Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Cooper, Douglas. Amnesia (New York: Hyperion, c1994) 227 p.
This intensely psychological drama of memory lost and regained presents Izzy Darlow. He is a troubled boy who finds meaning and purpose in the school library. The librarian, Mr. Arrensen, is a silver haired man. “His thin shoulders pushed up to the sides of his neck as he sat down; they pointed toward the ceiling like the folded wings of a bat.” (p. 21). Izzy becomes a librarian too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Coomer, Joe. The Loop (Boston: Faber & Faber, 1992) 201 p.
Fiona (no last name given) is a reference librarian at Tarrant County Junior College. She has traveled around the country working at many libraries along the way. Her specialty is mending and rebinding books. "She was attractive in a pesky way ... at least she seemed to think so. He'd never met a more arrogant person. He'd been using this library for more than ten years, and had found her behind the circulation desk for the first time at the beginning of last semester, a red plastic pin on her blouse announcing: 'Fiona -- Assistant Librarian.' Beneath this another pin: 'Bona fide Bookworm.' Beneath this yet another pin: 'May I help you?' In Fiona's case this last statement was more of a command than a request .... She didn't have the ability to whisper. When she attempted to whisper her words came out in a shrill whistle that caused everyone in the room to wrinkle." She is called upon to help find the origin of a found parrot. She does some research at the Fort Worth Public Library. She and the parrot's owner eventually move to Oregon together.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Cooley, Martha. The Archivist: a Novel (Boston: Little, Brown, 1998) 326 p.
Matthias Lane is the archivist at a great American university library. Matt's responsibilities include a collection of letters from T.S. Eliot to an American woman. He cataloged the collection shortly after assuming his duties as archivist. Now he is the gatekeeper.

As an archivist I have power over other people. I control access to materials they desire. Of course this power has limits. I can't arbitrarily bar from the library someone who is entitled to use it, nor can I prevent materials from entering the collection simply because I don't like their authors or content. Libraries have rules, which librarians follow so that readers can find what they seek. A good archivist serves the reader best by maintaining, throughout the search, a balance between empathy and distance. It is important, I've discovered, to be neither too close to nor too distant from a reader's desire. (p. 246).

Matt's position within the University hierarchy is fairly independent.

My work is whatever I want it to be, and I report to no one regularly. The head librarian -- the man in charge of the University's entire collection -- is a figurehead, well-to-do and poorly read, with whom I have only perfunctory contact. His deputy is Edith Beardon, who supervises several junior librarians. Once a week, over lunch, Edith and I trade news or solicit one another's advice on technical matters. (p. 8).

The Archive is Matt's kingdom and he knows it well.

The Mason Room was peaceful, as it always is at midnight. In a few minutes I heard the books' voices: a low, steady, unsuppressible hum. I'd heard it many times before. I've always had a finely tuned ear for a library's accumulations of echo and desire. Libraries are anything but hushed. (p. 287).

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Converse, Florence. Sphinx (New York: Dutton, c1931) 311 p.
Among a group of tourists in Italy is a “Carnegie librarian from Ohio” named Miss Amy Longstreet.

though she had never been youthful, was still young, and—was she pretty? … dark, reserved; with a prim mouth. Never been kissed. (p. 23).

Miss Longstreet insists on seeing everything mentioned in any guidebook. She visits the great libraries.

All the attendants in all the great libraries of Florence, the Laurentian, the library of San Marco, the Riccardiana, the Nazionale, knew that Miss Longstreet was a librarian and they were all very polite to her. But she wasn't used to feeling at a disadvantage in a library. She didn't like it. The Nazionale, not yet moved from its old place in the loggie degli Uffizi, was the only one in which she felt at all at home with the cataloguing, and even there she found room for improvement. (p. 129).

