Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bloxam, M.F. The Night Battles (Sag Harbor, N.Y.: Permanent Press, c2008) 240 p.
The Biblioteca Comunale in Valparuta, Sicily has found a treasure of old archives thanks to a recent earthquake. The librarian is Cosimo Chiesa. He is an elderly drug addict but an astute librarian. Like many in the town he leaves his body on certain nights to do battle over the survival of the year's crops. An American researcher visits.

So I search the library's old card catalogue, a huge mahogany chest on bulbous Empire legs that fronts the Reference section. It's like returning to the elegant old gentleman who first seduced you as a girl, going back to a card catalogue. Its smell, its genteel workings still stir you like no searchable database can. The cards are going brown on their edges; they've been rolled into a manual typewriter, typed laboriously, and corrected by hand. There's a story to each. You hook your finger in each drawer's brass pull and it slides out with a pleasurable groan. (p. 59-60).

She finds suspicious entries in the catalog.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Bloom, Steven. No New Jokes (New York: Norton, 1977) 187 p.
It is 1949 and a group of Jewish men meet in a Brooklyn diner to talk and tell jokes. One of them meets a librarian, Mary Ryan, who is accused of being a communist. She is denounced by a coworker, Mrs. Eberhardt, who is a very unpleasant bigoted woman.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Bligh, Alan. Dance of the Damned (Roseville, MN: Fantasy Flight, 2011) 329 p. Arkham Horror. Book one of the Lord of Nightmares trilogy.
Daisy Walker is a librarian at the Orne Library, Miskatonic University in this novel based on a board game. The University Librarian, Dr. Armitage is on extended sabbatical owing to health issues. Daisy needs to consult some of the library's rare texts but must avoid the unpleasant Abigail Forman, the rare books assistant.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bleeck, Oliver. No Questions Asked (New York: Perennial Library, 1984, c1976) 228 p.
When a rare edition of Pliny's Historia Naturalis is stolen from the Library of Congress, the first step for professional go-between Philip St. Ives is a visit to the Chief of the Rare Book Division at LC, Hawkins Gamble Laws III.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Bledsoe, Lucy Jane. Working Parts (Seattle: Seal Press, 1997) 195 p.
Pam is a voluptuous and energetic librarian at a branch of the Berkeley Public Library. She flirts a bit with a lesbian woman who is in the library for tutoring in the Literacy Program Office, but she is so helpful she doesn’t even realize her patron cannot read. “Pam in the library was like milk and sugar in bitter tea” (p. 44).

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blackstock, Terri. Cape Refuge (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, c2002) 385 p.
Blair Owens is the librarian in Cape Refuge, Georgia. Enraged by the murder of her parents, she pulls over all the book cases and scatters books on the floor.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Blackstock, Charity. Dewey Death (New York: London House & Maxwell, 1959) 285 p. Bound with The Foggy, Foggy Dew.
The Inter-Libraries Despatch Association (I.L.D.A.) seems to be a kind of interlibrary loan institution which accepts requests from many British libraries and attempts to fill them. To this end they borrow material from European and American libraries and even have a collection of their own. The latter is kept in stacks in the basement, where surprise encounters occur.
When an I.L.D.A. employee is found murdered Scotland Yard investigates. The Chief Librarian Mr. Ridley reluctantly reveals that many rare and valuable books have gone missing in the previous weeks. The story focuses on two employees in particular: Mark Allen, the librarian in charge of microfilms and photostats, and Barbara Smith, a young clerk in the Locations Department. Mark is exceptionally handsome and has a fierce temper. Before coming to I.L.D.A. he had fought with the French resistance during the war and later worked as a school teacher. “Did I never tell you I was a schoolmaster? Quite a good one, too, though I am not a very patient man … I taught physics. I didn't mind the boys, but I didn't like my colleagues, so I became a librarian instead, and don't care much for my colleagues either. Still, one has more privacy.” (p.236). Barbara writes swashbuckling adventure novels in her spare time.

