Monday, October 31, 2016

Dutourd, Jean. The Horrors of Love (Garden City, N.Y: Doubleday, 1967) 665 p. Translated from the French by Robin Chancellor. Originally published as Les Horreurs de L’amour (Paris: Gallimard, 1963).
Two friends discuss a womanizing mutual friend, Roberti. One of his affairs is with Odile who worked in a library. “Extremely well turned out. Immaculate hands and glossy hair. She must have been about twenty-eight or thirty. Semi-intellectual, very taken up with the things it was smart to admire. A progressive, as should be. Which didn’t prevent her from being flattered by the attentions of a Radical deputy. For her, too, Roberti was a rarity. Her collection consisted mainly of painters without talent, journalists and (fitfully) university students.” (p. 90). Odile jilts Roberti and marries another man.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Dunning, John. The Bookman’s Promise (New York: Scribner, 2004) 369 p.
Coco Bujak is a retired librarian who volunteers at a nursing home. She gets to know people and writes their stories. Sometimes she hypnotizes them to get at hidden memories. She does some research in Charleston to help solve a mystery.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dumas, Alexandre. Le Chevalier D’Harmental (Boston: Little, Brown, 1893) 526 p.
The young Jean Buvat though quite stupid possesses extraordinary penmanship skills. Through a friend’s influence he procures a place in the manuscript department of the royal library. He works loyally and diligently even when the pay clerk tells him month after month that there is no money in the royal treasury. Still he works for five years without salary.


This work consisted, as usual, in classifying and labeling books. A fire having broken out a few days previously in one of the halls of the library, three or four thousand volumes had been carried out of reach of the flames, and thrown down promiscuously on the floor, and were now to be restored to their proper places. As it was a particularly tedious business, Buvat had been selected for it, and had hitherto acquitted himself with an intelligence and assiduity which had gained for him the commendations of his superiors, and the raillery of his colleagues. (p. 362).

Friday, October 28, 2016

Du Maurier, Daphne. The Flight of the Falcon (New York: Doubleday, 1965) 253 p.
Armino Fabbio finds a temporary job in the Library of the University of Ruffano. The Librarian's name is Giuseppe Fossi and he is "short, stout, with an olive-green complexion and the wandering, bulging eye I associate with clandestine appointments." (p. 58). Fossi is sometimes a comic figure as he chases after a beautiful woman named Carla Raspa. Armino's job at the library consists of sorting books that belong to the university from those belonging to the ducal palace.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Drake, David. With the Lightnings (Riverdale, NY: Baen, 1999) 400 p.
Young and beautiful, Adele Mundy has attained the position of Librarian to the Elector of the planet Kostroma. Her job is to organize the library which consists of crates of books in a bare room. Adele is organized and is an expert information gatherer, a skill which is useful beyond the bounds of the library.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Doyon, Stephanie. The Greatest Man in Cedar Hole (New York: Simon & Schuster, c2005) 375 p.
Kitty Higgins is Cedar Hole's librarian. She prefers not to shush unruly children.

Instead, Kitty enforced her rule with a quiet dignity—she allowed three consecutive violations before sitting at her old pine desk to type curt (but polite) letters to the offending families, informing them that their children were not to return without adult supervision (expressly defined therein as a parent or legal guardian and not a slightly older but equally rambunctious sibling). (p. 32).


Kitty takes young Robert under her wing and soon the bright and energetic lad is helping her type her letters. When Robert grows up and becomes a newspaper journalist he continues to promote the Cedar Hole Library. His final gesture is to have a beautiful desk custom built for Kitty Higgins.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Downs, Anne Miller. So Stands the Rock (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, c1939) 341 p.
Miss Matilda Lawrence is a teacher and librarian in the village of Winston, Vermont. When a poor farmer wants to read books to improve his mind Tilly gets books for him and encourages him. Later she invests in a printing press so he can edit and print Winston's first newspaper.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Douglas, Laramee. A Death in Dulcinea (Victoria, Tex.: Alligator Tree Press, c2005) 233 p.
Darby Matheson is the retired school librarian in Dulcinea Texas. “... the last time I wore a size six, I also wore pigtails and played jacks on the sidewalk. I tried to get down to a size ten once, but the diet caused my fingernails to break, and my hair looked like a hairball coughed up by one of my cats; so for health reasons, I keep my weight hovering around one-sixty. On my five-foot frame that makes me just a tad on the non-svelte side.” (p. 7).
Her library experience makes her ideal for solving mysteries.

