Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cambor, Kathleen. In Sunlight, in a Beautiful Garden (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001) 258 p.
Grace McIntyre attended Radcliffe and trained as a librarian. She was hired right out of college by Harvard. She was stifled by her life in Boston though, and in 1881 slipped away from her husband and took a job in Johnstown, Pennsylvania as the assistant librarian. She helped the aging Mrs. Hirst in organizing a new library stocked with 7,000 new books.

Grace is tall and pretty with full lips and a wide generous mouth. She tutors a young boy in Greek and then becomes friends with his mother and his father.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Callander, Don. Dragon Companion (New York: Ace Books, 1994) 321 p.
Tom Whitehead, a librarian at the Library of Congress, suddenly finds himself one day in a world of dragons and wizards. He is befriended by a dragon and gets a job as Librarian for the local lord, Murdan the Historian. He reorganizes the castle archives. He also impresses everyone with his ability to find information and find non-magical solutions to difficult problems. Tom's adventures continue in Dragon Rescue (New York: Ace, 1995) and Dragon Tempest (New York: Ace, 1998).

Friday, July 29, 2016

Calderón, Emilio. The Creator's Map (New York: Penguin, 2008) 259 p. Originally published in Spanish as El Mapa del Creador (Barcelona: Roca, 2006) translated by Katherine Silver.
In 1937 the Spanish Academy in Rome is being run by the secretary of the Spanish embassy. Secretary Olarra is a graduate of the Vatican School of Library Science, but he neglects the Spanish Academy library in order to concentrate on translating the Vatican Library cataloging rules into Spanish. The Academy students sell off valuable books from the library to raise money. One of these students, Montserrat (called “Montse”) is later hired as a librarian at the Palazzo Corsini. Father Giordano Sansovino is a librarian at the Vatican Library. He explains a problem with the library.

...the library contains more than a million and a half volumes, a hundred fifty thousand manuscripts, as many maps, and sixty thousand codices in about thirty collections. Out of all of that, we know the contents of only about five thousand, even though we've been cataloging since 1902. One person cannot catalog more than ten a year. It takes a long time to read, check, systemize their contents, so it will be another century before we can know what is really hiding in the Vatican Library. (p. 80).

This is why the library is the perfect place to hide documents.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Byatt, A.S. Possession: a Romance (New York: Random House, 1990) 555 p.
Libraries are never far from center stage in this tale of literary scholarship. A young scholar makes a surprising discovery in the Reading Room of the London Library. Beatrice Nest is a librarian of sorts, being keeper of a collection of literary papers.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Busch, Frederick. Invisible Mending (Boston: David R. Godine, 1984) 277 p.
Rhona Glinsky is a librarian at a branch of the New York Public Library. Her research skills come in handy as she hunts for Nazi war criminals.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Burr, Anna Robeson. The Jessop Bequest (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1907) 401 p.
Although a librarian is not named the local public library provides the setting for the meeting of two protagonists.

The Chillingworth Library had successfully resisted all attempts at modernization. From the building itself, a gray, palladian structure standing back from the street in a weedy waste of garden, to the old-fashioned stands and tables within, everything about it marked a slumbering defiance of progressive methods. Books were still its main furnishing, contrary to that modern custom which provides a library interior only with desks, chairs, tablets, green lampshades, and frescoes. Here, instead of filling out a slip asking your age, name, income, creed, weight, and degree of myopia, which you deposit in a pneumatic tube, to receive in return a predigested tabloid volume such as library authorities consider befits your case, – here, persons of ripe age and established morals were permitted to browse undisturbed over the shelves. It is true you might or might not find the book of which you were in search; but at least you spent a desultory and agreeable half-hour.
The catalogue methods of the Chillingworth library were such as to discourage culture. There was a catalogue, a time-worn volume in microscopic print, wherein “The Autobiography of Leigh Hunt” was listed under “Anonymous,” and Swedenborg's “Heaven and Hell” under “Works of Imagination and Fancy.” This superannuated authority was backed up by a few drawers of cards, in which the letter K stood represented by “Keats, John, Life & Works of, 61,107,590 AB, 2.” If you could remember this number and send it in, you might be quite sure of receiving a copy of “Elsie Dinsmore.” Repeated trials destroyed your confidence in catalogics, if there is such a science, so you usually preferred to hunt your book yourself. Such a hunt brought other game besides your quarry. You wondered who it was kept out “The Mysteries of Udolpho,” that prodigious monument of dullness, or why “The Anatomy of Melancholy” was placed in the medical section.
It was only the really busy, however, who complained, and it is conceded a library is no place for them. The society in its walls is the only leisure class in the world; its inmates have all time at their backs; and we have no business to affront them by our hurried counting of moments. One grew attached to the very faults of this place, to its dusty, dusky, dingy interior. The main room was not large, with twisted iron staircases running up to the book galleries. There were battered, old-fashioned tables and book stands; dingy plaster busts of Shakespeare and Sophocles, fly-specked water-colors of revolutionary battles. Behind the counter presided an exhausted librarian, who seemed tacitly to echo the weary cry of King Solomon. (p. 59-60).

