Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Flint, Margaret. Deacon's Road (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1938) 310 p.
Young and beautiful, Shirley Wells “was, she hoped, trained to be a librarian.” (p. 87). She takes a job at the Foxboro, Maine, library but what she really wants is to get married.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Fletcher, Joyce Fay. The Library (Xlibris Press, c2010) 352 p.
The Sojourner Truth branch of the Washington, D.C. Public library system is the setting for this exploration into the life of a library staff. There is Ursula Swann, the young reference librarian who is happy and proud to be a librarian and who works hard to be good at it. Jackie Ramsey, the assistant manager has chronic health problems although some believe she is abusing sick leave privileges. Monique Powell is the circulation supervisor. Susan McCall is the children's librarian. The manager, Albert Spencer is old and just wants everyone to calm down. The issues they deal with are familiar to many librarians. Staff rivalry, homeless and mentally ill patrons, censorship, budget cuts. And occasionally they get to help someone find the book or information they need.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fiske, John. The Library Book (Pride's Crossing, Mass.: Black Spruce Media, c2006) 264 p.
A novel about the design and construction of the New York Public Library 42nd Street branch, this is really more of a book about architecture than about libraries. That said, it is an interesting look at all the considerations involved and how decisions were made.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Fiske, Dorsey. Bound to Murder (New York: St. Martin's, 1987) 305 p.
The Cambridge University Library is in an uproar when a rare copy of Chaucer's Anelida and Arcite is missing from the rare book room. The Rare Books Librarian, Mr. J.H.R. Manthorpe, being absent, the investigation is begun by Professor Fenchurch who is interested in mysteries. Later Manthorpe plays a brief Dr. Watson role to Fenchurch's Holmes. Meanwhile a bookbinder named Welby is acting suspiciously. The University Library is closed for several days while a search for the missing book is executed. The climax of the story plays out in the stacks and at the top of the tower of the library.
The Sheepshanks College library is the scene of another theft. Here we meet Under-Librarian Mole, who "bore a close resemblance to a walking-stick with the handle at right angles to its shaft, his head and shoulders serving as the former" (p. 5). We also meet Librarian Grierson: "Rotund and somewhat fussy, he was nonetheless an unexceptionable librarian and, in marked contrast to his predecessor, an accomplished scholar and administrator" (p. 7).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fiske, Dorsey. Academic Murder (New York: St. Martin's, 1980) 244 p.
Sheepshanks College, Cambridge has two librarians: Ernest Garmoyle of the Prye Library, who is a good scholar but an unpleasant man and an alcoholic, and Mr. Smythson of the Abbot's Library. The two librarians argue over a Shakespeare manuscript, which Garmoyle finds in the Abbot's Library and removes to the Prye Library. The Pryevian Library is described on p. 61-64. The University Library is also described:

The rare books room of the University Library at Cambridge forms a hideous contrast to its equivalent in Oxford's Bodley. The scholar who consults a volume in one of the bays of Duke Humphrey, the rare book reading-room of the Bodleian, performs his researches in surroundings permeated with an atmosphere of medieval peace. The day stretches before him in infinite leisure, as though hours might as easily be years or centuries: a sense of timelessness pervades the studies of one who performs his labours in umber twilight at a desk where once clerks pored over chained volumes written in a crotchety Gothic hand.

It is regrettable that Cambridge's chief library possesses no antique nook, no venerable cranny where the learned may contemplate the erudition of past ages in a setting suitably archaic. Instead, the graceless brick edifice which so brazenly rears its obscene tower to dominate the Cambridge skyline provides for the purpose a room more fit for the filing of forms by drab and faceless minor civil servants than the faun-filled researches of classicists or the gilded and jewelled imaginings of medieval scholars. The Anderson Room, an uninspiring oblong, is furnished with sturdy, utilitarian and unlovely tables and chairs constructed of yellow oak. Raising one's eyes from (for example) the elegantly spare type-face with which Nicolas Jenson printed his edition of Pliny, one is abruptly and rudely recalled to the present rather than gradually acclimatized, as one is at Bodley: indeed, a scholar in the Anderson Room is apt to incur a case of the aesthetic and intellectual bends. (p. 209-210).