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Conta, Manfred von. The Deathbringer (London: Calder & Boyars, 1971) 224 p. Translated from the German by Eva Figes. Originally published as Der Totmacher (Zurich: Diogenes Verlag, 1969).
Xaver Ykdrasil Zangl owns a lending library in Vienna. He generally avoids contact with others. "The customers he liked best were those that already knew the title of the book they wanted to borrow. They named the title and he went to fetch the book from the shelves whilst they silently filled in the index card he had pushed towards them. He knew that many customers, who would have liked a chat about books or neighbours with him, were put off by his taciturn manner and did not come back. But this did not bother him." (p. 6). Eventually his only customers are men wanting to borrow books from the "third bookcase" which is filled with pornography. Zangl gradually becomes more and more cut off from reality, and eventually gives all the books away in order to spend all his time writing in his diary. During this period he commits two murders. Toward the end of the story he spends two weeks in the periodical room of the national library, reading philosophy. Weeks afterward he is found in his apartment eating his excrement and smearing it on the walls.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Conrad, James. Making Love to the Minor Poets of Chicago (New York: St. Martins, c2000) 436 p.
Rose Gluck is a librarian at the University of Chicago. She is "known as 'quiet', 'reserved', even 'mousy'" (p. 180). Yet she is an ardent socialist who risks her career for her cause. One of her most difficult jobs at the library is balancing the ever-rising serials budget.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Connolly, Peter K. When Shadows Fell at Notre Dame (New York: iUniverse, c2007) 187 p.
Barbara McCaffrey worked as a librarian at this great university in Indiana until 1946. After being fired for not fitting in she now works at the county library. She is 37 and attractive. She is working on a scheme to embarrass the university. She tells a young student,

First of all, not all librarians, female librarians, can always find solace and satisfaction from a good book and a hot cup of tea. That's Agatha Christie stuff. Some, like me, need physical gratification as well.” (p. 62).

She was fired by Father Thomas Quinn, the Director of the Archives. He is “a short, jovial, middle-aged priest.” (p. 40).

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Connington, J.J. The Castleford Conundrum (Boston: Little, Brown, 1932) 340 p.
Investigating a shooting at a country estate, a police detective looks for clues in the nearby town. The librarian is Mr. Tenbury.

The Chief Librarian of the Strickland Regis public library was an alert little man, full of enthusiasm for his work. His tawny hair, bright eyes, and staccato movements, called up in Wendover's mind the comic simile of a squirrel in horn-rimmed spectacles. (p. 291).

Tenbury has no scruples about handing the police the circulation records of all the estate's residents.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Colton, James. The Outward Side (New York: Hard Candy; Masquerade Books, 1995, c1971) 214 p.
This examination of gay men's experience in small town America features Jerome Howard, librarian in the small town of Ocatillo. He is victimized by teenage boys who have sex with him and then threaten to reveal his secret. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Collins, Max Allan. The Last Quarry (New York: Dorchester, 2006) 201 p.
A hit man is hired to kill Janet Wright, a librarian at Homewood Public Library. Janet is 30, blonde and beautiful. She reads to children at story time. When the hit man meets Janet and her coworker Connie in a bar things get complicated.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Coleridge, Christabel. Miss Lucy: a Character Study (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1908) viii, 327 p.
A young librarian named Kendal Ashford wants to marry Lucy's cousin Lettice.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cohen, Paula Marantz. Jane Austen in Boca (New York: St. Martins, 2002) 258 p.
The lives of Jewish retirees in Boca Raton Florida sometimes resemble a Jane Austen novel. Florence Kliman had worked as a librarian at the University of Chicago, where she became acquainted with Saul Bellow. She loves to read and likes to have books around.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Coelho, Paulo. Eleven Minutes (New York: Perennial, 2005) 273 p. Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa.
Maria, a young Brazilian woman is tricked into a life of prostitution in Switzerland. One day she happens into a public library where the librarian tells her to “forget everything you've been told about books and just read.” (p. 49). The librarian, Heidi, guides and encourages Maria's self-education. They become friends. Heidi in turn, begins to learn more about sex and explore her own sexual nature.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Codrescu, Andrei. Casanova in Bohemia (New York: Free Press, c2002) 321 p.
The aged Giacomo Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, retired to Dux Castle in Bohemia. Here under the patronage of Count Waldstein, he took the position of Librarian. Apart from reading and providing reading material for fellow servants we do not see Casanova's library work. Instead he enjoys life, as is his wont, philosophizes, and writes his memoirs.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Clarke, Arthur C. and Gentry Lee. Rama Revealed (New York: Bantam Books, c1994) 466 p.
An aged woman decides to spend her last hours of life in an alien Knowledge Module, a huge spherical structure dedicated to storing information. It is organized is three concentric spheres and moving sidewalks carry visitors to their areas of interest.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Clarke, Arthur C. Against the Fall of Night (New York: ibooks, 2005) 151 p.
Long after people have forgotten how the marvelous machines they once made work, the Keeper of the Records continues to maintain and explore the vast ancient database of information. Rorden uses a machine called an associator. "If you give it a set of facts, it will hunt through the sum total of human knowledge until it correlates them." (p. 15). 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Clark, Mary Higgins. I Heard That Song Before (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007) 318 p.
Kay Lansing is a librarian at the Englewood, N.J. Public Library. She visits a local millionaire to get help with a fundraiser for the literacy program, but when he asks her to marry him she accepts and quits her job.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Churchill, Winston. Coniston (New York: Macmillan, 1906) 543 p.
One might consider Miss Lucretia Penniman a librarian since she “started the Brampton Social Library, and filled it with such books as both sexes might read with profit.” (p. 8). She later moved to Boston and founded the journal Woman’s Hour. Her principal role in the novel comes when she is sixty five.

