from the archive: "the librarian's image"

I'm processing a collection at Northeastern donated by Michael Meltsner, one of the faculty at the School of Law. On an op-ed page from the New York Times, 13 October 2003, I came across the following letter to the editor.

To the Editor:

Your Oct. 9 Arts pages article about the librarian action figure modeled on Nancy Pearl referred to librarians who found the figure offensive as the ''humorless reaches of librarianship.'' A number of my colleagues have taken offense at being described as such. We are opposed to the action figure not because we are ''humorless'' but because it perpetuates a stereotype that is demeaning to our profession.

Perhaps public librarians are not directly affected by the dowdy librarian stereotype, but as law librarians we provide library services to some of the most prestigious firms in the country and must maintain a professional image.

The librarian doll with the ''amazing push-button shushing action'' damages the professional image that we have worked so hard to achieve.


Port Washington, N.Y., Oct. 9, 2003

I think it's the second to last paragraph that really takes the cake. I'm fascinated by the way it combines a total lack of willingness to enjoy the light-hearted, self-depricating humor embodied by the action figure -- not to mention the way the action figure is an ironic commentary on the stereotype she's unhappy with -- and professional snobbery at the expense of public librarianship. I mean really: who in their right mind disses public librarians? I guess now we have our answer!

Given that this was a random letter to the New York Times from seven years ago, I'm not really out to slam Ms. Danielson for what I sincerely hope are now outdated sentiments! But I was really impressed by the elitism this letter was saturated with, and I'm amusing myself on this stifling hot Monday in June by re-posting it here.

1 comment:

  1. *snorts* That was hilarious! I was doing my diploma in Library & Information Services around the time that figure was released, one of our teachers showed it to us & my friends & I thought it was brilliant!