Friday, November 25, 2016

Fisher, David E. Katie's Terror (New York: William Morrow, 1982) 263 p.
Katherine McGregor Townsend is a librarian at the 42nd Street branch of the New York Public Library. We find her at her job in the information booth and in the closed stacks, with descriptions of shelving and retrieving procedures. We learn that the books are shelved by size rather than by subject. "The library is, in these deepest depths of what is after all its soul, the very antithesis of its public conception; there is little quiet, calm, and peace here. At night, of course, it is a different story. At night the stacks are empty, deserted, dark and very nearly haunted. A spine-chilling chase in the stacks and a falling stack of books climaxes this entertaining story. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Findley, Timothy. Headhunter (New York: Crown, 1993) 440 p.
Lilah Kemp was once Chief Librarian at Rosedale Public Library. The library burned to the ground and Lilah developed severe schizophrenia. Now she lives in Toronto where she pushes an empty baby buggy and visits the Metro Library nearly every day. Lilah has the power to let characters escape from their books into the real world. We are introduced briefly to Myra Cherniak, who works at the Information Desk at the Metro Library (p. 353-54).

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Fforde, Jasper.  Thursday Next in First Among Sequels (New York: Viking, c2007) 363 p.
As Thursday goes in and out of her own books, more information about the Great Library is revealed.

Because there are very few authors whose names begin with Q, X, and Z, floors seventeen, twenty-four and twenty-six were relatively empty and thus free for other purposes. The seventeenth floor housed the Mispeling Vyrus Farst Respons Groop, the twenty-fourth floor was used essentially for storage, and the twenty sixth was where the legislative body that governs the BookWorld had taken up residence: the Council of Genres....
"The Great Library looks smaller from the outside," observed Thursday5, staring out the window at the rain-streaked exterior.
She was right. The corridors in the library below could be as long as two hundred miles in each direction, expandable upon requirements, but from the outside the library looked more akin to the Chrysler Building, liberally decorated with stainless-steel statuary and measuring less than two hundred yards along each face. And even though we were only on the twenty-sixth floor, it looked a great deal higher. I had once been to the top of the 120-story Goliath Tower at Goliathopolis, and this seemed easily as high as that. (p. 52-53).

The Cheshire Cat has now assumed command of Text Grand Central and communicates by means of a mobilefootnoterphone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Fforde, Jasper. Something Rotten (New York: Penguin, 2005) 385 p.
The librarian Cheshire Cat make a brief appearance with some crucial information.

When he first started working in Alice in Wonderland he was known as the Cheshire Cat, but the authorities moved the Cheshire county boundaries, and he thus became the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, but that was a bit of a mouthful, so he was know more affectionately as the Cat formerly known as Cheshire or, more simply, the Cat. His real name was Archibald, but that was reserved for his mother when she was cross with him.
He worked very closely with us at Jurisfiction, where he was in charge of the Great Library, a cavernous and almost infinite depository of every book ever written. But to call the Cat a librarian would be an injustice. He was an ├╝berlibrarian—he knew about all the books in his charge. When they were being read, by whom—everything. (p. 257).

Monday, November 21, 2016

Fforde, Jasper. The Well of Lost Plots (New York: Viking, 2003) 375 p.
Jurisfiction agent Thursday Next continues to use the library in her law enforcement duties.

To understand the Well you have to have an idea of the layout of the Great Library. The library is where all published fiction is stored so it can be read by the readers in the Outland; there are twenty-six floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. The library is constructed in the layout of a cross with the four corridors radiating from the center point....
Beneath the Great Library are twenty-six floors of dingy yet industrious subbasements known as the Well of Lost Plots. This is where books are constructed, honed and polished in readiness for a place in the library above–-if they make it that far. The failure rate is high. Unpublished books outnumber published ones by an estimated eight to one. (p. 1).

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Fforde, Jasper. Lost in a Good Book (New York: Viking, 2002) 399 p.
Special agent Thursday Next finds the Library of the Jurisfiction Dept. which allows her access to the realities of all books.