This is where young Diana Jessop, who has aspirations beyond small town life, comes to refresh her mind.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Burks, Allison L. Tight Rope (London: William Heinemann, 1947) 191 p.
A young woman is hired to stand in for a dead heiress in the California seaside town of Trentville. To relax she likes to visit the local circulating library. She becomes friends with the librarian, Anne Delahay. “She had soft fair hair, wide grey eyes and a low clear voice.” (p. 7). 

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Browne, Marshall. Inspector Anders and the Ship of Fools (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2002) 320 p.
On the trail of European terrorists, Interpol detectives consult documents in the Libraire Kleber in Strasbourg. “He clanked upwards caged in iron and brass, and entered a huge room which appeared to take up most of the second floor – a mezzanine overlooked it. Aisles of bookshelves ranged away, creaking with book-weight, smelling of old leather. Under-funded and municipal…. Largely devoid of human beings. Though scores could’ve been beavering silently away in the maze-like aisles.” (p. 85). The librarian, Dr. Marguerite Dauban, was “about thirty-seven. A face the creamy hue of gardenias, devoid of cosmetics. Yes, careless hair, nonetheless a faint perfume emanating from it. Her mouth was as straightforward, humanitarian, and commonsense as Anders had ever seen.” (p. 86). Dr. Dauban lets Inspector Anders study the library’s 1499 edition of The Ship of Fools. As Inspector Anders works with this “woman of both sharp comments and soft looks” (p. 142), he becomes attracted to her and she to him.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Browne, Douglas G. Death in Seven Volumes (London: MacDonald, 1958) 192 p.
Roger Gournay is the Librarian of the London Library. When he discovers that some obscure philosophy books have been replaced with non-library copies he consults the police and an investigation is launched. It turns out that someone has inserted a coded message into the library set. One of those mysterious chases through the stacks occurs on p. 120-28.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Brown, Eleanor. The Weird Sisters (New York: Amy Einhorn Books, c2011) 320 p.
Three daughters of a Shakespearean scholar are named Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia Andreas. As children they pull their little red wagon to the library every week because they love to read. When the girls, now grown, come home to be with their dying Mother, Bianca (known as Bean) visits the library again.

Mrs. Landrige, the librarian who had been here in the red-wagon days, had been white-haired and stooped even then, but Bean could see her at the desk, stamping library cards with a patient hand. Bean felt a rush of sweet nostalgia for the woman who had introduced us to E. Nesbit and Edward Eager and Laura Ingalls Wilder, and she found herself desperately wanting to give the old woman a hug, not that Mrs. Landrige would have trucked with that. Mrs. Landrige, as a point of fact, didn't truck with much. (p. 47).

Later Mrs. Landrige asks Bean to stand in as librarian temporarily while she goes in for a hip replacement.

But I don't know anything about it. I mean, I don't have the right degree.”
Mrs. Landrige, had she worn glasses, would have looked over the rims at Bean. “Don't be ridiculous. It's the Barnwell Public Library, not the Library of Congress. You've been coming here since before you could walk, and I trust you implicitly. (p. 181).

