Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Banks, Iain M. The Algebraist (San Francisco: Night Shade Books, c2005) 434 p.
In the year 4034 A.D. humans have achieved interstellar travel and made the acquaintance of a race they call "Dwellers." Dwellers live on gas giant planets, are very long lived, have good memories and very large libraries.

Dweller memories, and libraries, usually proved to be stuffed full of outright nonsense, bizarre myths, incomprehensible images, indecipherable symbols and meaningless equations, plus random assemblages of numbers, letters, pictograms, holophons, sonomemes, chemiglyphs, actinomes and sensata variegata, all of them trawled and thrown together unsorted—or in patterns too abstruse to be untangled—from a jumbled mix of millions upon millions of utterly different and categorically unrelated civilisations, the vast majority of which had long since disappeared and either crumbled into dust or evaporated into radiation." (p. 18).

A human named Fassin Taak visits the Dwellers and tries to extract information from these vast disorganized libraries.

The library had a roof of diamond leaf looking directly upwards into the vermilion-dark sky.... Around him, the walls were lined with shelves, some so widely spaced that they might have doubled as bunk space for humans, others so small that a child's finger might have struggled to fit. Mostly these held books, of some sort. Spindle-secured carousels tensioned between the walls and between the floor and a network of struts above held hundreds of other types of storage devices and systems: swave crystals, holoshard, picospool and a dozen more obscure. (p. 214).

The room was almost perfectly spherical, with no windows, just a circle of dim light shining from the ceiling's centre and further luminescence provided by bio strips inlaid on each shelf, glowing ghostly green. Further stacks of shelves like enormous inward-pointing vanes made the place feel oddly organic, as though these were ribs, and they were inside some vast creature. (p. 217).

Monday, May 30, 2016

Baldacci, David. Stone Cold (New York: Grand Central Publishing, 2007) 388 p.
Caleb Shaw is back, helping the Camel Club and working at the Library of Congress under his new boss, Kevin Philips. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Baldacci, David. The Collectors (New York: Warner Books, 2006) 438 p.
In this sequel Jonathan DeHaven, Director of the Library of Congress Rare Book Room is found dead in a climate controlled vault. We get to know Caleb Shaw a little better.

He smoothed down his rumpled gray hair and loosened his belt a bit. Caleb had a slightly built frame, but as of late he'd experienced an uncomfortable weight gain around his waist. He hoped that riding his bike to work would adequately address this problem. He avoided anything approaching a sensible diet, immensely enjoying his wine and rich food. Caleb was also proud of the fact that he'd never seen the inside of a gym after his graduation from high school. (p. 34).

After finding DeHaven's body Shaw works with the Camel Club to find out what is going on. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Baldacci, David. The Camel Club (New York: Warner Books, c2005) 438 p.
One member of the titular club, a band of conspiracy theorists in Washington, D.C., is Caleb Shaw. Caleb's day job is Reference Specialist in the Rare Book Division of the Library of Congress. His knowledge of rare books comes in handy at times, as does his knowledge of security measures used to protect valuable items. Caleb is not fond of technology and resists getting a personal email account.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Baker, Carlos. The Gay Head Conspiracy (New York: Scribner's, 1973) 185 p.
In a brief episode of this suspense novel two libraries at Harvard are consulted for clues (p. 99-102). The information is found in Widener where the detective is allowed free access to circulation records.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baillie, Martha. The Incident Report (Toronto: Pedlar Press, c2009) 195 p.
This novel is in the form of a series of incident reports for the Allan Gardens Branch of the Toronto Public Library System. They are all written by a Public Service Assistant named Miriam Gordon. The head of the branch is Irene Frenkel, who is calm and businesslike. The longest-serving staff member is Nila Narayan. If you are two minutes late relieving Nila she will be exactly two minutes late the next time she relieves you. Nila cuts men's underwear ads out of magazines and posts them above her desk.