I was in a long, dark, wood-paneled corridor lined with bookshelves that reached from the richly carpeted floor to the vaulted ceiling.... The library appeared endless; in both directions the corridor vanished into darkness with no definable end. But this wasn’t important. Describing the library would be like going to see a Turner and commenting on the frame. On all of the walls, end after end, shelf after shelf, were books. Hundreds, thousands, millions of books. Hardbacks, paperbacks, leatherbound, uncorrected proofs, handwritten manuscripts, everything. I stepped closer and rested my fingertips lightly against the pristine volumes. They felt warm to the touch, so I leaned closer and pressed my ear to the spines. I could hear a distant hum, the rumble of machinery, people talking, traffic, seagulls, laughter, waves on rocks, wind in the winter branches of trees, distant thunder, heavy rain, children playing, a blacksmith’s hammer-—a million sounds all happening together. And then, in a revelatory moment, the clouds slid back from my mind and a crystal-clear understanding of the very nature of books shone upon me. They weren’t just collections of words arranged neatly on a page to give the impression of reality–each of these volumes was reality. The similarity of these books to the copies I had read back home was no more than the similarity a photograph has to its subject. These books were alive! (p. 174-175).


The librarian is the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland. He tells Thursday how to enter the books and warns her of agents who have been lost forever in books.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Fergusson, Harvey. Hot Saturday (New York: Knopf, 1926) 261 p.
Alma Budlong is the librarian in a small western town. Alma's father is a retired judge and the Budlongs were once social leaders in the town. Now that old Judge Budlong is old and senile their social prestige has fallen on hard times but Alma still has influence. “She was one of the first women in town to smoke openly. Not many others would have dared to start, but when Alma started, several dared to follow.” (p. 120).

In the library, too, she had done things no one else would have attempted. She made the city council double the appropriation for books and she made the board of governors buy whatever books she told them to buy. She certainly had furnished the town with some spicy reading. Out went the Elsie books and M├╝hlbach's historical romances and a lot of other stuff that had slept under the dust for years. In came H.G. Wells and Arnold Bennett and even Dreiser and Mencken. (p. 120-121).

Alma had once been involved with a man but he had left town suddenly. Now a young friend describes her with

the pity of youth full-blown for youth beginning to wane. Alma could still make herself look young sometimes at night, but lying tired in daylight she seemed almost middle-aged. Her figure was still good and she had pretty ankles, but her neck was beginning to wrinkle and she had a few grey hairs – and then her glasses.... Funny what a handicap glasses were to a woman. Men never liked them and they must be always falling off and getting in the way at critical moments.... That was another trouble with working. You wore glasses and looked tired. Alma began to look old just about the time she went to work at the library. (p. 30).

Those comments I think are meant to be more revealing of the young friend than of Alma.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Faucher, Kane X. The Infinite Library (U.S.A.: Civil Coping Mechanisms, c2011) 510 p.
Faucher has taken Borges' “The Library of Babel” and expanded it into a novel. It starts with a scholar studying at the Vatican Library being recruited by a man named Castellemare to work in the infinite library. Castellemare calls himself a librarian. The infinite library comprises all possible books. Occasionally one of the books escapes into the real world and must be retrieved.
The scholar considers working for Castellemare.

Yes, I had considered becoming a librarian, but I love books too much to merely be a functionary who must fight a losing battle of maintaining order in a collection that constantly expands, and the gruff disrespect of the patrons who would wrongly re-shelf at will.” (p. 17).

The scholar explores the infinite library on his own and eventually meets another librarian named Jorge Luis Borges. He is friendly and explains the simple library rules.

don't be disruptive, keep the books in order, no smoking or eating, and no defacement. (p. 333).


