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:: The stereotypical image of my profession has been reinforced with the debut of a doll wearing sensible shoes, a long, dull dress, and a cardigan sweater, and a moveable arm that “shushes” you. In July, Nancy Pearl, the librarian after whom the doll is based, advised the rest of us in the profession that how we would react to it would be based on how secure we are in our own work:

    Pearl predicts that the shushing motion, triggered by a button on the doll’s back, will determine “which librarians have a sense of humor.” She likes to believe that today’s librarians are secure enough in their work that they won’t take offense at the old cliché.

Well, there ya’ be! Count me as one of those lib’arians who thinks the doll is, well, stoopid. I guess after 25 years of shushing, I’m still insecure. I want my mommy! Perhaps the most annoying thing is the idea that if you don’t think the doll is funny, or, as Pearl puts it, “…a lovely idea and a lovely tribute to my chosen profession“, then as a librarian, you don’t have a sense of humour. What a crock of hooey.

A better model might have been the Librarian Avenger. Look it up, baby!

Ms Pearl works for Seattle Public Library, and knew she wanted to be a librarian when she was 10 years old. She is the author of Book Lust: Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment and Reason. An interview with Pearl is available here. Meanwhile, the backlash from other librarians has been fierce, and the doll isn’t even for sale until October.

But hey, judge for yourself! The manufacturer, Archie McPhee, also sells a ceramic smoking baby, Dick, The Albino Bowler, Pee Guy (really!), a pig catapult, and of course, Jesus Christ himself. What illustrious company!

Bottom line: because of the publicity regarding the doll, she’ll sell more copies of her book than she could ever imagine, and McPhee will sell more copies of the doll than it could have predicted. Good for both of them, but forgive me if I pass on buying one myself.

4 Responses to “Sshhh!”

  1. Steve40 Says:

    Christmas is coming Randy, maybe someone will surprise you with a doll. If that doll was as stereotypical of a race or cree it would be called racist or bigotted.

  2. Tami Says:

    While I agree that the Librarian Avenger might have made a better “action figure” doll this itself is another stereotype. The “alt” librarian, the sexy librarian, etc. — it is just another image. I agree with Pearl that librarians should be secure about the work that they do and the services they provide. Besides it is obvious from the Archie McPhee website that they respect the work of librarians and Pearl is a scholar in her own right. I have never seen a profession that is so concerned over image. I think everyone should get over it already! As for stereotyping, the best way to fight stereotypes is to make a mockery of them which I believe this doll does.

  3. randy Says:

    I think the doll, simply and elegantly, reinforces the dull, boring, no-sex-please-I’m-a-librarian, shushing, bookish image. Does being secure in our work mean we must chortle and chuckle about this doll? How can the best way to fight a stereotype be to prolong its image? And whyinhell must it be that if we think the doll is stoopid, then we are without a sense of humour??? When did this law come into global effect?

    As for McPhee, read what Mark Pahlow, the owner of Accoutrements, the parent company, thinks about librarians:

      “But Pahlow said he’s already received inquiries about it from librarians around the country. We’ve discovered librarians are very networked and seem to know about everything before it happens.”

    I mean, sheesh. Good grief, already. Or how about how he chose shushing over an ejectable bun:

      “No action figure can exist without action; Pahlow said talk boiled down to two options: Put the figure’s hair in a bun that could pop off, or have her right arm rise to put a finger in front of her lips in a silent shushing gesture.
      The ejectable hair bun had many technical hurdles to overcome and we thought doing two clichs was over the top,” he said. “So, we went with the shushing action. It gives the figure a certain dignity.

    A certain dignity? What am I missing here?

    BTW, no knocks on Pearl. In fact, she scares me. She’s like, the librarian’s librarian’s librarian. It appears she lives, breathes and eats librarianship 24/7. Perhaps she is the perfect model for the doll, because too many of the rest of us don’t live it 24/7, and quite obviously, have no senses of humour…

    As for McPhee respecting librarians, don’t get me started…


  4. cindi Says:

    I’m surprised that you didn’t think was funny, Randy. You’re *otherwise* such a kewl dude. 🙂 I have the photos to prove it, heh heh.

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