Many of Miriam's incident reports describe bizarre behavior of library patrons: the man who empties whole ranges of shelves and stacks the books on the floor; the man who masturbates on books; the woman who thinks her daughter is poisoning her. Miriam finds notes from an unhinged patron in which he addresses Miriam as if she were Gilda from Rigoletto.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Baharav, I.D. The Winds of April (New York: Primary Sources, 1965) 192 p.
The heroine of this mystery is a Russian translator. As the story begins, she is working in the reading room of the Fifth Avenue New York Public Library. A “bald playful librarian” informs her of the presence of a Russian researcher.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bachelder, Frances H. The Iron Gate (London: Minerva Press, 2000) 168 p.
This heartwarming story features a retired college librarian, William Crampton, who returns to his New England village and builds a public library. William and his dog Bodleian oversee the new library and give the village a valuable resource. The local college librarian, Frank Hawthorne, helps.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Austwick, John. The Mobile Library Murders (London: Robert Hale, 1964) 190 p.
Two library employees die when the County Library van is bombed. County Librarian Mr. Bassett helps the police with inquiries by explaining the routine and mission of the mobile library (p. 64-65).

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Austwick, John. The County Library Murders (London: Robert Hale, 1962) 175 p.
An assistant librarian at the Sluby County Library is young, beautiful and popular.

Some female librarians look as if they had started off as Anglican deaconesses and realized their lack of vocation just in time. Miss Pettigrew—Valerie or Val to her numerous friends—gave no suggestion of the diaconate in the Anglican or any other church. She suggested Persephone, if you were classically minded, or possibly Iseult. Young men had been increasingly attracted to the library since her joining the staff six months before, and by them she had been variously described as “some dame”, a “dish”, “smashing” and a “scorcher”. (p. 5).

Her fellow assistant, Miss Boorman is more stereotypically librarianish. The chief librarian is the eagle-eyed and persnickety Miss North. Miss Pettigrew finds herself at the center of a mystery involving book mutilation and murder.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Austwick, John. Murder in the Borough Library (Great Britain: Black Dagger Crime, 1995) 173 p. Originally published, London: Robert Hale, 1959.
The foreword to this reprint edition explains that John Austwick was a pseudonym of the Reverend Austin Lee (see Sheep's Clothing, no. 390). This story takes place in the borough of Airebridge, which the foreword identifies as the fictional version of Keighley, Yorkshire, where Lee lived. A man is found dead in the reference room of the borough library. The head librarian is Mr. Hartley, a fastidious man who takes special pride in the reference library. The assistants (in order of age) are Miss Alderson, Miss Binns, and Miss Violet Preston. There is also a young male assistant called Charles Kershaw. The assistants tend to be chatty while Mr. Hartley is all business.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Austin, Lynn. Wonderland Creek (Minneapolis: Bethany House, c2011) 391 p.
The Blue Island, Illinois library is run by Mrs. Beasley, who resembles “a sturdy little bulldog, complete with jowls.” (p. 19). It is 1936 and depression-era budget cuts force her to lay off Miss Alice Grace Ripley. Alice is very young and only wants to be a librarian. She decides to take a load of donated books to Acorn Kentucky and volunteer there. Things are not the way she expects and she learns a lot. The librarian in Acorn is a man named Leslie MacDougal.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Astley, Thea. Reaching Tin River (New York: Penguin, 1990) 223 p.
Belle works as a library assistant in Brisbane, Australia, having given up teaching. “I had switched careers before I had really got started on one, abandoning teaching for something so solipsistic, so passive, it takes my breath away.” (p. 92).

Meanwhile I have enough to cope with: a head librarian who summons female myrmidons with a whistle and snap of the fingers, who knows the Dewey system by heart—every category—and refuses to listen to any proposed changes. A natural Luddite, computers are killing him. He furbishes his home with public gallery rejects, collects pigeon droppings and leaves them outside the building for mulch and carts the stuff off in sackfuls....
“He’s good for laughs,” the underlings excuse him in the common room at morning tea break.
It should be laughable, maybe even lovable. I am beginning to worry about the validity of lovableness.
I am working in archives with a permanent smell of dust in my nostrils, that delicate fragrance of old paper and bindings, and I have permanently swollen olfactory glands. But life is better. It’s better. And as two years roll by I pass my qualifying examinations, receive a small promotion and make a circle of friends, all librarians, who have a hair-shirt quality of endurance and a gentleness the public service has never been able to damp out. (p. 73-74).