I'm a librarian for crying out loud. Do you know how many times students have walked into my library and said, 'I need a book'? That's what I get to start with. 'I need a book.' My job for the past twenty-five years has been to discover exactly what that child needed, and I did it by asking questions. (p. 81).


Darby also compares the reference interview with fishing: getting the hook into her student and letting him run with the line for a while, then reeling him in.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Douglas, Kirk. Last Tango in Brooklyn (New York: Warner Books, 1994) 340 p.
Yes, Kirk Douglas the actor. Ellen Riccio is the Medical Librarian at St. Joseph's Hospital in Brooklyn. We don't get to see much of her work in the library, but she is helping her boyfriend, a heart surgeon, do research for a book he hopes to publish. Ellen is five-foot-six with a "tomboy frame." "She knew men found her attractive. She looked a great deal younger than thirty-four with her smooth, round face, large hazel eyes, and shoulder-length, dark brown hair." (p. 20-21). When she does a MedLine search her fingers quickly dance over the keyboard. Ellen is full of life and fun, and she has a well-developed sense of humor. She regularly feeds a group of homeless men.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Dolson, Hildegarde. Please Omit Funeral (New York: Lippincott, 1975) 182 p.
Censorship strikes Wingate, Connecticut when a citizen decides there are too many "dirty" books at the Wingate High School library. The librarian, Miss Marcy Coving, is young and beautiful. She is often seen at the beach in a bikini. She is "quick and graceful." "her hair, which was the pale yellow of a newly sliced moon, was pulled back severely and tied in a hank. On her, it didn't look severe." (p. 4).

She remembered an ex-English Lit teacher she'd met in library school. The woman had told her emotionally, "they wanted me to teach a course in the Modern Novel--to relate to the present. I'd have had to stand up there and talk to the students as if I considered this dreadful modern stuff literature. And I couldn't do it, I simply couldn't. So I'm going to be a librarian."
The logic, or illogic, of it had fascinated Marcy. "But those same books will be in a library."
And the woman had said on a note of triumph, "All I'll have to do is check them in and out. I won't have to read them or talk about them." (p. 134).


Marcy simply believes in the "right to read" and resolves to replace books which are burned by an indignant parent.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Doig, Ivan. Work Song (New York: Riverhead Books, 2010) 275 p.
In the years after the First World War Butte Montana was the copper mining capital of the world. The Anaconda Mining Company does not want labor unions threatening their profits but the miners want a fair wage and safe working conditions.

Into this hostile atmosphere walks Morrie Morgan looking for a job. He finds one at the Butte Public Library. The library is run by Samuel S. Sandison, an ex-rancher with a passion for books. Sandison is eccentric and difficult to work with but has built the best library west of Chicago. He is assisted by colleagues with more traditional qualifications. Miss Runyon is the matron of the Reading Room. “Clapping her chained eyeglasses onto her formidable nose, she directed: 'Come along, you had better know the cataloguing system.'” (p. 54). The staff also includes young Smithers on the periodicals desk and the flirty Miss Mitchell from the cataloguing section.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Doderer, Heimito von. The Demons (New York: Knopf, 1961) 2 v., 1334 p. Translated from the German by Richard and Clara Winston.
A young factory worker in Vienna named Leonhard Kakabsa decides to learn Latin. He buys a Latin grammar and drills himself diligently. This activity has the unexpected benefit of developing a “greater skill in the manipulation and separation of ideas” (p. 577). One day he realizes he can read Latin and that he thinks as an educated man.
Leonhard begins to frequent the university library where he develops a friendship with a young scholar named RenĂ© Stangeler. Later, Stangeler is invited to Castle Neudegg by it’s owner, Prince Jan Herzka. Stangeler so impresses Herzka with his translation of a medieval manuscript that he offers him the position of librarian at Neudegg.

