Library Confidential: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library Paperback – 8 Nov 2007
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Puts the Shhh! in Shocking
From the Back Cover
Puts the 'shhhh' in shocking!
The public library - a haven of calm, source of information, home to the student, the geek and the ageing librarian. Or so you might think....
When he first took a job as assistant librarian in a public library, Don Borchett expected a relaxed, quiet working life. What he didn't expect to encounter was people hiding from the law, falling in love, fighting, dealing drugs, and looking up porn.
With a cast including drunks in tutus, patrons with a fear of the number six, a flasher and a marmoset, Don Borchett's hilarious memoir peeks behind the bookshelves to reveal the weird, dangerous and downright dirty world of the public library, and the fearless civil servants who patrol its aisles.
Don Borchett has been an assistant librarian in the Californian Public Library system for 10 years. His previous jobs included cook, fine china salesman, Christmas tree chopper and sod farm worker. This is his first book.
Top Customer Reviews
Although this is set in America the similarities are so perfect that libraries must be the same all over the world. There is always a regular customer who comes in to chat to their favourite staff, always an angry person shouting about putting their books in a bag, always a flasher who thinks its never been done before and always some kids who have to be kicked out every week for being too noisy. From a staff point of view its nice to read how other libraries suffer the same as yours, how all librarians have their own secret language (weeding the books for example) and how all library staff know exactly when to expect trouble. From a customer point of view you'll probably read this and remark that you don't believe this could happen in a library! People dirtying the books, refusing to pay fines, abusing the staff and cheating the community out of much loved classics! Shameless.
This is a great book which I thoroughly recommend to everyone but especially those people who think it might be nice to work somewhere quiet and peaceful like the local library. Best let yourself know what you're in for :)
I thought much of it was delivered dead-pan and the amusement came after some thought; not much, but certainly a non-zero amount was required.
There isn't much obvious structure to the overall story but I found it an easy read, with each incident following onto the next with ease, building up a mosaic of incidents that was greater than the sum of the parts.
The problem for me was that Borchert never really fixed on any of these things long enough to bring together a coherent memoir. Time skips backwards and forwards. The anecdotes can be quite mundane where they were supposed to be scandalous. The reflections on libraries petered out before they said anything profound, and books themselves scarcely seemed to factor at all. Though, to be fair, he does point out that while many librarians join their profession out of a love of books, eventually it can almost drop out of the equation under a tide of customer service and paperwork... I also noticed that Borchert seems to be quite preoccupied with race. He never comes across as racist - just a little misguided - and I understand that his area is hugely diverse, but it seems that every person he mentions has to be noted as being black, or Latino, or Filipino, or even pointedly Sikh or Hindu. In some cases this fitted the context of the anecdote, but in others it just seemed unnecessary. I felt myself rolling my eyes and thinking, 'What does that have to do with anything?Read more ›