Working in the archives Belle finds photographs and journals of a man from the 1800s and becomes obsessed with him. She marries the library section head, later deputy librarian, Seb. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Asimov, Isaac. Foundation's Edge (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1982) 366 p.
The Trantor University Library is mentioned, but now it is called the Galactic Library. First in the imagination of a historian who wants to study there.

The Library was outmoded and archaic—it had been so even in Ebling Mis's time—but that was all to the good. Pelorat always rubbed his hands with excitement when he thought of an old and outmoded Library. The older and the more outmoded, the more likely it was to have what he needed. In his dreams, he would enter the Library and ask in breathless alarm, “Has the Library been modernized? Have you thrown out the old tapes and computerizations?” And always he imagined the answer from dusty and ancient librarians, “As it has been, Professor, so is it still.” (p. 35).

Also, members of the Second Foundation discover that all references to Earth have been removed from the Library. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Asimov, Isaac. Second Foundation ([New York]: Gnome Press, c1953) 224 p.
Homir Munn is identified as a “librarian, lanky and terribly ill-at-ease.” (p. 111). He stammers when under stress. His library is not identified but presumably it is the Terminus University Library in the capital of the Foundation. Munn has published numerous papers on the dictator known as the Mule and so is well qualified to go to the Mule's capital to hunt for information. Still, he objects.

I can't do any such a thing. I'm no man of action; no hero of any teleview. I'm a librarian. If I can help you that way, all right, and I'll risk the Second Foundation, but I'm not going out into space on any qu … quixotic thing like that.” (p. 120).

He goes. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Asimov, Isaac. Foundation and Empire (New York: Avon, 1966, c1952) 224 p.
Trantor was once the capital of the galaxy. After the great sack its economy reverted to farming but the University was spared the ruin that befell the rest of the planet. The University Library remained intact mainly because no one much cared about it. Until a scholar came to try and discover a secret of the galaxy.

The library was a deceptively small building which broadened out vastly underground into a mammoth volume of silence and reverie. Ebling Mis paused before the elaborate murals of the reception room.
He whispered—one had to whisper here: “I think we passed the catalog rooms back a way. I'll stop there.” (p. 198).

There are no librarians so Mis works alone.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Arsenault, T.G. Forgotten Souls (Waterville, Maine: Five Star, 2005) 337 p.
Young and pretty, Andrea Varney was “lucky to live in a town where a college education wasn't yet required to be a librarian.” (p. 14).

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Anderson, Sherwood. Beyond Desire (New York: Liveright, c1961) 359 p.
A judge’s daughter from Langdon, Georgia goes to library school at the University of Chicago.

Ethel Long’s eyes were puzzling. They were greenish-blue and hard. Then they were softly blue. She wasn’t particularly sensual. She could be brutally cold. She wanted sometimes to be soft and yielding. When you saw her in a room, tall and slender, well formed, her hair seemed brown. When light shone through, it became red. (p. 121).

A young instructor is fascinated with her and helps her with exams.

Before an examination he worked with her for hours. What a joke the four years at the university had been! What a waste of time and money for such a one as herself! (p. 153).

After finishing her studies she gets a job at a far west branch of the Chicago Public Library, “ … handing out dirty soiled books to dirty soiled people day after day … having to be cheerful about it and act as though you liked it.” (p. 158).

In Chicago Ethel sometimes attends literary parties and meets writers. She is interested in fine clothes. She prefers writers who write about rich powerful people. Ethel comes home and takes charge of the Langdon Public Library. A young man becomes fascinated with her and hangs out at the library frequently watching her.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Amis, Kingsley. The Folks That Live On The Hill (New York: Summit Books, c1990) 246 p.
Retired librarian Harry Caldecote, moving about his study accidentally dislodges a book from a table.

