This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

October 15, 2003 - librarian action figure

I am very proud -- smug, even -- to report that I am the very first person in the whole state of Colorado to own the soon-to-be-famous "Librarian Action Figure." I got it on Monday, Sept. 28, two days before its general release.

Even better, I got it, autographed, from Nancy Pearl herself, the Seattle librarian upon whom the action figure was modeled.

It's a beaut. I'm especially taken with its "amazing push-button shushing action plus BONUS Trading Card and Bookmark."

Now, this might surprise you, but it turns out that some librarians are deeply incensed about this bemusing new icon of American librarianship.

Why? Because they fear that the blue-suited, bespectacled plastic figure, action finger to smiling action lips, perpetuates an outmoded stereotype.

I couldn't disagree more. For one thing, it clearly states that at least one librarian has a sense of humor -- perhaps the most potent and vital tool for survival in the modern age.

For another, Ms. Pearl is something of an action figure herself. Not only is she an avid bicyclist, she is author of a recent paperback entitled, "Book Lust." Director of Library Programming and the Center for the Book at Seattle Public Library, Pearl is the one who first came up with the widely imitated idea she called, "If all Seattle read the same book."

Even the packaging of this prime collectible is crammed with interesting information. You'll find a brief history of libraries, stretching from 2000 BCE to today (when there are 400,000 librarians operating over 124,000 libraries).

Again in the best tradition of the field, the packaging asks, "Want to find a library near you?" See Yahoo's online directory for public libraries.

"Want to find a book club near you?" bookclubpartner.com

There's also a list of some of the famous librarians in history: Casanova, Ben Franklin, Pope Pius XI, Mao Tse-tung, J. Edgar Hoover, Jorge Luis Borges, and even Batgirl (better known to us comic book aficionados as her latest incarnation: Oracle). That's quite a spread of philosophies and personalities, underscoring the uncommon breadth of the profession.

In short, the Librarian Action Figure is an absolutely charming product with a great back story.

And you know what? If it makes people smile, that's fine with me. They may buy it on a whim, as a lark, or for a laugh.

But I'm confident that the longer they have it, the more they'll come to appreciate just how cool librarians can be.

As Nancy Pearl put it, "The role of the librarian is to make sense of the world of information. If that's not a qualification for superhero-dom, what is?"

(The Librarian Action Figure is available from www.accoutrements.com, and all the better stores everywhere.)

No comments:

Post a Comment