Kakabsa meets Prince Alfons Croix who is immediately impressed by the former’s intelligence. Croix tells Kakabsa, “I have long been searching for a librarian. I don’t want a middle-class academician reeking of general education. I want someone with native wit—he can go ahead and study and attain his doctorate—of course at my expense and with my assistance.” (p. 1101). And so Leonhard Kakabsa moves into a suite of rooms at the Palais Croix to take up his duties as librarian.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Dobson, Joanne. The Maltese Manuscript (Scottsdale, AZ: Poisoned Pen Press, 2003) 275 p.
Enfield College's library boasts a fabulous collection of detective fiction. Curator of Special Collections Rachel Thompson is "tall and full bodied" (p. 26), "Live, vivid" (p. 267). She is trying to keep it quiet that the library has lost five hundred thousand dollars worth of rare first editions and manuscripts including a draft of The Maltese Falcon with Dashiell Hammett's handwritten corrections. But when a scholar is found dead in the closed stacks the police investigate.
Librarian Nellie Applegate is just the opposite of Rachel. She is "small, dry as dust" (p. 28), an "insubstantial wraith" (p. 267). She also plays her part in the mysterious goings on at the library. But the crucial investigation is carried out by a professor and a mystery writer when they break into the library.

Row after row of tall shelves stretched back into the shadows seemingly into infinity. I had a sudden eerie sense of disconnection from the present, as if we had somehow escaped the confines of time and matter and entered simultaneously into all the worlds pressed in ink and bound into these volumes, as if we had penetrated the collective consciousness of brains long since reduced to scattered molecules of insensate matter. (p. 237).


This magical mystical world becomes the scene of denouement.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Doctorow, E.L. Ragtime (New York: Bantam Books, 1976) 369 p.
The J. Pierpont Morgan Library is occupied by a group of black terrorists seeking justice for a black man who was harassed by a group of racist volunteer fire fighters.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dickens, Charles. Martin Chuzzlewit (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1951) 841 p.
Tom Pinch (p. 605-617) is mysteriously and anonymously given a job cataloging a private library.


In the meantime Tom attended to his duties daily, and made considerable progress with the books: which were already reduced to some sort of order, and made a great appearance in his fairly-written catalogue. During his business hours, he indulged himself occasionally with snatches of reading; which were often, indeed, a necessary part of his pursuit; and as he usually made bold to carry one of these goblin volumes home at night (always bringing it back again next morning, in case his strange employer should appear and ask what had become of it), he led a happy, quiet, studious kind of life, after his own heart. (p. 619).

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dick, Philip K. Counter-Clock World (London: Coronet Books, Hodder and Stoughton, 1977, c1967) 158 p.
For some reason time has reversed. Dead people come back to life. Infants return to the womb. People disgorge food. Some of them pick up cigarette butts and blow smoke into them until they are long and unsmoked. In this world one function of the People's Topical Library is the destruction of books when time had reversed to the point where they had been written. The Head Librarian is Mavis McGuire. She is “bitchy, hostile, and mean.” (p. 15).
Douglas Appleford is the librarian in charge of Section B where manuscripts are eradicated. He is “a stuffy, formal but reasonably helpful person; certainly far more easily dealt with than Mavis McGuire.” (p. 22). “'Our job here at the library,' Appleford said, 'Is not to study and/or memorize data; it is to expunge it.'” (p. 26).

