Yesterday we made this offer on our Facebook page: guess the number of fashion-forward people I can photograph at the world’s largest (& most dynamic) library conference this week in New Orleans and win the item of your choice from our site. Two of my librarian friends were the first to respond. One friend guessed eight, but later revised her answer to 40 when she realized this was a national effort rather than statewide. The other guessed 23. (Really, you guys? That’s all you think I’ll find?)

Truthfully, we aren’t known (even among ourselves) for dressing for success. That’s not what I say—it’s what we say about ourselves. One of the funniest, wittiest examples of this is from A Librarian’s Guide to Etiquette, a blog that calls itself the number one, most-trusted source for authoritative tongue-in-cheek librarian etiquette tips on the Internet: “A polite librarian should resist any attempts at glamour or fashion and refrain from wearing meat dresses at the reference desk. A cardigan covered with Greek yogurt and cat hair is adequately fashionable.”  (I don’t care who you are. That’s hilarious.)

The meat dress is a reference to Lady Gaga, who recently professed to be a librarian of glam culture. (Here’s a funny retort about that.) Well, if she can claim some of our territory, why can’t we claim some of hers? Borrowing an idea suggested by one of our readers and friends, we plan to find America’s Most Glamorous Librarian.

We’re calling on librarians (and patrons) everywhere to nominate their most fashion-forward librarian. (Yes, you can nominate yourself!) Send us (or link to) a photo of your nominee, along with a few sentences about what makes them great. We’ll combine your nominees with all the candidates we find at ALA’s 2011 conference in New Orleans and let our Facebook followers choose the winner. The deadline for nominations is July 30, but please don’t delay. We’ll be adding your candidates (and ours) daily starting July 1.

So really, there are two ways to play:

1) Guess the number of fashion-forward librarians I can photograph in three days at the ALA conference and comment here or on our Facebook page. We’ll select a winner July 1.

2) Nominate your library’s candidate for America’s Most Glamorous Librarian. Share your nominees by commenting with a link to your photo/post, e-mailing us @, or simply posting your photo/post on our Facebook page. This competition ends July 30.

A note to my fellow librarians: Lest you think we’re totally shallow people, let me say this: I know there are more important things than the outer man or woman. But the great Hollywood stylist Edith Head once said, “Life is competitive. Clothes gird us for the competition.” (More clever sayings from this unsurpassed raconteur in and adaptation of her 1959 classic, The Dress Doctor. The first edition is collectible!) Here’s what I think: the people we serve translate what we wear to what we’re worth and what our mission is. If kids (and grownups) are going to be fabulous critical thinkers and readers, we must not give them the idea that being smart means being dull–if that makes any sense. Librarians are the smartest, liveliest, most socially-conscious people I know. Would it hurt if we showed a little pride in our appearance? And sure, we don’t make a lot of money, but we can afford to look our best. Remember? We were thrift shoppers before it was cool.