Friday, February 29, 2008

"Cursing, threatening, perhaps violent librarians."

"It was a concept that they could not get their minds around. Their whole world fell to pieces and not one of the subjects they took at school gave them a clue about putting it back together. Had they Googled it, it still wouldn't have helped them"

sounds somewhat more interesting than it actually is…

(i, at least, have managed to bite my tongue before the curse words actually emerge, or at least muttered them under my breath)

Free for All: oddballs, geeks, and gangstas in the public library is a book that i saw somewhere and thought would be somewhat entertaining (i, like many others like me, snap up those tales of libraries and bookstores for the camaraderie, relatability, or something like that.) Dan Borchert

“was a short-order cook, door-to-door salesman, telemarketer (did a bit of that myself back in the day...), and Christmas-tree-chopper before landing work in a California library. He never could have predicted his encounters with the colorful kooks, bullies, and tricksters who fill the pages of this hilarious memoir.”

(Some note should be made here that Borchert isn’t a MLS degreed librarian~nor did he ever call himself one in the book~apparently there has been some not-mild controversy surrounding this because in his marketing or publicity interviews or some such, he has been called a librarian; and of course many librarians, having worked hard and paid much for that grad school degree, resent people taking the title librarian unjustly~let me just say here, that, tho i am among those~to a certain extent~who cling to that title so proudly and possessively, i’m not sure if this is his mistake or those marketing him and i’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and much of the public is unawares so that can’t really be blamed [to a certain extent~i believe it is at least partly our job to educate the public…] {and we have a librarian assistant at my library without whom i would be lost~but she's still not a librarian~perhaps Borchert's system should make a clearer delineation between tasks that various job functions perform than they currently seem to~because his book makes it appear a little haphazard...and maybe it is...})

Having got that out of the way, Free for All was quite a bit less than i wanted it to be. As many other librarians have said i have much more humorous (and more frightening) tales to tell (though a few of his were unique in some respects~i'm sure every librarian has at least a few of those...) And is this really an urban Los Angeles library~it sounds a bit more like a smaller town~or is that just my cynical jaded self? I must say i was not overly impressed with Borchert’s writing ability either (nor his seeming equation with the way things are done at his library, in his system with the way things are done in all systems~such as who does what and way as well as the way his bureaucracy function.) I’m not a big fan of the book's organizational scheme either. It wasn’t a complete waste of time, though, and there were some amusing moments. Perhaps this would actually be of more interest to those who do not work in libraries to discover that all is not quiet in the library or that we do not "just sit around and read all day, perhaps for me it is more like a “busman’s holiday”.

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