Monday, February 27, 2017
Sunday, February 26, 2017
Holman, Hugh. Up This Crooked Way: a Sheriff Macready Detective Story (New York: M.S. Mill, 1946) 211 p.
Jacqueline Dean is a pretty, young reference librarian at Abeton College in South Carolina. When a murder is committed at Jackie's rooming house she must account for her actions to the Sheriff. Fortunately she and Sheriff Macready are already acquainted because he often comes to the college library to read books on various topics. It also turns out he can quote Chaucer from memory.
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Hoffman, Alice. The Ice Queen (New York: Back Bay Books, 2006) 211 p.
A New Jersey librarian is emotionally distant and obsessed with death. She moves to Florida and gets a job at the Orlon Public Library, a bleak underused and underfunded institution with few books and no computers. Here she assists the aging head librarian Frances York.
Friday, February 24, 2017
Hodson, James Lansdale. Harvest in the North (New York: Knopf, 1934) 432 p.
Henry Brierley is assistant librarian in Chesterford, Lancashire, England. He has a “finely drawn” face, “eyes so dark as to be almost black, and by turns dreamy or smoldering, an irregular nose too long, finely curved lips rather too full and sensuous, and ears slightly prominent and large. His hair was thick and unruly, his hands long and thin and like those of a fiddler.” (p. 58). He uses £200 of library funds to make a personal investment which pays off. Later he resigns to try his hand as a playwright.
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Hodgkin, M.R. Student Body (New York: Scribner's, 1949) 226 p.
Caradoc College is stunned when a student falls to his death from a railroad trestle. There's mysterious work afoot in the library as well. Someone has been writing incriminating notes in the margins of library books. Blackmail notes in various well-known handwriting are turning up in library carrel drawers. The librarian is Miss P. Cecily, known to all as Cecily Parsley. "She was a forbidding, book-mad spinster ..." but alas a very minor character in this story. There is a suspenseful scene in the darkened stacks on p. 172: "But if I were the murderer--"
He took another step forward, and as he did so one of the fire doors far away in the distance opened, a loud cheerful assistant's voice roared a perfunctory "Everyone out?" and with a click of the master switch all the lights in the stacks went out.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Hodges, Hollis. Norman Rockwell’s Greatest Painting (Middlebury, Vt.: Paul S. Eriksson, 1988) 261 p.
Mary Ostrowski is a retired librarian in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She is “sixty-three years old, sort of short, slender, medium-length dark gray hair with a few lines of black running through it....” (p. 29) Mary finds a book of advice for older single people in a secondhand book store. She follows the advice and meets a nice older man.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Hinton, Lynne. The Order of Things (New York: St. Martin's Press, c2009) 225 p.
Andreas Jay Hackett loves being a librarian.
I love the system of numbers and titles, stacks of books all related by subject matter or fiction genre. I love knowing that if I learn the files, understand the rational method of where to put books on a shelf, that I can find any piece of literature in any library in any town in America. There's power in that kind of knowledge and I appreciate the magnitude of what I know. I love the Dewey decimal system with its classification rules and the simple ways to categorize. I love knowing that I am operating in the most widely used library classification system and that I can go anywhere and be an expert on how to find things. There is great comfort in that especially when I feel so lost from myself.
Even before I became a librarian, I felt at home in the quiet rooms surrounded by the bound pages of history and science, by the written biographies of explorers and adventurers. I have always loved the smell of leather bindings, the feel of paper between a finger and thumb, the crinkle of the page as it turns, the easy way life falls open from a book. As a child if I was missing, my mother always knew where to find me. I was always in the library. Later, as an adult, once I unlocked the secrets in the library and gained the knowledge that I can find any answer somebody needs, I felt a great pride in my work. After all, I have a real gift for reference work and I'm confident that everybody I work with would agree with that statement.
“Go ask Andy,” the other librarians would say to the researching student. “She'll know.” And they were right. I usually did. (p. 37-38).
And then Andy checked herself into a psychiatric hospital.
Monday, February 20, 2017
Hinkle, Vernon. Music To Murder By (New York: Leisure Books, 1978), 233 p.
