Personality Profiles and Librarians–Still of Interest to Many…11.19.08

18 11 2008

I don’t spend much time looking at my blog stats, however, I noticed today after looking a little closer that it is extremely interesting that the post that has received the most views since I began this blog is the one [] about the results of my DISC personality profile which was required for my current position as a special librarian for an international non-profit organization.  Since this is the case, I thought I would revisit personality profiles and librarianship. We’ll see IF the interest continues.

Although not specifically about DiSC® testing [], a cursory search pulled up the following interesting results from a section of Allison Ogdon’s 2002 project “Recataloging Librarians” titles “What Librarians Are Really Like” [] which I find interesting and other may as well:

“…Two recent studies of librarians and library students, which used the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, revealed similar percentages of librarianship’s dominant personality types (24, 1).  The two personality types most frequently found were ISTJ (17% and 33%) and INTJ (12% and 16%). 

The ISTJ personality type is often described as orderly, responsible, logical, quiet, and thorough (1).  INTJs are described as having original minds, and as being skeptical, critical, independent, and driven (1). 

One of the studies also found that different types of library specializations attracted different personalities.  For example, technical services attracted more introverted personalities than did administration (24).

Another recent survey (25) that asked librarians whether they enjoyed their profession and why they decided to become librarians reveals other details about librarians’ personalities. 82% of respondents stated they were attracted to the intellectual challenges of library and information work.  95% of respondents stated they wanted to work in a service-oriented profession.  But did they like their jobs?  83.6% stated they would “definitely” or “probably” choose librarianship again.

 So what is a realistic librarian image?  Library and information work is definitely more than shelving books.  It’s challenging, intellectual, important, and, according to librarians, rewarding (25). 

Neither does the traditional stereotype of the librarian often apply to real librarians.  Although personality studies do indicate that certain types of people are attracted to librarianship, including some quiet and meticulous types, even quiet librarians don’t go around shushing people every five minutes!  More importantly, according to personality studies (1, 24) the two dominant types of librarian personalities make up only 29-49% of librarians.  The majority of librarians therefore don’t fall into these two types, demonstrating that library and information work attracts a variety of different types of people.

Ultimately, librarians, like most books, can be neither completely analyzed nor perfectly catalogued.” 

Although old, below are some other related links to check out from The Library Mistress [].  Of course, in many ways librarianship has radically changed requiring new data.

  • David P. Fisher: “Is the librarian a distinct personality type?”. In: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 20 (1988) 1, S. 36 – 47
  • Jeanine Williamson: “Jungian/Myers-Briggs personality types of librarians in films”. In: The Reference Librarian 78 (2002), S. 47 – 59
  • Mary Jane Scherdin: “Vive la Difference: Exploring Librarian Personality Types Using the MBTI“. In: Mary Jane Scherdin (Hrsg.): Discovering Librarians: Profiles of a Profession. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries 1994
  • Michael Afolabi: “Holland’s typological theory and its implications for librarianship and libraries“. In: Librarian Career Development 4 (1996) 3, S. 15 – 21
  • Michael Afolabi: “A study of the personality characteristics of library science students in one Nigerian university”. In: International Librarian 2 (1986) 1, S. 1 – 8
  • Michael Afolabi: “The application of Holland’s theory to the personality types of library science students”. In: Library Scientist 11 (1984), S. 1 – 23
  • Sophie Sabatier / Charles Oppenheim: “The ILS professional in the City of London. Personality and glass ceiling issues“. In: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 33 (2001) 3, S. 145 – 156
  • Mary Jane Scherdin / Anne Beaubien: “Shattering Our Stereotype: Librarians’ New Image“. In: Library Journal 12 (1995), S. 35 – 38
  • Anne McMahon: The Personality of the Librarian: Prevalent Social Values and Attitudes Towards the Profession. Adelaide: Libraries Board of South Australia 1967
  • Anne Goulding / Beth Bromham / Stuart Hannabuss / Duncan Cramer: “Professional Characters: The Personality of the Future Information Workforce“. In: Education for Information 18 (2000), S. 7 – 32
  • John Agada: “Profiling Librarians with the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: Studies in Self Selection and Type Stability”. In: Education for Information 16 (1998), S. 57 – 69
  • Indra Mary David: A study of the occupational interests and personality types of librarians. Wayne State University, PhD, 1990
  • Alan Johns: Survey of Librarians Using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (Form G Self-Scorable). Report 1990
  • R.R. Douglass: The Personality of the Librarian. Chicago: University of Chicago 1957
  • H. Clayton: An Investigation of Personality Characteristics Among Library School Students at one midwestern University. Washington: United States Department of Health Education and Welfare 1968
    Update 25.7.2007: Karen Woodworth-Roman: “Personality Type in the School Library“.

UPDATE POST: Lone Wolf Librarian and the Briggs-Myers Personality Profile Test Results 03.08.09




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