefaces reserved for Brad Thor and the like, and my engine just won’t be revved.  Your shelves should groan beneath the weight of meaty volumes, or you probably need not apply.

I’m willing to entertain the stereotype, I suppose, as long as it’s done on my own terms. Maybe we’re saddled with “repressed” out of awareness that we spend our days curating a thousand different stories, many of which you can’t help but want to test, ranging from Anne McCaffrey’s dragon-back heroines to Kafka’s species-bending to the sultry lines of Whitman. A librarian’s imagination is always expanding, and in what potential relationship is that not a good thing?

But a bibliophile craves a sympathetic soul, and any dude off the street who grew up on erotic suggestions from cheesy music videos just isn’t going to cut it. If I’m going to spend a Saturday morning with someone, I want the soundtrack to include the susurrations of crisp pages. I need someone in whose ears I can murmur the great line I just read, who understands that sharing titles is its own particular kind of intimacy. If you’ve never applied “lust” to a TBR stack, I’m not sure I believe we’re fated.

“Single librarian” may be the thing to be. But, prurient patrons, know this:  if you don’t come to our desks with the readerly goods to back up those winks, your card probably isn’t getting stamped.



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