H. Martin Webb is “head librarian of one of Harvard's music libraries” (p.12). He is forced to leave the library in the hands of his assistant, Miss Pinkham, while he investigates three deaths. “It is awkward, at the very least, to have the misfortune, ill timing and bad taste to discover more than one corpse within a three-day period.” (p. 78). Fortunately the police cooperate having learned that, “Mr. Webb … has established himself in scholarly circles … as a superior … detective, having a knack for … uncovering answers … to questions … that baffle his colleagues.” (p. 179).
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Hilton, James. So Well Remembered (Boston: Little Brown, 1945) 284 p.
Livia Channing, whose father spent 14 years in prison, develops her own unique values. One day (p. 77-79) she enters the Browdley (Yorkshire) Public Library, and finds a book about her father. Later (p. 105) she starts working in the library, but she has trouble dealing with the public so she is given the task of indexing (p. 110).
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Hilton, James. Random Harvest (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, c1941) 311 p.
Mr. Woburn is a minor character hired to catalog the library of a wealthy businessman. He previously worked at a public library in Lambeth. He writes fiction but admits that he is not very original.
Friday, February 17, 2017
Hill, Marion Moore. Death Books a Return (Corona Del Mar, CA: Pemberly Press, c2008) 284 p. The Scrappy Librarian Mystery Series.
Juanita Wills is back with her mismatched staff. Once again Mavis and Meador are dueling through Bartlett's and the quotations bulletin board.
Juanita's research into local history stirs up unpleasant memories in the town of Wyndham Oklahoma. Thirty two chapters of mounting tension culminate in a standoff and scuffle in the darkened library stacks.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
Hill, Marion Moore. Bookmarked for Murder (Lake Tahoe, Nev.: Fiction Works, 2003) 236 p.
Juanita Wills is the head of the Wyndham Public Library in Oklahoma. Her two assistants are the elderly, flinty Mavis Ralston and the young overweight slacker Calvin Meador. These two do not get along well and compete to one-up each other on the quotation board. Occasionally Juanita begins daydreaming about suitable torture for Mavis whom she finds annoying. Meanwhile Juanita hunts for a gang of criminals.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Hill, Donna. Murder Uptown (New York: Carroll & Graf, 1992) 216 p.
Murder comes to metropolitan Fuller College and naturally the library plays its part. A small part actually, but the library with its manual catalog and circulation system is described on p. 105. The library is the scene of the culprit's capture on p. 205-212.
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Hill, Donna. Catch A Brass Canary (New York: Lippincott, 1965) 224 p.
Miguel Campos is a page at an Upper West Side branch of the New York Public Library. The library is his chance to escape the life of gangs and crime that seems his lot as a Puerto Rican in New York. Frank is the unctuous captain of pages. Victoria Davies is a young girl who lives upstairs from the library with her father the janitor. One of the assistants, Pat Burney is in love with the other assistant Sylvan Dietzler, who seems oblivious of her to a comic extent. The staff also includes Miss May Willoughby, the children's librarian; Miss Nell Kettridge; Jennifer Meade, a half time professional trainee; and talkative librarian, Mrs. Ethelbald.
When the Head Librarian Miss Tait is forced to leave for health reasons Miss Kettridge is thrust into the position. She does not want or enjoy this position because she does not like to interact with people.
Wrangles with the public, confusion at the desks, racket in the children's room, damages, losses and fines; envy, dissension and strife, all of it hated involvement with peoples' problems. And where would it lead, anyway? Nell was no career woman. Not aggressive, not witty, not flagrantly intelligent, not striking in height or appearance with her plain brown hair and brown eyes all of a piece, Nell neither wanted nor felt herself destined for success in public life. If she exhibited the conventional manner of a librarian, it was to mask and preserve from challenge the one superiority she acknowledged, her independence of mind. She remained in New York for privacy, to attend exhibitions, converts, the theater, and not for any piddling career in the Public Library. (p. 46-47).
Nonetheless, she turns out to be a very capable head librarian. She encourages Miguel and deals with all the library problems in a level-headed sensible way.
One major library problem is a crazy man who has taken on the mission of protecting society from "bad books" by defacing or destroying the library's copies of these dangerous books. He explains to Miguel while trying to enlist his help:
"Any book can be a perverter of attitudes--history, religion, philosophy have done their share--but literature and ordinary fiction, which are read with trust for pleasure, are the most dangerous. The authors themselves may not be aware of it, but where prejudice exists it comes out and make converts of the unsuspecting readers."