As he stooped for it, swearing in the antique fashion noted by Clare, his glasses fell off. They did that all the time now he had bent their frames so that they no longer hurt his ears where the side-pieces went over them. Half a lifetime as a librarian had no more made him handy in such respects that it had taught him patience or exactitude. Harry Caldecote's face and figure were entirely in keeping with his trade: soft, self-indulgent, languid, but alert against any threat of exertion or inconvenience. He had been saved from overall unsightliness, indeed made quite a personable, neat-looking man by inheriting from his mother the fair colouring and slight physique to be seen to rather better advantage in Clare.
   The library that Harry had long worked in and not briefly been in charge of was that of the National Historical Institute at Rokewood House in Duke's Gate. (It was characteristic of him that he must have been one of the last men alive to go on trying to call it 'Rookwood'.) he had taken an early retirement deal just ahead of the new technology, clutching what had soon enough been revealed as a barely adequate lump sum. The fate in store for him had seemed to be mild, relative penury relieved by idleness. Neither seemed to be coming to pass. he had always had much correspondence with other libraries and librarians far and near, academic, public, private, institutional like his own case, even with booksellers and auctioneers, for he stood out from his profession by being quite interested in libraries, books and associated matters. And there was the reputation, perhaps the bare name, of the Institute itself. Anyway Harry had started to get requests for his services from all over the place. (p. 18).

One of these requests comes from Toronto, where he is offered a job as "... a glorified mechanic called a Principal of Bibliotechnology with rank of full professor in charge of department (golly) to look after all the computers and other ironmongery." (p. 182). 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Amis, Kingsley. That Uncertain Feeling (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1956) 247 p.
John Lewis is a young librarian working at a public library in Wales. He is trying to support his family on an inadequate income, and is lured into marital infidelity.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Alington, C.A. Gold and Gaiters (London: Faber and Faber, 1950) 207 p.
The Garminster (England) Cathedral Library provides the setting for a very gentle, civilized detective story. Archdeacon James Castleton acts as librarian though he does not feel qualified. The library and its collections are briefly described on pages 76-79. Some Roman coins, rather than books, are the focus of the mystery.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Aird, Catharine. Parting Breath (New York: Doubleday, 1978) 186 p.
Peter Pringle, Librarian of Tarsus College, is a murder victim. The "tubby little" librarian's bailiwick is the Greatorex Library which is described on p. 18-19. 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Aird, Catharine. The Stately Home Murder (New York: Bantam, 1980) 193 p. Originally published in Great Britain as The Complete Steel (London: McDonald, 1969)
Osborne Meredith is the Librarian to the Earl of Ornum. Meredith is a small, dapper man who keeps his books and manuscripts neat and orderly. Meredith is murdered in the library.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Adamson, Lydia. Beware the Tufted Duck (New York: Signet, 1996) 252 p.
-------. Beware the Butcher Bird (New York: Signet, 1997) 219 p.
-------. Beware the Laughing Gull (New York: Signet, 1998) 229 p.

Lucy Wayles is a retired librarian who is now a Central Park bird watcher. She is a “sensible Southern lady.”

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Adams, Harold. No Badge No Gun: A Carl Wilcox Mystery (New York: Walker, 1998) 202 p.
Hazel Warford is the librarian at Jonesville High School. She is also filling in for the City Librarian who is on maternity leave. She graduated from the university in Grand Forks, North Dakota and worked as a teacher before coming to Jonesville. She is a small but formidable woman. “Classmates don’t talk to each other in my library. If they want conversation, they go somewhere else.” (p. 20). Hazel and Carl Wilcox turn out to be a good match and she helps him solve the mystery.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Adams, Deborah. All the Crazy Winters (New York: Ballantine Books, 1992) 215 p.
Delia Cannon volunteers at the Jesus Creek (Tennessee) Public Library. Her specialty is genealogy, and she is presently alphabetizing census records. The Librarian is Estelle Carhart, who is murdered early in the story. Her assistant is Pamela Satterfield. "Pamela, handy at organizing what had previously been a rather haphazardly run library, didn't have any aptitute with people." (p. 33).
"For twenty years Estelle Carhart had run the library in her charming but slipshod manner. It wasn't unusual for Estelle to send someone out the door without checking their books, especially if she happened to be engaged in an interesting conversation at the time. Nor was it unusual for her to excuse late books if the reader claimed to have intended to return them on time. To Estelle, good intentions were as good as fact.
It was clear that things were about to change drastically. While Pamela Satterfield had only been with the library a short time, she had very definite, very rigid ideas of how the place should be run.... Now that Pamela whould be moving up to the position of head librarian, the patrons had better shape up." (p. 38-39).
Later, Sarah Elizabeth Leach, who had intended to study library science before marrying into one of the towns old families, joins the library staff.