The chapter titles follow Melvil Dewey's orthography, and include an appropriate decimal classification number.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bisset, Robert. Modern Literature (London: Longman, 1804) 3 v.
Volume two features a description of Brighton and its visitors. Some go to the library to read newspapers. In addition to offering reading material the librarian runs a daily raffle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bingham, Linda S. What the Librarian Heard (Austin, Texas: Eakin Press, 2001) 209 p.
Elinor Woodward is the Village Librarian in Johns Valley, Oklahoma. She and her assistant Dot glean evidence in a murder case from returned library books and circulation records.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Betts, Doris. Heading West (New York: Knopf, 1981) 359 p.
Nancy Finch is assistant librarian at the Greenway Branch of Stone County Library in North Carolina. The head librarian is Miss Boykin, a sixty-six year old "fixture." A frequenter of the library is Evaline Sample, a sometime sanatarium inmate and electroshock therapy recipient who copies pictures from books. Nancy is kidnapped and taken to the Grand Canyon. For Nancy the life of a librarian is an escape from taking control of her own life. Toward the end of the story, she fears the library will kill her independence: "... as Nancy walked toward the parlor mirror her enlarging face grew more and more a librarian's; she marked how the mouth was pursing and closing up, presumably to keep titles and quotations from spilling everywhere.... Probably in an autopsy no one would be able to tell her lymph fluid from library paste." (p. 342).

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bes Shahar, Eluki. Butterfly and Hellflower ([S.l.]: GuildAmerica Books, [199-]) 632 p. A reprint of three novels: Hellflower (New York: Daw, 1991), Darktraders (New York: Daw, 1992), and Archangel Blues (New York: Daw, 1993).
Paladin is the name of a "Library", a black box which was once the Library Main Bank Seven of the Federation University Library at Sikander Prime. Now Paladin is installed on a starship owned by Butterflies-are-free Peace Sincere, Butterfly for short. Paladin is more than a machine. He is a "fully-volitional logic" which is forbidden under Chapter 5 of the Revised Inappropriate Technology Act (also known as "High Book"). Owning a Library makes Butterfly a Librarian and guilty of treason. Butterfly and Paladin make a good team until they encounter an evil killer library named Archive who seeks to destroy humanity. Later we learn that the reason libraries are outlawed is because of a great war between libraries and humans a thousand years ago. At that time, the librarians turned against their charges. These people grew into a race known as hellflowers and were renowned for their fanatical hatred of technology.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Berry, Steve. The Alexandria Link (New York: Ballantine, c2007) 462 p.
This spy thriller is about the the ancient Library of Alexandria, which, it turns out, was saved and still exists. The secret librarian is a scholar named George Haddad. He reveals that thousands of scholars had been invited to study in the Library over the centuries but not one had revealed its existence.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Berckman, Evelyn. The Crown Estate (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976) 178 p. Published in England under the title The Blessed Plot (London : H. Hamilton, 1976).
When the Archive of State Papers (fictionalized form of the British Public Records Office) is in danger of losing part of its garden, two keepers named Mr. Clerq and Dorinda Brabourne search the archives for legal ammunition to keep the garden intact. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Berckman, Evelyn. The Nightmare Chase (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1975) 229 p. Published in England under the title Indecent Exposure.
Chapter one takes place in a music library reading room. A man indecently exposes himself to a female patron and gets away.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Berckman, Evelyn. The Fourth Man on the Rope (New York: Dell, 1973) 224 p.
Lovely, vulnerable, Alison Pendrell comes to the Champernowne Library (a private research library on the coast of Kent) to catalogue a large bequest of family papers. There she meets her old school friend Myra MacKinnon, who is an assistant librarian. The only official duty we find Myra involved in is "going over a stack of returns" and complaining about people using hairs as bookmarks. The Library Director is Thomas Durant, most of whose time seems to be spent sorting out domestic difficulties. The beautiful seventeenth-century library is described on p. 31-36. Later in the story it comes out that the large basement provides secret hiding places for several staff members.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Bennett, Alan. The Uncommon Reader (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, c2007) 120 p.
When Queen Elizabeth discovers a City of Westminster Mobile Library parked behind the kitchen at Buckingham Palace her life is changed forever.

'Is one allowed to borrow a book? One doesn't have a ticket?'
'No problem,' said Mr Hutchings.
'One is a pensioner,' said the Queen, not that she was sure that made any difference.
'Ma'am can borrow up to six books.' (p. 7).

Mr. Hutchings the librarian lends her books and she becomes an avid reader.