"But what about the librarians?" said Miguel, trying to free himself from the tense grasp. "Don't they watch out for bad books?"
"Well, but busy as they are, they couldn't undertake a study like mine. Then too, you know," Rupert added, confidentially, "they are innocent people, despite what you might think from what happened today. They are lovers of the word, you see, without my experience of the world." (p. 71).
Monday, February 13, 2017
Hersey, John. The Child Buyer: A Novel in the Form of Hearings before the Standing Committee on Education, Welfare, & Public Morality of a certain State Senate, Investigating the Conspiracy of Mr. Wissey Jones, with others, to Purchase a Male Child (New York: Knopf, 1972), 257 p.
Miss Elizabeth Cloud is the Librarian at the Pequot Town Free Library. She is a hunchback with "a sufferer's face and a most intriguing forehead." (p. 112). She likes children and provides reading material for the novel's brilliant 12 year old subject. "I hold back nothing from a child's mind-- within reason. I can smell a bad smell as well as the next person, but where there's curiosity, healthy curiosity, I believe in satisfying it. If you thwart and withhold--then's when the prurience and sneaking and perversion begin." (p. 144).
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Hellenga, Robert. The Sixteen Pleasures (New York: Soho, 1994), 327 p.
Margot Harrington, a book conservator at the Newberry Library, goes to Florence in 1966 to help clean and repair flood-damaged libraries. She finds herself in a Carmelite convent drying and restoring waterlogged books. The Abbess gives Margot a work of 16th century pornography and asks her to sell it, hoping to raise enough money to save the library.
Friday, February 10, 2017
Heinlein, Robert A. Friday (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982) 368 p.
Professor Perry is "a fatherly old dear" and Head Librarian for the employer of the title character. He is responsible for a paper library in addition to computers with access to the collections of Harvard, the British Museum, and the Washington Library of the Atlantic Union (formerly LC? this is in the future). Friday finds that she can be searching for information on the history of Vicksburg and, through cross references, find material on spectral types of stars (p. 229).
Thursday, February 9, 2017
Heidish, Marcy. The Torching (New York: Avon Books, 1993) 262 p.
A writer who owns a used book store does research in a “small jewel of a library, once a stately Georgetown mansion.” (p. 23). She is normally assisted by a librarian named Mr. Archer, “the angel of Special Collections” (p. 23). Another librarian is Mrs. Lind, “[a] large, middle-aged British woman, she always seemed somehow slightly damp. Her cropped gray-brown hair was always rumpled, her blouse escaping from her skirt, her manner harried, worried, kindly, alert. Despite that, she was precise and efficient, taking questions, turning with a squinch of rubberized heel, then reappearing with surprising speed, deftly balancing columns of heavy tomes.” (p. 23-24). Mrs. Lind turns up later in a historical society library.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Hegi, Ursula. Stones from the River (New York: Poseidon Press, 1994) 507 p.
The life of a small German town on the Rhine is seen through the eyes of Trudi Montag, a dwarf. Trudi and her father run a pay-library where townsfolk come to borrow novels, romances and westerns, and to buy tobacco. Trudi was introduced in Hegi's previous novel, Floating in my Mother's Palm.
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Hay, Ashley. The Railwayman's Wife (London: Allen & Unwin, 2014, c2013) 307 p.
When Anikka Lachlan's husband is killed in a train accident she is given the job of librarian of the Railway Institute. The library is located in the Sydney Central Station. Helping people find books to read is a comfort to her.
Monday, February 6, 2017
Hawkes, Judith. Julian’s House (New York: Signet, 1991) 381 p.
Haunted house investigators are assisted by Colin Robinson, librarian at the Skipton Public Library in Massachusetts. Colin is 65 and painfully shy. He is very proud of his library. “He was proud of the cross-referenced card catalog, the quiet shelves of books, the scarred reading tables polished to a shine—for he did all the work himself, except for mopping the floors.... Above all he was proud of his own private project, the town history on which he spent hours of research and honest love.” (p. 105).
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Havighurst, Marion Boyd. Murder in the Stacks (Oxford, Ohio: Miami University, 1989) 249 p. Originally published, Boston: Lothrop, Lee & Shepherd, 1934.