-------. All the Hungry Mothers (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994) 209 p.

Sarah Elizabeth Leach and Delia Cannon appear again in this story, but we do not get to see the inside of the library.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ackroyd, Peter. Chatterton (New York: Grove Press, c1987). 234 p.
A librarian plays a supporting role in this eccentric story.

Philip Slack stared at the rows of dark books; then he switched on the electric light above his head, and in the bright circle he could see the red, brown and green cloths of the volumes, their spines dulled and rubbed, many of their titles so faded that only certain letters could be recognised, their edges worn at the top where other people had taken them down to read them. And, beyond this circle of light in which he stood, the books cast intense shadows. He was in 'the stack', the basement of the library in which he worked, where all the forgotten or neglected volumes were deposited. Some of these had been piled in corners, where they leaned precariously against the damp stone walls of the basement; but some were scattered across the floor, and it occurred to him that they had been dragged from the shelves by vermin before being eaten. Within this place there lingered the musty, invasive odour of decay; but it was a smell which soothed and pleased Philip. (p. 68)

Another evocative scene:

Some recently acquired volumes had been placed [on his desk] for him to catalogue and, as he gradually became absorbed in his work, his anxiety abated. The library was not peaceful but it was a place of somewhat precarious refuge, and by now he was accustomed to the footsteps, the coughing and the occasional muttered voices of those who came to sit here in the early afternoon. And why should he, who knew the comfort of books, deny it to others? (p. 71).

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Today is two for one day.

Abbott, Jeff. Promises of Home (New York: Ballantine Books, 1996) 271 p.
We get small glimpses of Jordy's library work one again. He does the layout for a library newsletter. He listens to "a very eager salesman from Austin ... pitch unaffordable booktracking software" (p. 24). He is lenient with "no coffee" rules and overdue book fines. We also learn of "a terror so complete, so utter, and so deep that no adult should have to withstand it.
Friday is Story Day. The kids start arriving about eleven-thirty. And once they're inside their volume controls never seem to get adjusted. Games of tag in the stacks are extremely popular, as are attempts to smuggle in crayons, either for vandalism or a delicious prelunch snack. The periodicals section, usually habituated by the elderly, clears out faster than an after-hours beer joint when the sirens approach. Whoever said old folks crave the company of children needs to come into this library on a Friday and see how spryly these eldsters get away from the little tykes." (p. 32-33)

-------. Distant Blood (New York: Ballantine, 1996) 334 p.
Another Jordan Poteet mystery, but the library doesn't really enter into this one. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Abbott, Jeff. The Only Good Yankee (New York: Ballantine Books, 1995) 244 p.
The library plays a smaller role in this return of Jordy Poteet. Jordy does mention the need to weed unused books, selling them to supplement the book budget (p. 10). Jordy uses a reverse phone book from the reference collection to get a vital clue in solving the mystery.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Abbott, Jeff. Do Unto Others (New York: Ballantine Books, 1994) 248 p.
The Mirabeau (Texas) Public Library is the scene of a murder of an old woman who has been campaigning to get "smut" like D.H. Lawrence removed from the library shelves. The Librarian, Jordan Poteet (who is not a trained librarian) is the prime suspect. Jordan left a high-powered publishing job in Boston to return home and care for his Alzheimer-stricken mother.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Abbey, Lynn. Out of Time (New York: Ace Books, c2000) 311 p.
Emma Merrigan is Acquisitions Librarian at a midwest university library in the town of Bower (sounds like Ann Arbor to me). She helps the Systems Librarian Matt Barto keep the network running despite interference from the University Librarian Eugene Shaunekker. Emma's attention moves elsewhere however when she discovers she has otherworldly powers.