Later it becomes clear that the People's Topical Library is a far more sinister organization. A newspaper reports that as many as three people a month disappear behind its walls. Everyone who works for the library eventually ends up in the “Children's Department,” from which armies of dwindled adults are deployed to enforce library policy.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Diamant, Anita. Good Harbor (New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 2002) 251 p.
Kathleen Levine is a middle-aged children’s librarian with breast cancer. She is good at helping children find books they will enjoy reading. The new rabbi recruits her to develop a synagogue library.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Dexter, Colin. The Wench is Dead (London: St. Martin's, 1989) 200 p.
Christine Greenaway is a beautiful young blond reference librarian in the Bodleian Library's Lower Reading Room. "... her daily duties demanded assistance to both senior and junior members of the University: checking slips, identifying shelf-marks, suggesting reference-sections, making and taking phone calls (one, yesterday, from the University of Uppsala). And over these last years she had felt a sense of importance and enjoyment in her job - of functioning happily in the working of the University" (p. 64).

Thursday, October 13, 2016

DeWeese, Jean. Hour of the Cat (New York: Doubleday, 1980) 179 p.
The Librarian of Hazelton Public Library is 5-foot, 100-pound, green-eyed Valerie Hamilton. Apart from a mysterious stalker she must deal with a group trying to keep the library from offering popular fiction to the public (p. 141-42).  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

DeWeese, Jean. The Doll with Opal Eyes (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1976) 182 p.
Roslyn Stratton, fresh out of library school, gets a job driving the new bookmobile for the small midwestern town of Fowler. Her boss, the librarian, is Mrs. Sutherland, but Roslyn learns most of what she needs to know from an aide, Jenny Wellons. Roslyn is friendly and has good sense of humor. The library is an ugly block of a building.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Derleth, August. The Shield of the Valiant (New York: Scribner's, 1945) 511 p.
The town of Sac Prairie, Wisconsin, Derleth's fictional version of Sauk City, makes its way through the 1930s towards the next world war. The town librarian, Miss Mergan will not make it though. She is dying of lung cancer.

But it was not the thought of dying that touched her. It was not the thought of her personal ceasing to exist at all; it was the thought, curiously, of leaving Sac Prairie. She had fought for Sac Prairie so long that she was frightened now at the thought of what the village would become without her. It was not that she did not know Sac Prairie would go on as before, but only that she realized how much she had fought the rising tide of ignorance, of bigotry, of reactionary thought in her village, how she had kept education liberal by her position on the Board of Education, how she had held the library open to books of all kinds, regardless of those who were against this or that on various trumped-up grounds of bigotry and ignorance. (p. 7).


We never get to know Miss Mergan's first name. Even her sister Georgina, who only appears for a few pages to take care of her in her last days, gets a first name. But the town librarian is only Miss Mergan.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Catalogue of Death (New York: Avon Books, 2007) 338 p.
Bellehaven Public Library is getting a new building on land donated by a local patron. Meanwhile the admirable Helma Zukas keeps the old library open during the worst snowstorm on record.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Bookmarked to Die (New York: Avon Books, 2006) 356 p.
Helma is organizing a local authors project. She is trying to keep her new-age boss May Apple Moon at bay. She has a new colleague.

Gloria “Call me Glory” Shandy was Bellehaven Public Library's newest reference librarian—petite and pert with a sleek fall of hair almost too red to be true. Freckles dusted her nose in childish blotches. As if to emphasize the effect, Glory dressed not exactly childish but in clothes that a twelve-year-old girl who hadn't yet discovered rock music might wear, including a myriad of girlish beaded bracelets and sparkly hairbands. (p. 7).