A professor reading in the Library of Kingsley University (Based on Miami University in Oxford, Ohio), together with young desk clerk Agnes Hubbard, finds the body of another professor in the stacks. The library staff has a mystery involving murder and a rare book. University Librarian, Mark Denman, looks like "quite a Lothario ... with his dark foreign-looking face, his clipped mustache and his immaculate clothing." (p. 17). Also involved in the mystery is young Bertha Chase, one of the assistant librarians. This is a classic library mystery with romantic entanglements among the library staff, theft of a rare book, and of course, terror in the dark stacks where death could be waiting around the next corner or at the top of a spiral staircase.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
Haverstock, Nathan A. Friends of the Library: an Interactive Novel (Oberlin, Ohio: Creative People Press, c2004) 142 p.
The Plymouth Public Library in northeastern Ohio gains national attention when a friend of the library starts hiding dollar bills in random books. Head Librarian Louella Winters is hard-working and diplomatic with the public. The Acquisitions Librarian Dwight Moodey is grumpy because he has to buy more music and movies and fewer books. Also, he had to move his desk to the basement to make room for the fax machine. Reference Librarian Eric Motley is a “kindly-looking old gentleman.” (p. 3). Many of the older patrons and staff complain of modernization ruining the traditional library.
Friday, February 3, 2017
Havens, Candace. Like a Charm (New York: Berkley Books, c2008) 289 p.
Kira Smythe has fond memories of her hometown library in Sweet, Texas. "There are huge spirals at the top and it sits in the center of the small town. The arched windows and gargoyles over the double doors make it look like something out of a Grimm's fairy tale." (p. 21).
Kira also has special feelings for the old librarian, Mabel Canard. When Mrs. Canard dies Kira learns that the old librarian owned the Sweet Library and that it would now pass to to Kira on the condition that Kira move back to Sweet and become the librarian. Kira learns there is more to the library than she ever suspected.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Hatsley, Nivessa Rovedo. The Lively Life of Camilla Delibris, the Librarian (New York: iUniverse, c2005) 81 p.
Camilla has a new MLS and gets hired at the New Pastures Public Library in upstate New York. The library is a handsome marble affair founded in 1905 by the Van Velt family and presided over by the aged Katherine Van Velt. Two poor cousins of the Van Velt family work as librarians, Mary Patterson and Susan Westerly. Camilla is enthusiastic and well liked but she must decide if she wants to stay or go back to Brooklyn to marry her boyfriend. The novel is vigorously and entertainingly written but suffers from a lack of editing and proofreading.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Hassler, Jon. The Staggerford Flood (New York: Viking, 2002) 199 p.
Imogene Kite puts in another unpleasant appearance. She is one of a group of people who move in with Agatha McGee for a few days to avoid the high water. At last, she moves out of her mother's house and buys a condominium of her own.
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Hassler, Jon. Dear James (New York: Ballantine, 1993) 438 p.
Imogene Kite plays a much larger and more sinister part in this revisiting of Staggerford. Her character and physical appearance are thus more fully explored. She has huge hands, a long nose, and big eyes. A small slit of a mouth above her shallow chin seems to say "pipe down, this is a library!" She has moved on to become "Purchasing Coordinator" for the State Department of Education in St. Paul. She is remembered by retired school teacher Agatha McGee as "a sixth grader with an elongated body and a short temper, her nose in a book, her head full of memorized lists, her grades superb, her personality chilly. Now, turning forty, Imogene was still gawky and chilly and full of mostly useless information" (p. 111). "Imogene was a prober, a digger, a tireless follower of thin streams to their remote sources. Her tunnel vision kept her from taking in views as broad as Agatha described" (p. 112). Agatha also serves as chairwoman of the library board.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Hassler, Jon. Grand Opening (New York: Ballantine, 1988) 326 p.
The library in the small Minnesota village of Plum is open only on Saturday when the part time librarian, Melva Heffernand, is relieved from her switchboard duties by her husband. "The library was a small, stuffy room with one window. Its holdings were a hundred books, a buffalo head, and a collection of janitorial supplies--brooms, dustpans, buckets of paint and detergent. A few books were laid out on a table beneath the buffalo head; the rest stood in two small bookcases flanking the window." (p. 68).
Melva is enthralled by a writer named Edward Hodge Fleet who writes stories about physical deformities. The library has collected all of his works, but neglected such authors as Hawthorne, Cather, and Galsworthy.
