Quiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public Librarian

Quiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public Librarian

by Scott Douglas

With a keen eye for the absurd and a Kesey-esque cast of characters (witness the librarian who is sure Thomas Pynchon is Julia Robertss latest flame), Douglas takes us where few readers have gone before.

Punctuated by his own highly subjective research into library history-from Andrew Carnegies Gilded Age to todays Afghanistan-Douglas gives us a surprising (and sometimes hilarious) look at the lives which make up the social institution that is his library.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Nonfiction
  • Rating: 3.20
  • Pages: 330
  • Publish Date: March 25th 2008 by Da Capo Press
  • Isbn10: 0786720913
  • Isbn13: 9780786720910

What People Think about "Quiet, Please: Dispatches From A Public Librarian"

For bad examples, see your book. We can bury your book so deep in the OPAC that no patron will ever find it.

Supposedly a memoir about Douglas work as a public librarian, this book is actually about how Douglas is smart and sane, while everyone else who works at or comes into the library is crazy and dumb. Actually, theres a third kind: humor that totally doesnt work.

In reality, I am completely disinterested in being categorized with this man as a librarian. It's my sincere hope that readers do not think that Douglas represents all public librarians. Douglas needs to remember why he became a librarian in the first place and if he can't, maybe he should reassess his career choice and leave the reference work for those of us who still care.

Because A) I thought library school was the biggest waste of my time and money and will tell it to anyone who will listen 2) I think librarians by and large are the most socially defunct group of people (I may be included in that) III) Although I love the patrons, I have repeatedly said "This job would be great if it wasn't for the patrons." This book reminded me of the many patrons who left me shaking my head (in both wonder and disgust). He was, in fact, looking for books, like to read. There are the bun heads, the racists, and the bitter ol' hens who make what seems like the most boring job in the world riddled with more drama than LC and Heidi at the same club opening (see--librarians are hip; I so know what The Hills is all about).

Parts of the book were a little disheartening, since I'm currently enrolled in Library School, and hearing some of the bad things about being a librarian, and the way he questioned his decision to become one and stuff, but as the book went on I found myself seeing that it's not so bad, and that a lot of the humorous horror stories he's relating could be lifted out of my own experiences working at the bookstore, with maybe a few little details changed (for example, he has a patron come up and tell him there is a man sleeping in a restroom stall, I had a woman come up to me and tell me there was a woman scratching her skin off in the ladies room, or perverts jerking off on the computers compared to some guy blowing his wad on a woman's leather jacket (while she was wearing it) in the Woman's Study aisle).

As a 5-year library employee (who would like to eventually get her Masters, but has to wait for financial reasons for a few years more), I could relate to so many of his stories, both of crazy patrons, and intra-office drama/gossip. Throughout the book, he questions whether library work is something he really WANTS to do, or something he merely has ended up doing. Throughout the book, he drives home the fact that as library employees, we are public servants, but for some reason, his description of standing alone in an empty building that had so many memories, and how when the patrons were gone, it was no longer a library at all...that was the story that drove home the fact to me the most.

Is this what working in a library is like? Mr. Douglas, whether through his own mentality or through exaggerations meant to obtain what he thought would be a funny book, seems to see librarianship as long stretches of boredom punctuated by encounters with crazy patrons and co-workers. It seems like he is working toward some epiphany about his job, but instead, he finds a girlfriend and that makes him happy. My library school experience was good, but like any other educational opportunity, you get out of it what you put into it. Douglas ought to be a little more thankful that people are working to provide advanced education and set professional standards so he can make a living in the career he has chosen. I suspect Douglas is a better librarian than this book indicates, that he is trying to portray himself self-deprecatingly to achieve laughs. In the end though, I hope this book is not taken as the only version of librarianship by those who don't work in libraries. I hope it isn't taken as an excuse by lousy librarians to do their job even more poorly.