So Bean becomes the Barnwell (which she thinks of as Barney) librarian. Her first act is to buy computers and automate.

Bean sat down at the desk and pulled a long drawer of the card catalog over to her. She could do nothing to change Barney, she knew. Turning the blond wood of the card catalog into the binary code of a computer catalog was only cosmetic, would alter nothing at the heart of the town, which would still creep in this petty pace from day to day to the last syllable of recorded time, but she could change her place in it. (p. 311).

I don't know what ever happened to Mrs. Landrige.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Brown, Dan. The Da Vinci Code (New York: Doubleday, 2003) 454 p.
Seekers of the Holy Grail are aided by librarian Pamela Gettum at King’s College Department of Theology and Religious Studies in London. A large database of theological texts have been digitized and Ms. Gettum expertly queries the database to extract the needed information. “She had a genial, erudite face and a pleasingly fluid voice. The horn-rimmed glasses hanging around her neck were thick.” (p. 377). The database search illustrates that these searches do not always show what you expect to find. She also serves her clients tea as they study their results.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Brooks, Geraldine. People of the Book (New York: Viking, c2008) 372 p.
Doctor Ozren Karaman is "chief librarian of the National Museum and professor of librarianship at the National University of Bosnia" (p. 16). He saves a beautiful illuminated haggadah from the library as it is being bombed during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992. He is a thin young man in faded blue jeans with green eyes and unruly curls. He is sad about all the books he could not save which were destroyed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Brookner, Anita. Leaving Home (New York: Random House, 2005) 212 p.
A young English woman, in Paris to study gardening history, becomes friends with a young French woman at the library.
Françoise, my essential point of reference in this strange enterprise—which I found benign but increasingly unrealistic—was not at her station behind the catalogues but was clearly audible in the stacks, undeterred by the anguished 'Mademoiselle!' from M. Bonfils, the librarian, who decreed a monastic quiet for the benefit of his readers. Françoise ignored this and was, if anything, applauded for her flouting of correct procedure, was indeed greeted with a loving smile by the elderly scholars to whose desks she delivered the bulky volumes from which they derived those facts which would enable them to create bulky volumes of their own.We had become co-conspirators, clearly but wordlessly allied in our unspoken desire to subvert the solemnity of the reading-room. On the surface she merely provided me with those pattern books and prints which I studied with the utmost application and docility, until the darkening sky beyond the tall windows signalled the end of the working day, but behind our apparent rectitude we were alike in experiencing a form of anarchy which was, if anything, directed towards those innocent bent heads which I knew were serious, admirable, dedicated, but which I was in no hurry to resemble." (p. 20-21). 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Brookner, Anita. Lewis Percy (New York: Pantheon, 1989) 261 p.
Lewis is a young man who hopes for more excitement but resigns himself to his fate of working in a college library in London. The only thing we know about his job is that he indexes journal articles by hand on 3 x 5 cards. His supervisor is the Head Librarian, Arnold Goldsborough. Goldsborough is a bit of a comic figure who is old and fat and hesitates to take responsibility for making changes in the routine (e.g. typing the index cards rather than writing them by hand. Near the end of the novel, Goldsborough gets all excited about computers and decides to automate the library. Lewis' coworker and friend is Penry Douglas. Another character at the library is Arthur Tooth "a long-retired librarian and actual retainer, [he] ranged with crab-like slowness round the stacks, shelving the books: there was no getting rid of him.... The work could have been done in an hour by a person of normal vigour ..." (p. 127). Lewis meets Tissy Harper at the local public library and eventually they get married. As in Brookner's earlier novel Look at Me, the library is the setting of the protagonist's mundane life. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Brookner, Anita. Look At Me (New York: Pantheon, 1983) 192 p.
This is an intensely psychological story about a woman who works in a medical library which specializes in graphic representations of mental illness. Frances Hinton's job is to order photographs and mount them on cardboard and file them. The Librarian is Dr. Leventhal: "He is the sort of man who only breaks his own silence in order to utter a derogatory remark. But he is otherwise quite harmless. I would not say that we were genuinely fond of him (that would hardly be appropriate) but he is easy to work for, a mild, heavy man, probably shy, probably lonely, very correct, easily tolerated. We all get on very well." (p. 11).