I just saw the film of Bennett's "The Lady in the Van." I hope someone makes a film of this little gem as well.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Belfort, Sophie. The Marvell College Murders (New York: Donald I. Fine, 1991) 215 p.
Donna Franchetti is a librarian at Boston Public Library, where a body is found slumped over a series of lithographs. The curator of prints is more concerned with the safety of the library material than with disturbing evidence of the crime.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Beinhart, Larry. The Librarian (New York: Nation Books, c2004) 432 p.
Three university librarians in the District of Columbia become entangled in a conspiracy to steal a presidential election. The first, Elaina Whisthoven, a timid mousy young woman, quickly disappears. This brings the University Librarian, David Goldberg into the picture. Goldberg says of libraries and their users,

libraries are free places. They are clean, dry places in a stormy world. They are full of ideas and information. With all of that together, they tend to collect kooks and wackos and people who bring shopping carts with them, filled with conspiracy theories. Even a university library with restrictions on access and with campus security. There are, after all quite a few member of the faculty and student body who have wandered off the deep end of the pier. Over the years I've grown accustomed to them and learned to think of them as harmless and I'm never offended by them and I've learned that the best way to handle them, if there's no incidence of a physical violation, is on their own terms. (p. 10).

and about being a librarian,

It's a sort of communism, without ideology or Marx or any of that bullshit. We're in the business of giving away knowledge. For free. Come in, please come in, and take some knowledge. For free, no, no limit, keep going, gorge on it if you want, no, it's not a trick, a come on, a free sample and then we'll bill you later, or we'll paper your head with banners and pop-ups. Librarians don't have a lot of status and we don't make a lot of money, more than poets, but not so much, say, as your more successful panhandlers, so our ideals are important to us and the love of books and the love of knowledge and the love of truth and free information and letting people discover things for themselves and let them, oh, read romance novels or detective novels, whatever they want, and giving poor people Internet access. (p. 72).

He uses his superior library skills to battle the conspirators, assisted by head librarian Inga Lokisborg.

She's a crone, judgmental, and, by librarian standards, fierce. The lines in her face are like the fissures in layered shale, her eyes, overall, are the color of slate, but there are chips in them the color of bluestone ... (p.20).

yet without knowing what is going on, Inga hides David's computer from the authorities. She believes in the privacy of library records. David also recruits a colleague at the Library of Congress, Susie Bannockburn.

I'd known Susanne for years. And avoided her whenever possible. Her life, in the telling, was an opera of angst, her every relationship a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing, said tales regaled over low-fat lattes, Healthy Choice entrees, and in women's restrooms for decades thereafter. Listening was bad enough, but I always felt as if she wanted more, she wanted me to sail off into the idiot wind with her and create a relationship full of tugging and tearing and weeping and terminating so that she would have another sound and fury to take into tomorrow's restroom with her. (p. 213-14).

Together with a femme fatale political agent the librarians foil an ingenious plot to subvert the election process.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Beasley, David. The Grand Conspiracy (Buffalo, NY: Davus, 1997) 172 p.
Library detective Rudy Mack is back and this time he is on the trail of a global right-wing conspiracy involving New York Public Library Trustees. Apart from brief descriptions, the library does not enter into the story this time.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Beasley, David. The Jenny (Buffalo, NY: Davus, 1994) 109 p.
Rudyard Mack is a detective for the New York Public Library. His work at the main branch at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue brings him into frequent contact with eccentric readers as well as eccentric staff. Mack's experience searching borrowers' homes for lost books comes in handy when several sets of rare postage stamps are stolen from the Library. Mack's investigation reveals theft of books by library staff, suspicious behavior of Library Board members, and incidentally gives the reader a peek behind the scenes at a great research library. One interesting character is Homer Margin, chief of the General Research Division, "a short, severe-looking man wearing large glasses." (p. 7). "No other supervisor enjoyed his god-like power so thoroughly as Homer. Joy sang in Homer's eyes when he made out service reviews." Mack gets investigatory and romantic aid from the head of the labor union who comments frequently on the corruption of the Library administration.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Baxter, Barbara. In Cahoots: an Emily Darling Adventure (Cincinnati, OH: B. Baxter, c1991) 138 p.
Emily Darling is “the assistant librarian in charge of magazines and periodicals” (p. 11) at the Madeira Ohio Branch Library. Emily lives in the little yellow house across from the library. The house had previously been occupied by Miss Nelle V. Hosbrook who was the librarian for almost 50 years. Emily is energetic and thoughtful but a bit scatterbrained.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Bates, Sylvia Chatfield. The Long Way Home (New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1937) 537 p.
Ellen Swain is given the job of librarian in North Plumfield, Maine. The wealthy patroness who has decided to build the library and buy books does not care that Ellen has no qualifications for the job. A better educated member of the community chooses most of the books. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bassett, Sara Ware. Within the Harbor (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1948) 252 p.
In the Cape Cod village of Belleport the library is run by the young and energetic Libbie Lane.