There is an order of silent, hooded figures called Devorants who study in the library.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Fargo, Lucile F. Marian-Martha. illustrations by Dorothea Warren (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1936) 257 p.
Two school girls learn about libraries and begin their own library careers in this novel for young people. Marian Pearce is pretty, likes lettering and binding; tasks in which she works alone. Martha Webster is plain looking, but outgoing. She is an excellent organizer. They both work in their high school library with the enthusiastic, helpful librarian, Miss Hand, and the less enjoyable Miss Brook. They think about choosing a career:

Sometimes, of course, Marian and Martha thought about being librarians. Whenever some other vocational bubble burst, Marian thrilled to the idea of a life devoted to books. "You know, Martha, I just love to read," she would say, "and Mother thinks being a librarian is such a genteel occupation because you don't have to be commercial and you can be lovely and charming like those girls at the Public Library loan desk who always know the latest novels because they have so much time to read."
"But Marian," objected Martha, "you know yourself how much work there is to do in a library because you've helped to do it. Just look at Miss Hand! She never gets any time to read until she goes home. And think of all she has to know! She must have studied years and years." (p. 69-70).

After high school they get summer jobs at the local public library. The librarian is Mr. Fisher. Martha helps with the newsletter and spends time in various parts of the library. Marian works in Cataloging, which does not work out because she finds that she makes too many minor errors. It is here that the girls learn of the requirements to become librarians and the fact that librarians are "the most poorly paid professional workers in the United States" (p. 144).
Both girls attend the same college and then library school. Martha helps at an ALA convention and gets to meet Mr. Ruddiger, ALA President, and Miss Englebrecht, President elect.

After library school Marian, who has specialized in rare books, gets a job as director of a special collection in her college library. Martha goes to the Crenville County Library, where she is hired by Jackson Byrd to help build a new library system in an impoverished southern county.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Fante, John. The Road to Los Angeles (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press, 1996) 164 p.
Delusions of grandeur and sexual obsession cloud the mind of young Arturo Bandini. He goes to a branch of the Los Angeles Public Library to read books he cannot understand and becomes infatuated with the beautiful blond librarian, Miss Hopkins. The facts about Miss Hopkins are engulfed in Bandini's ravings. “Miss Hopkins was in the library every afternoon, floating on white legs in the folds of her loose dresses in an atmosphere of books and cool thoughts.” (p. 50).

Monday, November 14, 2016

Fairbank, Janet Ayer. Rich Man, Poor Man (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1936) 626 p.
Barbara Jackson is the assistant librarian in Elida, Kansas in 1912. The head librarian is the portly, enthusiastic Miss Jessup. Babs, “slim lithe and young” (p. 59), is known as an eloquent speaker on political topics, especially prohibition and female suffrage.

The girl took off her hat with a dramatic gesture and disclosed the fact that her hair was cut short, like a boy's. It lay close to her head instead of puffing out the way other women's hair did, and it made her look very queer-- advanced … (p. 60).


Babs gives up her small library and her small town to marry a rich boy from Chicago where they move and become involved in national politics. Although she returns to Elida for visits she never goes back to library work.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Evans, Rachel. Words of Love (New York: Avalon Books, 1999) 183 p.
Joanna Lee is a librarian who works for the Library Service Board in Toronto. She organizes a poetry contest and then falls in love with the winner, a lumberjack from British Columbia. When his town advertizes for a librarian she takes the job.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Erdman, Loula Grace. Three at the Wedding (New York: Dell, 1960, c1953) 254 p.
Frances Nichols works at the public library in Kelso, Illinois under Head Librarian Miss Mattie Crowinshield. When a young man begins frequenting the library Frances gets to know him better. She helps him get a readers card. Eventually they get married and Frances quits her job. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Engstrand, Sophia Belzer. Wilma Rogers (New York: Dial, 1941) 352 p.
With a fresh new MLS from Columbia University Wilma takes the train to Milo, Illinois to begin her professional career. The Milo Public Library is a bare little storefront but Wilma sets about to improve it.

She had mentally divided her work into two parts. Outside, she must raise substantial amounts of money, and make the people of Milo aware of, and enthusiastic about, their library. Inside, she must bring the library to the highest possible level of performance and raise the circulation to the point where the demand exceeded the supply, and the people themselves began to clamor for a better library. Then, not even a new building would be too much to suggest. (p. 36-37).

Wilma is enthusiastic and friendly and soon has more people coming to check books out. She also improves the technical aspects of the library such as the catalog and circulation records. While typing a catalog card she explains to a friend, “'Some librarians get a passionate joy out of cataloging …. It gives me a dry kind of satisfaction.'” (p. 88).
Wilma becomes friends with the chairman of the library board who is also the owner of the corn factory where practically everyone in town works. His wife is an artist and rarely visits Milo, but when she does she meets Wilma and is impressed. She donates money for a new library building. Meanwhile Wilma's frequent visits with the chairman cause gossip in the town.
As with every other aspect of librarianship Wilma is ready with ideas about architectural design.