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bronx, Lee. Uncle U the Ridiculous Librarian: a Humorous-Satirical Novel (New York: Copen Press, 1977) 81 p.
The staff and daily life of a technical services department of a New York university come to life in this account. It is so realistic I suspect it is a description of a real place. I further suspect that the author is the “Chinese nephew” mentioned as a staff member. At any rate the author's first language is clearly not English.
Uncle U is the eccentric Chief of Cataloging. He is imperious, demanding absolute obedience to his instructions. He constantly finds fault with the work of his “nieces and nephews.” He demands silence at all times. Aunt Matahari presides over the Periodicals Section. She does not like to supervise men and so only hires “nieces.” Like Uncle U she is always in the right even though she does not seem to understand the basics of library work.

The head of the department is a man named Tim who has a severe stutter. To overcome this he speaks very loud. For this reason the staff call him Uncle Honky. Life is hard for all the unprofessional “nieces and nephews” who do all the work and get none of the credit.  

Friday, July 15, 2016

Bristow, Gwen and Bruce Manning. The Gutenberg Murders (New York: The Mystery League, 1931) 275 p.
The Muriel Sheldon Memorial Library in New Orleans acquires nine leaves from the Gutenberg Bible. The head librarian, Dr. Prentiss, is convinced the fragment is authentic while the library’s head trustee believes it to be a forgery. Soon afterward Assistant Librarian Quentin Ulman is murdered. Ulman, a handsome young professional had already published three books on book collecting. Dr. Prentiss was “tall and slender, with a droop to his shoulders that suggested much bending over a desk and long delicate hands that seemed made for caressing the crumbly pages of old books. His white hair waved back from a high, commanding forehead, and his gray eyes were at once piercing and contemplative; an odd mixture of shyness and arrogance, he looked like a man with a passion for supremacy but at the same time one who had the born aristocrat’s dislike of indiscriminate contacts.” (p. 43).

Prentiss’ secretary is Luke Dancy, a young man who speaks with a British accent but reverts to Texan when under stress.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Briscoe, Peter. The Best Read Man in France: a Cautionary Tale ([S.l.]: Borgo Press, c2007) 119 p.
This story has a message: that librarians are the guardians of precious and sometimes irreplaceable books. A rare book dealer who buys and sells with libraries all over the world bemoans the trend toward digitization which often involves the destruction of bindings that will never be mended. Nevertheless he becomes romantically involved with Elizabeth Wyatt, the Digital Resources Librarian at a large American University. When the dealer begins a public protest he finds he is not alone.

The next morning he was at the door of the library. To his astonishment he was soon joined by another picketer, a tall, thin, scraggly-bearded graduate student in English. His sign read:


Michael was overjoyed by the support, but thought the sign might be going a little too far. The student replied, “No, no, it's an old controversy. In the eighteenth century Edward Young said:

Unlearned men of books assume the care,
As eunuchs are the guardians of the fair.

“Well, I would hardly call librarians ignorant. Many of them hold advanced degrees.”
“True, but something has gone awry in Libraryland. I have an inside source, who shall remain nameless, but who fills me in. The modern librarian is basically a shill for the Info Industry. It's a shame that taxpayers and tuition payers still have to bear the cost of their salaries, which more properly should be paid by their corporate masters. Their so-called business and contract negotiations with predatory electronic publishers for obscenely expensive databases, electronic journals, and e-books are little more than mating rituals. But in the end there's no question who remains the dominant partner flying ever higher, and who's left to sit on the eggs.” (p. 94-95).

This modern action is compared with the experience of the seventeenth century French librarian Gabriel Naudé. He assembled the finest library of the time for his master Cardinal Mazarin only to see it dismantled and sold by the Cardinal's enemies.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Brink, André. The Rights of Desire (New York: Harcourt, 2000) 311 p.
Ruben Olivier, a retired librarian in post-Apartheid Cape Town, lives alone with his books.

