Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

freeforallFree for All is an accurate depiction of life as a librarian in a public library.

Sometimes, the job is funny. Other times, it’s incredibly sad. If you’ve never worked in a library system, this book will reveal some of the secrets of a librarian’s day-to-day life.

Before I worked at a public library, I thought it was a quiet, organized mecca for students and bookworms. Now, that I’ve spent some time on the librarian-side of the desk, I know better. My idea of a library was far too simple.

It is a study hall, archive, playroom, home for the homeless, kitchen, bank, movie theater, video game store, newspaper kiosk and so much more. I guess the appropriate question is: what doesn’t a library do?

And a public librarian is so much more than just a librarian. She is a counselor, a computer wizard, a curator of excellent and free entertainment.

She talks to the lonely, uplifts the lost and helps the public navigate the dangerous waters of the internet.

Librarians are my heroes.

If I ever cease writing for a living, look for me at the library. Odds are, I’ll end up back there.

Perhaps some of the policies at Don Borchert’s library have changed, but at the time that he wrote this book, they charged 50 cents to put a hold in for a patron. This policy shocked me, as my library always offered that service for free.

Borchert cheerfully documents the difficulties with summer reading people vs the school year regulars. It’s a real problem.

If Borchert’s book is too edgy for you- he uses rough language and doesn’t hold back on some of his opinions- read Gina Sheridan’s I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks.

Both are excellent and realistic non-fiction books about the trials, tribulations, and, sometimes, life-enhancing satisfaction of working at the library.

Thanks for reading!


Bizarre Books by Russell Ash

Bizarre Books by Russell Ash

bizarrebooksThough it relies too heavily on puns and doubles ententes, Bizarre Books is a humorous look at titles, subjects and author names in published materials. It is a must-read for any book lover or professional who deals with the printed word on a daily basis. *cough* Librarians. *cough*

“All the books recorded are real titles, with real authors. All of them were published with the serious intention of informing, not amusing. In this, they have signally failed.” introduction, pg 7.

I don’t think that ALL of them were meant to be informative. Take this entry from one of my favorite genres, science fiction: Planet of the Knob Heads. Stanton A. Coblentz. Science Fiction, Atlas Publishing, 1939. “Jack and Marjorie are brought to the distant world of their captors. In far Andromeda, they struggle against “favors” of the knob-heads – but hope fades as they face the High Knobule!” pg 40. Almost irresistible, isn’t it?

If science fiction isn’t your thing, how about this (I’m guessing) thriller: What Farrar Saw. James Hanley. Nicholson & Watson, 1946. “No story by Mr. Hanley is without its moral implications; here we have a glimpse of nightmare horror and chaos in a monstrous machine ridden world. It starts simply enough as chaos does. A young couple set off for a holiday in Scotland.” pg 44. Sounds at least as promising as The Girl on the Train, wouldn’t you say?

Those were some of the fictional books that caught my eye. On to the non-fiction. If it was on a shelf in front of me, I’d pick up Carnivorous Butterflies by Austin Hobart Clark, pg 62.

In the most ineffective category, the prize goes to: Atomic Bombing: How to Protect Yourself. Watson Davis, et al. New York: William H. Wise & Co. 1950. One of its suggestions was: “Curl up in a ball as you hit the ground.” pg 166.

By far, my most favorite selection is: The New Guide of the Conversation in Portuguese and English in Two Parts. Pedro Carolino.

Familiar phrases: Let us go on ours feet. At what o’clock is to get up? At which is this hat. Have him some children? pg 54. And so on. The authors dedicated another three pages to this gem alone.

Highly recommended from this bookworm. It made me laugh a lot and that is not easy to do.

Thanks for reading!