With so much land,” Wilma was saying, “the building can have depth and breadth instead of great height. The main thing is that every part of it receive much daylight. The second essential is that there be separate rooms for the young children, the adults, and the users of reference material. The book stacks should be open, but placed so that everyone using them must pass close to the librarian's desk. Wherever possible, formality should give way to grace. The library has to make up for the lack of beauty in so many homes. Then, as it is to be a memorial, it must have dignity ….” (p. 185).

And so the new library is built. Wilma organizes a Friends of the Library and begins a story time. Sometimes she muses about aspects of librarianship such as the lack of men in the profession. When the town gossip overtakes her she reflects on her job and life.

The odors, sights, sounds, touch of all the library came crowding into the small office. She felt the books in their order. She smelled the ink of the new books. She weighed in her palms an encyclopedia volume, and sensed the excitement of the chase after a reference question. She felt the hostess-like pleasure of welcoming callers to the library. Even the chafing moments of the library were sweet, compared to not having any more moments here at all....
Librarianship was a gentle world. A world lit by small fires. Giving knowledge, opening blinded eyes, and satisfying minds' thirsts—these were the spiritual call of librarianship. She was served as she served others. (p. 125-126).

Then she says,

... I told myself that I needed something besides my work; that the town was so limited. He took me out. I began to love him.”
Her mouth grew dry, and the words seemed to peel from it.
Yes, I fell in love. I said I had a right to life …. But maybe life and love are things librarians have no right to.” (p. 328).


Poor Wilma. First they tried to give her job to the old untrained woman who had mismanaged the library before. Then they wanted to give it to the untrained daughter of a board member. Even though Wilma has to leave Milo, her final victory is to convince the board to hire another trained librarian in her place.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Engel, Marian. Bear (Boston: Nonpareil Books, 2002, c1976) 121 p.
An aging librarian works in a Canadian historical institute.

Yet, when the weather turned and the sun filtered into even her basement windows, when the sunbeams were laden with spring dust and the old tin ashtrays began to stink of a winter of nicotine and contemplation, the flaws in her plodding private world were made public, even to her, for although she loved old shabby things, things that had already been loved and suffered, objects with a past, when she saw that her arms were slug-pale and her fingerprints grained with old, old ink, that the detritus with which she bedizened her bulletin boards was curled and valueless, when she found that her eyes would no longer focus in the light, she was always ashamed, for the image of the Good Life long ago stamped on her soul was quite different from this, and she suffered in contrast. (p. 2).