The library is only a very small part of this magnificent and moving novel.
Sunday, January 29, 2017
Hassler, Jon. Staggerford (New York: Ballantine, 1977) 294 p.
This powerfully moving novel features a minor character named Imogene Kite who is director of the Staggerford (Minn.) Public Library. She is tall and angular and bears somewhat of a resemblance to Abraham Lincoln. Her librarianish features include a habit of collecting facts on many wide-ranging topics. The principal character, Miles Pruitt, attends a football game and a Halloween party with her. Imogene has no sense of humor. She spends most of her time lecturing people from her vast supply of miscellaneous knowledge. As a reader I suppose I pitied her, but I also laughed at her a bit. Near the end of the story, Imogene engages in some fund raising for the library.
Saturday, January 28, 2017
Harwood, John. The Ghost Writer (Orlando: Harcourt, c2004) 369 p.
Gerard Freeman grows up in Mawson, Australia with his mother. Eventually he earns a library science degree from Mawson University College. Gerard is curious about his family about which his mother tells him nothing. He finds stories written by his great-grandmother Viola. One of them takes place in the British Museum Reading Room. Gerard goes to London and researches at the British Library and elsewhere. It just gets creepier and creepier.
Friday, January 27, 2017
Harriss, Will. The Bay Psalm Book Murder (New York: Walker, 1983) 190 p.
Lincoln Schofield, Curator of Special Collections of "Los Angeles University" is murdered with a rare copy of the "Bay Psalm Book" in his hand. An English professor tracks down the murderer aided by the assistant librarian Akira Yonenaka. Akira is friendly, with a good sense of humor ("[my doctor] treated me for yellow jaundice for three years before he realized I'm Oriental" p. 29), but he is also scrupulously professional. Larry Archer, a librarian at the Huntington Library, also puts in an appearance to provide a clue. Archer is six foot four, broad shouldered and muscular. He is a karate expert and a sailor. The mystery centers on the suspected forgery of the Bay Psalm Book, recently donated to the library by a politician currently running for governor.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Harrison, Martyn. Losing Ground (Braintree, UK: Writing Life, 2003) 198 p.
Owen is a pathetic loser who despises everyone around him except for the young woman he is stalking. He narrates the story allowing us to witness his degradation exquisitely through his own eyes.
Vivienne, the object of his desire works in a certain sandwich shop. Owen works in the music department at a nearby public library. He has what he calls a coworker but I suspect she is his supervisor, named Maude Bramble, who
reminded me of a primary school teacher, all bosom and smiles. She was a paragon of public service, a one-woman archetype of work ethics, motivation and dedication. Her desire to serve the public was as strong as her desire to serve God. I guessed that the loose skin on her face had the sag of at least fifty years' anxiety, of painful, troubled binges of heavy sleep. Her absurdly large glasses (like goggles) were attached to a cord to prevent misplacement; her hair was short and symmetrically grizzled. Her overtly cheerful disposition was an irritant. She was visibly beaming with the prospect of guiding a young, eager recruit like me. (p. 30).
Owen's only motivation for working in the library is the chance for quiet reflection and to be near Vivienne.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Harris-Burland, J. B. The Brown Book (London: John Long, c1923) 254 p.
A wealthy financier, having purchased a library from the estate of Lord Trayle, hires John Hunter to catalog it. Hunter, along with his assistants Flavia Drake and Marion Lorme, discover a conspiracy around a mysterious brown book in the library. It turns out that Lord Trayle's librarian Richard King and his sub-librarian Arthur Rogers were involved.
Monday, January 23, 2017
Harris, Charlaine. A Fool and his Honey (Toronto: Worldwide, 2001) 253 p.
Time has passed and Aurora is now married and sporting the last name Bartell. She has decided to return to her part time job at the Lawrenceton, Georgia Public Library because she missed the books and the people. Sam is still the head librarian. Now he has her telephoning patrons with overdue books.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
Harris, Charlaine. A Bone to Pick (Toronto: Worldwide, 1994) 252 p.
Aurora has been reduced to half-time owing to budget cuts. Her work doesn't enter into the story, except that she quits her job. In subsequent books (Three Bedrooms, One Corpse and The Julius House) she is no longer a practicing librarian.
