Librarians protest action figure

Monday, September 8, 2003

— A new action figure of a frumpy-looking librarian who moves her index finger to her lips with "amazing push-button shushing action!" is prompting librarians around the world to raise their voices in protest.

"The shushing thing just put me right over the edge," said Diane DuBois, library director of Caribou Public Library in Caribou, Maine.

The 5-inch Librarian Action Figure, which shows a bespectacled woman in a cardigan, long plain skirt and sensible shoes, goes on sale in October for $8.95.

It is produced by Seattle kitsch retailer Archie McPhee and Co.

On Web sites and discussion groups, in phone calls and e-mails, librarians from as far as Australia have made it clear how annoyed they are with the doll and Nancy Pearl, the 58-year-old real-life librarian who posed for the action figure.

Archie McPhee owner Mark Pahlow said that his company admired librarians and that critics were missing the point.

He said librarians were heroes for everything from encouraging literacy to raising concerns about a federal anti-terrorism law that lets authorities see what books people are checking out from libraries.