But when she is sent to an island in northern Ontario to catalog a private library left to the institute she finds a strange new life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Edghill, Rosemary.  The Cloak of Night and Daggers (New York: Daw Books, 1997) 345 p.
Librarian Ruth Marlow continues to pursue her elf in this third book of The Twelve Treasures. Another elf named Gauvain Makindeor who is the Royal Librarian of Chandrakar seeks his treasure. Makindeor finds the precious Book of Airts and hides it in one of the many libraries in upstate New York. One of these is the Basingstoke College Library. The librarian here is Mrs. Dean who has not left the library in 25 years. “Barely five feet tall, she wore a long-sleeved midcalf-length dress in some dark flowered pattern. There was a paisley shawl around her shoulders, clasped firmly in place with an enormous jet and amber brooch. Her steel-gray hair was done up into a thick, hairpin-studded bun from which protruded a number of yellow #2 pencils, and she wore little wire-rimmed glasses that made her resemble drawings Holly had seen of Miss Manners.” (p. 198). Two minor characters are also librarians: Carol Goodchild and Penny Canaday.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Edghill, Rosemary. The Cup of Morning Shadows (New York: Daw Books, 1995) 317 p.
In this second book of the Twelve Treasures series Ruth Marlowe has her library degree and a job at the Ryerson Memorial Library in Ippisiqua, New York. She and the mysterious Library Director Nicodemus Brightlaw fall through a magical bookcase in the library basement and find themselves in the land of the elves. They later meet Philip LeStrange, one of the library students from the first book. It turns out Philip has been living in the elf world having fallen through the same bookcase.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Edghill, Rosemary. The Sword of Maiden’s Tears (New York: Daw Books, 1994) 284 p.
Library School Students at Columbia University help an elf prince recover his magic sword. The students are Ruth Marlowe who is “tall and blue-eyed, brown-haired and sensible,” (p. 9); Naomi Nasmyth, a doctoral candidate, is “tall and vivid and poised and serene and organized. Black hair and hazel eyes and sangfroid that Emma Peel would envy—not to mention good at games,” (p. 19); Michael Peacock, a tall handsome man with a mysterious past; Philip LeStrange, a sarcastic computer geek; and Jane Greyson, a short, slightly plump girl who has “wit but no real sense of humor.” Jane came from a family that could (and did) trace its lineage back to the Signers (of the Declaration of Independence) on both sides and who (Ruth gathered, mostly by omission) felt that a library degree was the height of intellectual attainment for womankind; their collective psychic feet firmly mired in the past where the two professional tracks for nonmarrying daughters were nurse and librarian.” (p. 40). Library studies don’t enter into the story, but get mentioned occasionally: “I hate cataloging, I hate cataloging exams; everybody buys LC cataloging nowadays which means that some gnome in the basement of the Library of Congress or probably his computer is making us all file Outlaws of Sherwood under Folklore and books on the Miss America pageant under Beauty Aids and what’s the point?” (p. 145).

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Edgerton, Clyde. Raney (New York: Ballantine Books, 1985) 245 p.
Charles Shepard is the assistant librarian at Listre Community College in North Carolina. Although we do not read much about his professional work we get to know him pretty well, through the eyes of his young wife. He plays banjo and loves gospel music. While married life is not everything he hoped for he is committed to making his marriage work.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Eco, Umberto. The Name of the Rose (San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, c1983) 502 p. A Helen and Kurt Wolff book. Originally published as Il nome della rosa (Fabbri-Bompiani, c1980) Translated from the Italian by William Weaver.
A murder is committed in a medieval monastery library.

The library was laid out on a plan which has remained obscure to all over the centuries, and which none of the monks is called upon to know. Only the librarian has received the secret, from the librarian who preceded him, and he communicates it, while still alive, to the assistant librarian, so that death will not take him by surprise and rob the community of that knowledge. And the secret seals the lips of both men. Only the librarian has, in addition to that knowledge, the right to move through the labyrinth of the books, he alone knows where to find them and where to replace them, he alone is responsible for their safekeeping. The other monks work in the scriptorium and may know the list of the volumes that the library houses. But a list of titles often tells very little; only the librarian knows, from the collocation of the volume, from its degree of inaccessibility, what secrets, what truths or falsehoods, the volume contains. Only he decides how, when, and whether to give it to the monk who requests it .... (p. 37).

The librarian is Malachi of Hildesheim. When he shows visitors the list of volumes the following ensues:

"But in what order are they listed?" He quoted from a text I did not know but which was certainly familiar to Malachi: "'The librarian must have a list of all books, carefully ordered by subjects and authors, and they must be classified on the shelves with numerical indications.' How do you know the collocation of each book?"
Malachi showed him some annotations beside each title. I read: "iii, IV gradus, V in prima graecorum"; "ii, V gradus, VII in tertia anglorum," and so on. I understood that the first number indicated the position of the book on the shelf or gradus, which was in turn indicated by the second number, while the case was indicated by the third number; and I understood also that the other phrases designated a room or a corridor of the library, and I made bold to ask further information about these last distinctions. Malachi looked at me sternly: "Perhaps you do not know, or have forgotten, that only the librarian is allowed access to the library. It is therefore right and sufficient that only the librarian know how to decipher these things."
"But in what order are the books recorded in this list?" William asked. "Not by subject, it seems to me." He did not suggest an order by author, following the same sequence as the letters of the alphabet, for this is a system I have seen adopted only in recent years, and at that time it was rarely used.
"The library dates back to the earliest times," Malachi said, "and the books are registered in order of their acquisition, donation, or entrance within our walls."
"They are difficult to find, then," William observed.
"It is enough for the librarian to know them by heart and know when each book came here. As for the other monks, they can rely on his memory." (p. 75).