The deeply satisfying sublimation of traveling through the pages of books. Which never let you down, never say no, never offer a cold shoulder. And custom cannot stale their infinite variety, Oh, not that books are ‘easy’! They may be very demanding., they may play hard to get, they may not open themselves to exploration unless you’re prepared to offer everything in return. But if you do, how abundant the reward. Foreplay, fullplay, afterplay, endgame, all, the ultimate consummation devoutly to be wish’d. And then you dare to ask me what I do for sex? (p. 23).

Ruben has found a refuge in books ever since he was locked into a library overnight as a child. And more so since his wife died.

Ruben was forced to retire early from his job at The University of Cape Town in favor of a black replacement.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Brinig, Myron. The Sun Sets in the West (New York: Farrar & Rinehart, c1935) 360 p.
In the western mining town of Copper City many interesting stories are to be found. One concerns Gertrude Fields, the town librarian.

She was a slender, virginal spinster of forty with flower-like blue eyes and the soft pale complexion of a madonna. She was frail and alone and mysterious. (p. 16).

Miss Fields is attracted to a young man who loves books as much as herself. He in turn is attracted to her but the town is scandalized when he is seen going frequently to her apartment.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Brean, Herbert. A Matter of Fact (New York: William Morrow, 1956) 245 p.
Rosemary Derby loses her job as librarian at the Fortunatus Club in New York City when her brother is convicted of murder. She is a “dark-blond, small-breasted dame with … tight lips and critical air” (p. 176).

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Braun, Lilian Jackson. The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare (New York: Jove Books, 1988) 249 p.
Polly Duncan is introduced in this mystery and appears in subsequent “Cat who …” books.

She’s a lovely person, Mr. Q, and just the right age for you, if you don’t mind me saying so. She has a lot of personality for a librarian.”
“It’s a new trend,” he said. “Libraries now have fewer books but a lot of audiovisuals … and champagne parties … and personality all over the place.” (p. 32).

Polly is the head librarian in the small northern town of Pickaxe, and she knows her Shakespeare.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Brandon, Beatrice. The Court of Silver Shadows (New York: Doubleday, 1980) 305 p.
Sablecroft Hall, near Petersburg, Florida is the home of an eccentric family in possession of an enormous library on the subject of cinema. In need of a librarian to organize and catalog the collection, they hire Laurel Warrick, a recent MLS graduate from Connecticut. Laurel comes with her cat to live in the house with this strange family and catalog their books. "I, being a librarian, just love to grind," I said. "To drudge, to swot, to plunge myself into monotony, what glee!" (p. 100).

Friday, July 8, 2016

Braine, John. The Jealous God (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1964) 286 p.
Vincent Dungarvan enjoys being in the Charbury (northern England) Public Library. “The Reference Department, a large circular room with radiating bookshelves, had always been one of the places in which he could find what was, when he came to think of it, literally a kind of sanctuary. It was a place where no one could make any demands on him, it was a place where, more often than not, he would simply sit still, a pen in his hand, not thinking, not even sometimes aware of himself as a person. There was nothing to distract the eye and nothing to offend it: only the books and the huge mahogany tables and the catalogue cabinets and the service counter. You emptied your mind of the irrelevant, you sat there quietly and then sometimes, there was a glimpse of the relevant.” (p. 66). He falls in love with a warm, intelligent, attractive librarian named Laura Heycliff.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Bradley, Carol W. Miss Pinn: the Case of the Missing Librarian (San Francisco: Bird in Hand Press, 1975.) Linoleum cut illustrations by Bruce Wm. Bradley. [22] p. No. 190 of a 200-copy edition.
"Miss Elvira Pinn was an efficient, but slightly absent-minded librarian." When she disappears Mr. Broome the janitor and Mrs. Pagge the Head Librarian (who knows exactly where every book is located) go looking for her. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Bradbury, Ray. Something Wicked This Way Comes (New York: Bantam, 1963, c1962) 215 p.
Charles Halloway is the Janitor of the Green Town, Illinois Town Library. His son Will and Will's friend Jim discover an evil force in a traveling carnival. Charles finds information about the carnival in the library (p. 135-38). The librarian is Miss Watriss, "the nice old lady [who] purple stamped your books" (p. 11). A Miss Wills is mentioned as the other librarian, but neither of them enter into the story. The evil Mr. Dark comes searching for Halloway and the boys in the darkened and labyrinthine library (p. 154-66).