Her face, though not at all unpleasant, was a study in character-development: she wore ringlets, a peculiar bonnet of a bygone age, and her clothes had certain eccentricities which, for lack of knowledge must be omitted. In short, the lady was no fool, and not being one she glanced at the giggling group of saleswomen and – wonderful to relate – they stopped giggling. (p. 311).

Miss Lucretia is the voice of morality and justice leading to the satisfactory ending to this barely readable rambling epic.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Churchill, Jill. Mulch Ado About Nothing (New York: Avon Books, 2001) 151 p.
Miss Martha Winstead is a librarian who, as the result of an inheritance, is able to continue library work as a volunteer and devote more time to her lifelong interest in gardening. Miss Winstead knows something about other members of her gardening class because she has helped them at the public library.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Chevalier, Tracy. The Virgin Blue (New York: Plume, 2003) 304 p.
A young American wife new to the south of France tries to make it her home. She goes to the small public library and gets to know the librarian, Jean-Paul Piquemal. "... a sardonic smile on his angular face. About my height, he was wearing black trousers and a white shirt without a tie, buttoned at the collar, sleeves rolled up above his elbows. A love wolf. I smiled to myself: one to avoid." (p. 40). She develops a relationship with Jean-Paul and he helps her research her family history.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Chesterton, G. K. The Return of Don Quixote (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1927) 302 p.
The librarian of Seawood Abbey is an eccentric scholar of Paleo-Hittite civilization named Michael Herne.

The librarian was certainly of the sort that is remote from the daylight, and suited to be a shade among the the shades of a great library. His figure was long and lithe, but he held one shoulder habitually a little higher than the other; his hair was of a dusty lightness. His face was lean and his lineaments long and straight; but his wan blue eyes were a shade wider apart than other men's; increasing an effect of having one eye off. It was indeed rather a weird effect, as if his eye were somewhere else; not in the mere sense of looking elsewhere, but almost as if it were in some other head than his own. And indeed, in a manner, it was; it was in the head of a Hittite ten thousand years ago. (p. 24-25).

When Herne climbs up a very tall ladder to the top of a towering bookcase a visitor plays a trick on him and removes the ladder. But Herne becomes so absorbed in this reading that he forgets to come down and is found perching atop the case the next day, book in hand.

