Over the past few decades, librarians have fought an uphill battle to change the public's perceptions of the vocation as one that is characterized by individuals who patrol the library telling patrons to be quiet or peering over a pair of bifocals from behind a reference desk. A new action figure developed by the Archie McPhee Toy company in Seattle plays on some of these popular stereotypes and features a bespectacled woman in a cardigan, long plain skirt, and sensible shoes, who moves her index finger to her lips with "amazing push-button shushing action." The model for the actual doll is Nancy Pearl, a real-life librarian in Seattle, who is the executive director of Seattle Public Library's Washington Center for the Book. Some are not so happy with the doll (which will be released in October), and Pearl has been deluged by emails and phone calls, including one unsigned email that accused Pearl of setting the profession back 30 years. Pearl does not regret posing for the doll, remarking that "It's a lovely idea and a lovely tribute to my chosen profession."
The first link leads to a recent news article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the various reactions to the upcoming librarian action figure doll. The second link, provided by the Seattle Times, talks at length about Helen Pearl and her many accolades, including the 2003 Washington Humanities Award. The third link will take visitors to an audio news story from NPR's All Things Considered where Melissa Block interviews Pearl. The fourth link leads to an opinion piece from the Purdue Exponent (authored by Matt Poston) that celebrates the new librarian action figure as a "long-overdue tribute" to librarians. The fifth link leads to the page from the Archie McPhee company where visitors can learn more about the upcoming librarian action figure. The final link leads to the Washington Center for the Book homepage, which contains information about the Center's activities, including the very popular (and often-imitated) If All of Seattle Read the Same Book program, designed to foster dialogue and discussion about a single book.