For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
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
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
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.)