When asked to perform in a play about Richard the Lion Heart, Herne at first declines, saying it is not his period. But then he embarks of a study of medieval history and accepts the roll of Richard. After performing he refuses to remove his costume and works to revolutionize English society by bringing about a return to medieval values.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chabon, Michael. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (New York: Harper & Row, 1989) 297 p.
Phlox Lombardi and Arthur Lecomte both work in the Hillman Library in Pittsburgh. Phlox works at a window behind bars. We glimpse briefly a librarian named Evelyn Masciarelli, "a tiny old thing who had trembled away her life in Hillman Library ...." (p. 45). Later in the story an overdue library book brings the protagonist back to the library to initiate a "search and recovery." "Libraries, I knew, are frequently the haunts of twitching, mumbling paranoid schizophrenics, researching their grandiose conspiracies ...." (p. 256).

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cecil, Henry. Cross Purposes (London: Michael Joseph, 1976) 186 p.
Douglas Barton is the Chief Librarian of the New British Fiction Library. He is struggling to get by on a librarian's salary. We do not get to see him on the job at all, but when his wife wins half a million pounds in a football pool they both prove very level-headed and sensible in managing it.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Casey, Elizabeth Lynn. Sew Deadly (New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2009) 280 p.
 -------. Death Threads (New York: Berkley Prime Crime, 2010) 280 p.

Victoria “Tori” Sinclair came to Sweet Briar, South Carolina from Chicago so she is adjusting to small town life. Her predecessor, Dixie Dunn, who was forced to retire tries to thwart Tori. To bring people together at the public library Tori organizes a ladies' sewing club. Tori is good with children and has plans to create a children's reading room. In the second book, her work with her assistant Nina Morgan, consists mostly of shelving books.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Carr, Josephine. The Dewey Decimal System of Love (New York: New American Library, 2003) 251 p.
Head of the Reference Department at the Free Library of Philadelphia, Allison Sheffield is forty, beautiful and celibate. Suddenly after years of single life she is bowled over with love for the new conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra. This prompts her to volunteer to organize the Orchestra's library. The director of the Free Library is Gordon Albright, a friend and confidant. As Ally tells her story, each chapter is headed with the Dewey Decimal number one might browse for more information on the chapter's topic.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Carr, John Dickson. He Who Whispers: a Dr. Fell Mystery Story (New York: Bantam, 1957) 165 p.
Fay Seton, tall and soft and slender with long red hair, is a young librarian hired to catalog and organize a large private collection of books. The reader focuses less on her library skills and more on her mysterious past, however.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Carlson, Natalie E. Old Murders Never Die (New York: Arcadia House, c1960) 222 p.
Miss Josie Jones, Librarian in Seahaven Conn., narrates the story of how an old woman is found murdered in the library. Josie's assistant, Linda Regan seems to be involved somehow.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Card, Orson Scott. Wyrms (New York: TOR, 1988) 345 p.
On a planet where all the Wise people have been called away and enslaved, a small creature of the race of dwelfs gathers knowledge. Her name is Heffiji. She has a very small brain and cannot retain a thought for more than a few seconds, but she devises a system of writing things down and storing the papers where she knows she can find them later. Heffiji is short for Mikias Mikuam Heffiji Ismar which means Never to Lose the finding place. "That’s me, said Heffiji. I don't know anything but I can find everything." (p. 180).

Heffiji's house is in fact a great library. It is here the heroine of the story gains the information she needs to complete her quest. Heffiji's house finally becomes the center of a great university.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Cannell, Dorothy. How to Murder the Man of Your Dreams (New York: Bantam Books, 1995) 292 p.
The narrator, Ellie Haskell, is a frequenter of the Chitterton Fells Library, and a member of the Library League. Legend has it that the library is haunted by the ghost of a man who felt too much reading had ruined his seven daughters' lives. "Miss Bunch, our stalwart librarian, lived at that desk. Rumour had it that she had been born there -- fully grown, already stout, red-faced, and with her hair cropped to an uncompromising bob. I had it on good authority ... that Miss Bunch did not possess a first name. Doubtless her parents had instantly realized the impropriety of attempting to become too familiar with their offspring.

My knees had a tendency to knock on those occasions when I approached Miss Bunch at her desk -- my arms loaded with books whose overdue status would momentarily be calculated down to a percentage of a second. (p. 10-11).