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Bracken, C.P. Roman Ring ([London: Cassell, 1968]) 169 p. Cassell Crime.
My copy lacks a title page so the publication information above comes from the Library of Congress online catalog.

A criminal organization in Italy steals rare books from libraries. One of them is a former librarian named Mario Signarelli. He steals books from a library in Rome called the Cantal. I can't find any evidence that such a place exists. Another theft takes place at St. Paul's College, where the book catalog is altered to reflect the worthless books that were substituted for the rare ones taken.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bowes, Barry. Between the Stacks (London: Jay Landesman, 1979) 192 p.
Everyday life at the Pike Lane (North London) Branch Library is the subject of this amusing novel. The staff includes librarian Andy Egge, children's librarian Gail Marsden, and music librarian Phil Fellowes

Gay by inclination, and morose by nature. If Gail is the penguin, Phil, with his sharp features, pale skin, spectacles and black Van Dyck beard, is the stork. When they happen to be walking side-by-side you can't help wondering if they will embark on some strange dance like something from the world of Edward Lear. (p. 9).

The library assistants are Mick Inkerman, Liz Lamble, Marianne, Mr. Knox, Gary Clee, and Rina O'Rourke ("Non-professional staff can also be shunted from branch to branch, but it doesn't affect their career prospects; they don't have any." p. 104). The narrator, who fails to tell us his name, is the senior assistant librarian. The staff must endure every imaginable library ordeal: book thieves, vandals, a leaky roof, would-be censors, would-be book donors, drunks, teeth grinders, "nutters," The Smeller, The Surveyor (so named because all he does is sit and look around), and the Phantom Farter, to name but a few. The narrator writes an article analyzing different types of book browsers: "Selection from the lower shelves necessitates much crouching. Readers who spot something a little further on, at the same level, will perform a duck waddle, with a book clamped between the knees or resting on one thigh." (p. 139). The book is full of wry observations on the life of librarians, as, "For years we librarians have hovered in the background, casting short shadows and envious eyes towards civil servants. Status is a problem. At one time we may have just crept into the same category of respectability as teachers, bank managers, doctors and solicitors. This was to say, a librarian was beyond reproach because he was in no position to indulge in graft, corruption, immorality or smoking. There aren't many of us ruined by the fruits of affluence." (p. 5-6).

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Bosse, Malcolm. The Man Who Loved Zoos (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1974) 184 p.
Warren Shore, a disturbed Vietnam veteran, robs a busload of dead people. His Aunt Victoria, a librarian, solves the mystery.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Borthwick, J.S. The Student Body (New York: St. Martin's, 1986) 293 p.
The Starbox Library at Bowmouth College plays a tangential role in this mystery. We briefly meet the director Dr. Threadgill, an assistant librarian named Miss Pierre who mentions that she was "working late on returns" (p. 272), and someone described as "an elderly Miss Murstone type" (p. 245).

Friday, July 1, 2016

Bonnamy, Francis. Dead Reckoning (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1943) 248 p.
The Map Division of the Library of Congress is the scene of murder and a search for a pirate's treasure map. Miss Arabella Fly, aged forty-something, tries to attract the attention of single men as she does her work in the Map Division.

The familiar stacks in the cellar of the Library of Congress stood sinister in their dusty quiet. Horrors seemed to lurk behind each wall of books as she made her way toward the little circular iron stairway that led up two flights to the Map Division. The bare light bulbs gleamed far apart; each meager pool of light thinned at the edges to a dirty gray. Only her heel taps echoed in the silence. If anyone were waiting for her behind that farthest stack, he'd be all set with her heels beating a warning. Like belling a cat.

It was terribly lonely down here, really. That Mr. Rivers in the Semantics Division said once there were corners in this pile where a body could lie undisturbed for months. Her body, maybe. (p. 3-4).