Librarian action figure" may sound like an oxymoron to some, but a Seattle novelty company hopes to prove the nonbelievers wrong with its latest toy release: Nancy Pearl, librarian.
"She does have an 'action,' " said David Wahl, the catalog and Web site manager for Accoutrements, the doll's manufacturer. "You cock her arm and press a button on her back and she shushes."
The inspiration for the doll, which sports a "traditional" librarian uniform of blue skirt, tightly pulled bun and half-moon spectacles, was an innocent conversation between the company's owner, Mark Pahlow, and Nancy Pearl, a librarian with the Seattle Public Library, who proposed the idea of a librarian action figure, said Wahl.
The company, which has produced a successful series of historical action figures that include Jesus, Moses and Benjamin Franklin, jumped at the idea. Nancy Pearl became the second installment in their newest line of action figures based on everyday people in everyday jobs.
"We all love librarians here," said Wahl, "Our company is based around lots of products with historical or natural themes. ... We do a lot of research to make sure we have our facts straight.
"This is one way for us to show our appreciation for all that they know," he said.
The librarian action figure, which is scheduled for release in October, will be available through www.mcphee.com, the online counterpart to the Archie McPhee novelty stores. As is her nature, she's already commanded an audience.
"My first reaction was that I thought it was great that they would recognize librarians," said Carol Brey-Casiano, the American Library Association's president-elect. "And I think it's great that someone thought enough of librarians to create a figure to honor us."
But Brey-Casiano did have one quibble. "The way the image looks doesn't really reflect the image that today's librarian wants to convey. ... A lot of librarians are no longer necessarily going to be dressed in a blue suit, hair pulled back, very severe looking. Yesterday's librarian has changed a lot."
Guess that memo didn't make it to the desks of Accoutrement and mcphee.com's management, who are predicting huge numbers for the book lady.
"I think the librarian will do really well," said Wahl. "She's a worldwide universal figure in all cultures.
"Right now our top seller is Sigmund Freud; I think she'll outsell him this Christmas."
As for the real Nancy Pearl?
"I think it's a hoot. Who wouldn't?" she said. "It's a wonderful tribute to librarians."