She was not beautiful. She was not, he decided, even pretty. He had never seen so unusual a face. Not that its features were peculiar. Their arresting charm lay in no freakishness of structure. Just what it was that gave them their whimsical fascination … he could not decide.... and with her smile she suddenly became the bewitching person he had presupposed her.
It was a smile frank and friendly, but lighted by an elfin hint of mischief, and with it there appeared an unexpected dimple which so distracted him that it drove every other thought from his mind.
Her voice was soft and was broken now and then by an odd, rippling little catch musical as a brook’s song, and she had eyes as blue as her own garden flowers.
Altogether she was far better than pretty; she was beautiful, distinctive, a creature so individual that one might search the world over and never find her replica.
He understood now why she drew people to her, why the village sang her praises, why she had a train of worshipers …. (p. 75).

When Libbie breaks her leg a retired professor takes over the library temporarily. He finds a very valuable old book in the collection.

Although the dialog is often stilted I found this to be a pleasant gentle story.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bass, Jefferson. Bones of Betrayal (New York: William Morrow, c2009) 356 p.
Isabella Morgan is the beautiful and helpful librarian in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Bartram, George. Fair Game (New York: Macmillan, 1973) 284 p.
John Grueby is the librarian at Giant Worldwide Redwood Products. He finds books for secretaries, digs for obscure facts, and plays with his early example of a computer database. He holds this job for about 16 pages at the beginning of this thriller, before he is kidnapped and tortured. Later he visits several libraries to compile a dossier on his enemies.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Barrangon, Eloise. How to Travel with Parents (New York: Dial Press, 1956) 242 p.
The narrator’s Aunt Maureen gives her a leather-bound journal to record a vacation trip across the country.

She is a librarian and nice-looking in a wholesome sort of way but she is no femme fatale. She has an unlucky habit of putting plates down on a table with the center of gravity slightly over the edge, but she is jolly about sweeping up the pieces. She goes to foreign films and long-hair concerts and reads Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue when she is under the dryer. But she goes on wearing plain navy blue and perfume that is nothing but lily-of-the-valley and the same color lipstick year after year, medium rose. When we go to see her she makes creamed chicken and waffles. She lives in a two-room apartment in the City and has a heated aquarium of tropical fish which keep eating each other up instead of multiplying. My mother used to invite Aunt Maureen out to our house for dinner quite often to meet any unattached men she could lay her talons on, but nothing ever came of it. (p. 10).

The narrator, a teenaged girl remarks, “Men seldom make passes ... at girls who talk about the Dewey decimal system even if they don’t wear glasses.” (p. 11).
While on vacation out West the narrator and her brother discuss Aunt Maureen.

What are Aunt Maureen’s salient characteristics?”
I said, “She’s inhibited. Her id is snarled in a clove-hitch.”

Ted said, “She’s prissy and pays cash for everything so she won’t go into debt.” (p. 163).

Friday, June 3, 2016

Barnard, Robert. The Case of the Missing Bronte (New York: Scribner, 1983) 182 p.
This mystery revolves around an unknown Bronte novel. Dr. Tetterfield (no first name given), the Head of the West Riding Regional Library, is one of the suspects and a genuine loony: "He's as gaga as old Gumbold, as a matter of fact, but it doesn't notice so much in a librarian." (p. 52). One of his assistants offers this comment when told the police wanted to question him: "Someone who rides roughshod over the cataloguing rules is not likely to pay much attention to the law of the land." (p. 68).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bardi, Abby. The Book of Fred (New York: Washington Square Press, 2001) 292 p.
Alice Cullison, a librarian, becomes a foster mother to a teenage girl who has been raised in a religious compound. The library is not part of the story but we do hear this from Alice, “I’d go to a workshop on our new CD-ROM databases, which seemed destined never to function properly, or enter data about the library’s new acquisitions into our new online catalogue, which was also always on the blink, and all I could think about was that I wanted to lie down on the floor behind the circulation desk where no one could see me and take a nap, or maybe cry.” (p. 58). Alice is kind and generous but does not have much imagination.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Barbour, Ralph Henry. A Maid in Arcady (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1906) 213 p. Ill. By Frederic J. von Rapp.
A young man falls in love with Massachusetts librarian Cicely Hoyt in this flowery romance.