On top of all this Helma has turned forty-two.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas Shelves the Evidence (New York: Avon Books, 2001) 242 p.
Miss Zukas deletes a circulation record to prevent the police finding out who checked out a book found at a crime scene. She accidentally sees the name as it is being deleted but she never tells. There is a new Circulation Supervisor; an ex-military man named Dutch.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas in Death’s Shadow (New York: Avon Twilight, 1999) 210 p.
This is another satisfying mystery. Ms. Moon confesses to buying her personal books using the library’s discount but nobody cares. It seemed to me that Ms. Zukas is becoming cavalier about work hours, frequently arriving at the library late or leaving early. 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Final Notice (New York: Avon Books, 1998) 228 p.
Helma Zukas, the staid strong-willed librarian in Washington State brings her considerable powers to another murder case. At the same time Ms. Moon, the library’s new-age director has plans for the staff to wear “I love myself” buttons and take personality tests that will classify each of them into their respective colors. Helma firmly refuses to comply with each nutty decision and the rest of the staff relies on her to save them all from this nonsense. The story opens with a quarrel between library patrons over use of an Internet computer, so Bellehaven Public Library is continuing to automate.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Out of Circulation (New York: Avon Books, 1997) 212 p.
Miss Zukas has an adventure in the Cascade Mountains. Not much library action here, except that the nonlibrarian employees of the public library go on strike. They want to be called something else besides "nonprofessionals."

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas and the Raven's Dance (New York: Avon Books, 1996) 242 p.
Bellehaven Public Library has a new employee, the glum taciturn Harley Woodworth. The library staff seems to have adjusted to an online catalog. Now Miss Zukas is assigned to catalog the private collection at the local Indian Cultural Center. She bones up on Dewey Decimal Classification, and "the immutable rules of book cataloging." (p. 25). The job at the cultural center had been started by Stanley Plummer who lacked an MLS but paid careful attention to detail. Stanley was found murdered, and Miss Zukas is on the trail of another mystery. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas and the Stroke of Death (New York: Avon Books, 1995) 210 p.
In this continuation of the adventures of Helma Zukas we get to know her co-workers at Bellehaven Public a little better. Ms. May Apple Moon, the library director, is a transplant from California. She calls meetings "harmony circles" and is trying to make the library more popular by organizing overnight camp-outs for gradeschoolers. Ms. Moon had moved to Bellehaven two years earlier, and "although still unaccountably tan, had exchanged her California slenderness for a more Northwest luxuriousness." Roberta Seymour, the Washington history and genealogy librarian is dating George the cataloger but wants to keep it quiet. We also get to know Mrs. Carmon (a circulation clerk), Roger Barnhard, and the aloof, formal Patrice. It seems Helma is in the habit of cutting out pictures from magazines. She enjoys the act of cutting very carefully around objects so as to get the whole item without any of the background.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas and the Island Murders (New York: Avon Books, 1995) 212 p.
Now Bellehaven Public Library has a new director. Ms. Moon is very concerned with the image of the library and librarians. "She encouraged those who wore glasses to exchange them for contact lenses and to wear what she called 'personal power' clothing. 'Smile, smile,' she liked to exhort. 'Let the warmth of your inner librarian shine through.'" (p. 5). Miss Zukas embodies many stereotypical librarian traits. She wears glasses and sensible shoes. She has had the same hair style since high school. However, we learn that Helma does not like cats. And of course, she is very good at solving mysteries. Helma uses author's names as substitute curses. When annoyed, for example, she will say, "Oh, Faulkner."

Saturday, October 1, 2016

 Dereske, Jo. Miss Zukas and the Library Murders (New York: Avon, 1994) 218 p.
Helma (Wilhelmina) Zukas is a librarian of Lithuanian descent who grew up in a small Michigan town. She specializes in history and applied sciences at Bellehaven (read Bellingham, Wash.) Public Library.  The library director is Mr. Upman, who's head is bald and bespectacled, but who has the body of an Olympic marathoner. Mr. Upman "liked to touch" (p. 6). The library staff also includes Eve Oxnard (fiction and music), Roger (children's), Patrice (social science and periodicals), and George Melville, the cataloger whom no one seems to trust.
Mr. Upman is choosing a computer system to replace the old card catalog, but without any input from the staff. Some of the staff are upset at not being consulted, others are upset about losing the card catalog.
A body stabbed with a card catalog drawer rod is found in the fiction stacks, and Miss Zukas is busy finding clues to the murder.