Miss Bunch is found dead in the stacks. The Library League immediately begins fund raising for an appropriate memorial for her. The new librarian is Mrs. Harris, who is described as a Nazi with razor sharp elbows.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Canfield, Dorothy. Hillsboro People (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1915) 346 p.
The good people of Hillsboro Vermont are happy with their quaint old unprofessional library. Every year they stage an entertainment to raise money for new books which are chosen by consent. The town women take turns acting as librarian. When a millionaire from Chicago decides to give them a new and modern library all that changes. An architect is hired to design and build the new Hillsboro Camden Public Library, and Miss Martin, a young librarian from Albany is hired.

She was a very pretty librarian indeed, and she wore her tailor suits with an air which made the village girls look uneasily into their mirrors and made the village boys look after her as she passed. She was moreover as permeated with the missionary fervor instilled into her at the Library School as she was pretty, and she began at once to practice all the latest devices for automatically turning a benighted community into the latest thing in culture. When Mrs. Bradlaugh, wife of the deacon, and president of the Ladies' Aid Society, was confined to the house with a cold, she sent over to the library, as was her wont in such cases, for some entertaining story to while away her tedious convalescence. Miss Martin sent back one of Henry James's novels, and was surprised that Mrs. Bradlaugh made no second attempt to use the library. When the little girls in school asked for the Elsie books, she answered with a glow of pride that the library did not possess one of those silly stories, and offered as substitute, 'Greek Myths for Children.'
Squire Pritchett came, in a great hurry, one morning, and asked for his favorite condensed handbook of geology, in order to identify a stone. He was told that it was entirely out of date and very incomplete, and the library did not own it, and he was referred to the drawer in the card catalogue relating to geology. For a time his stubbed old fingers rambled among the cards, with an ever-rising flood of baffled exasperation. How could he tell by looking at a strange name on a little piece of paper whether the book it represented would tell him about a stone out of his gravel-pit! Finally he appealed to the librarian, who proclaimed on all occasions her eagerness to help inquirers, and she referred him to a handsome great Encyclopedia of Geology in forty-seven volumes. he wandered around hopelessly in this for about an hour, and in the end retreated unenlightened. Miss Martin tried to help him in his search, but, half amused by his rustic ignorance, she asked him finally, with an air of gentle patience, 'how, if he didn't know any of the scientific names, he expected to be able to look up a subject in an alphabetically arranged book?' Squire Pritchett never entered the library again. (p. 197-99).

Another story concerns Jeroboam Mordecai Atterworthy, who left his village to attend Middletown College, and stayed there as the College Librarian the rest of his life.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Cameron, Eleanor. The Unheard Music (Boston: Atlantic; Little, Brown, 1950) 278 p.
The central character of this complex novel is Jane Fielding. Jane works at the St. Albans library where she interacts with many townsfolk and coworkers. The library is mainly described by its smell.

He felt, rather than pictured in his imagination, the golden afternoon light filling the high-ceilinged room with its two ells extending away behind him on either hand as he stood at the desk facing her. He smelled the unforgettable, closed-in smell of the library, a queer mixture of the varnish they used on the cork covering of the floor, of dust faintly, of the books, the print, the soiled paper that had been turned a million times by a million grimy thumbs.
The library had smelled like that ever since he could remember, because it was old and musty and had grown dirty in the corners during all these years. (p. 25).

Jane's take on the library smell includes “the faint reminder of the men's public rest room under the stairway.” (p. 67).

Jane is friends with the head librarian, “Toppy,” Mrs. Topping. Because of this Maud Coombs feels Jane is able to slack off on her work. Other employees include the childrens librarian Phoebe Tripp, G.A., Timothy (who wants to marry Jane), and Claude. Jane suspects she will be offered the job of head librarian when Toppy retires but does not feel up to the challenges. The dingy smelly old building needs repairs. The library board is always cutting the budget and refusing salary raises. She mostly feels inadequate to the task of maintaining equanimity while dealing with all the emotional needs of the library staff.