The assistant librarian is Berengar of Arundel, "a pale-faced young man" (p. 82).

Friday, November 4, 2016

Easterman, Daniel. The Judas Testament (New York: HarperPaperback, 1995) 464 p.
Jack Gould is assistant curator of the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin and an expert in biblical manuscripts. He is drawn into an international plot involving a mysterious scroll. Jack meets Yuri Volnukhin, director of the Russian State Library. Yuri explains that the Library is in possession of many priceless treasures plundered from the Nazis at the end of World War II. These include many ancient Hebrew manuscripts.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Dwight, Olivia. Close His Eyes (New York: Harper & Brothers, c1961) 179 p.
A bibliographer named John Dryden is hired to catalogue a deceased poet's papers. Dryden does not like to be called a librarian.

In the first place I'm not one; you have to have a special sort of degree for it. In the second place, we all know what librarians are; they are nice middle-aged ladies who whisper and tell you not to mistreat the books. I am fond of many of them. But I am not one. (p. 66-67).


John speaks to the assistant college librarian, Miss Boucher, when he finds his papers have been tampered with. She explains that a spare key to the rare book vault is kept on a nail next to the door “for convenience.” (p. 153).

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Dutton, Charles J. Murder in a Library (New York: A.L. Burt, c1931) 302 p.
Ruby Merton, reference librarian at a large urban public library, is found murdered in her office. She is well known and not well liked: "No one had ever called the reference librarian good-looking; there were many who said she was just the opposite. Eccentric in everything she did, like many of her type, her clothes ran to vivid, extreme colors." (p. 9-10). "... the librarian was a stickler for formality. Perhaps her long years of service at a small salary had soured her, for there was no doubt her disposition was not of the best. Few were the people that would have come into her office uninvited." (p. 20). "She came from one of the old families of the city. In her childhood they had been wealthy, but the influence and money had vanished years ago. She had been a soured, neurotic old maid, whose tongue poured out irony and contempt." (p. 143).
A murder in a library causes some surprise: "Did you ever hear of a fool crime like this, in a library, a place filled with books, with nice young girls and cranky old maids? What under heavens is there in a library to bring crime?" (p. 107). The answer soon follows:

... the women in the libraries are nice women, as you say, and the building is very much a public place. They are dealing all the time with what we call the 'dear public,' and sometimes the public is not so nice. All day long they meet various types of people; some who are intelligent, and some--the majority--who are not. Nice people, as you say, but also neurotics, cranks, selfish people. It's not an easy task and often it does things to them."
"Does what?"
"I mean this. Many of the women in that building have been there for years. Their lives are cramped to the extent that they are a bit unnatural. As they grow older, like all people who have put away from them a home and children, they become a little self-centered. Once, I suppose, there were more jealousies and more neurotics in our public libraries than in any other place, unless in the churches...."
"... once libraries were run only by women and by women who were given the jobs because of two things--family or position. They must earn a living and it was thought anyone could hand out books. So the libraries were filled with narrow, repressed, neurotic women, whose outlook on life had become a bit warped and soured. You see, in that case, instead of saying nothing could happen in a library, you should have said, anything might happen." (p. 108-9).

The above remarks notwithstanding, the Head Librarian is a man, Mr. Henry Spicer, a well-liked and dedicated professional. About the library staff in general, however, we read, "as a rule librarians were not bookish people" (p. 180). "The library staff would know they were in the safe, but they would not be very much interested in the safe or its contents. When the days' work was over, books were the last thing they wished to see" (p. 232). The story involves stolen rare books.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Dutton, Charles J. Streaked with Crimson (New York: Collier, c1929) 280 p. Front Page Mysteries, second series.
Abigail Tripp is the “thin, little nervous librarian” (p. 101) in the small coastal town of Mansfield. She is curious and is always snooping on her neighbors. But when she finds one of them murdered she loses her curiosity forever.