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It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a…librarian?

September 30, 2003

Move over, Sigmund Freud and Rosie the Riveter. The Seattle-based novelty store Archie McPhee is introducing a new action figure this month: the Librarian Action Figure, modeled on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. The toy has sparked a heated debate among librarians across the country:

At the heart of the debate is the question of whether the action figure elevates librarians to superhero status, or does its "push-button shushing action" simply promote outdated stereotypes.
September 30, 2003

Move over, Sigmund Freud and Rosie the Riveter. The Seattle-based novelty store Archie McPhee is introducing a new action figure this month: the Librarian Action Figure, modeled on Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. The toy has sparked a heated debate among librarians across the country:

At the heart of the debate is the question of whether the action figure elevates librarians to superhero status, or does its "push-button shushing action" simply promote outdated stereotypes.

Lori Buchanan, an instructional services librarian at Austin Peay, appreciates the tongue-in-cheek humor of the doll.

“I think the Librarian Action Figure is terrific, and I really don't have a problem with the tongue-in-cheek humor of the stereotypical librarian ‘shushing' people to be quiet,” she says. “Every profession is stereotyped in one way or another.”

Mark Pahlow, owner of Accoutrements (the parent company of Archie McPhee), has said that his company specializes in creating action figures based on historical characters and “people in unusual or under-appreciated jobs.”

So, do librarians deserve superhero status?

Buchanan says, “Most people seem to appreciate the knowledge that librarians willingly share with others when it comes to finding information. I am finding that people recognize the technological skills librarians have had to master in the last decade in order to provide good service.

“To the end that we work hard to connect people with the information they need and help them ‘make sense of it,' as Nancy Pearl says. "Yes, I think librarians qualify for superhero-dom.”
Rebecca Mackey