Saturday, January 21, 2017
Harris, Charlaine. Real Murders (New York: Walker, 1990) 175 p.
Aurora Teagarden is a 4'11" librarian in a small public library. Her work is not intrinsic to the story. When we find her at work she is alas shelving books. The Director is Sam Clerrick, who is interested in keeping the library open evenings. "Mr. Clerrick, with his usual efficiency and lack of knowledge of the human race, had already prepared the new duty charts and he distributed them on the spot, instead of giving everyone the chance to digest and discuss the new schedule." (p. 89).
Friday, January 20, 2017
Harkness, Deborah. A Discovery of Witches (New York: Viking, 2011) 579 p.
When a magical manuscript is found in Duke Humfrey's Reading Room of the Bodleian Library, witches, demons and vampires gather at Oxford to try to see it. The call desk is staffed by the helpful and well-organized Sean. The head librarian is Mr. Johnson.
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Hamner, Earl, Jr. Spencer's Mountain (New York: Dell, 1973, c1961) 253 p.
Clay-Boy Spencer has just finished high school in New Dominion, Va. To keep busy and earn money over the summer he organizes and runs a public library. Pages 101-108 of my paperback edition describe the library. This book was the basis of the television series "The Waltons."
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Hamilton, Masha. The Camel Bookmobile (New York: HarperCollins, c2007) 308 p.
Fiona Sweeney is a young librarian from New York working to bring books to small remote villages in Kenya.
The grass mat had been spread beneath the acacia, and the books lay in neat rows. Standing stiffly, Mr. Abasi held out the clipboard for her to record the titles that were returned and those to be checked out. A child brought a large pail turned upside down, and Fi sat, clipboard on her lap. Then Mr. Abasi nodded to Matani. As though invisible doors had swung open, the children pressed forward, adults close behind.
Mr. Abasi was speaking authoritatively—telling everyone, Fi imagined, to line up in an orderly fashion. No one listened. Excited voices rose and fused. Matani slipped among the children, translating titles, reading opening paragraphs, helping them make their choices.
Fi patiently marked off each returned book, checking its condition briefly under Mr. Abasi's eye. He seemed to consider this chore beneath him. That amused Fi. She wasn't the perfect candidate for this kind of task either—in many ways, she often thought, she had become a librarian against the odds, being neither as organized nor a detail-oriented as many of her colleagues. Nevertheless, she enjoyed this particular job in the tiny, scattered tribal communities. She liked knowing which books were being checked out most often, and which were being ignored. And she loved it when these new, unlikely library patrons held out their choices and she looked into their faces and then both her hand and theirs held the books for a breath while she recorded the titles and their names. Even if she was guilty of romanticizing it, the connection she felt to these people at that moment was a key part of what motivated her. (p. 59).
This mission of spreading knowledge becomes less simple when it turns out some villagers oppose the library. They fear the loss of ancient traditions and beliefs as young people learn other ways.
Monday, January 16, 2017
Hall, James W. Hard Aground (New York: Delacorte, 1993) 360 p.
The Coconut Grove Library in Miami plays a small but key role in this buried treasure adventure. Harry Wellborn, the reference librarian is "a man with hunched shoulders and red-tinted glasses .... He wore a red-and-green checked shirt, tan pants stained with ink and food." In response to a request for material "the man turned and went behind the counter and through a door, slogging along like he was wearing an airtank and flippers." (p. 252). Later Harry helps the protagonist push over a stack of shelving which topples domino fashion eleven more, trapping one of the bad guys. The bad guys get away, though, and steal a bookmobile as their getaway vehicle.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Hale, Arlene. Goodbye to Yesterday (Boston: Little, Brown, 1973) 226 p.
A wealthy patron offers to donate 10,000 books to the Hendricks Public Library, and assistant librarian Heather Stevens is sent to catalog them. The head librarian is Gwendolyn Brown, "a little wren of a woman, with soft brown hair and quick blue eyes, who met the problems of the library head on with surprising strength and efficiency." (p. 4). Heather must also deal with Sherwood Snyder, who has worked in the library many years and who is jealous of Heather's rapid success. Sherwood lives alone with a pet canary amid piles of books. He is a balding, "funny little man." (p. 166). Someone steals a set of Audubon books from the library.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Friday, January 13, 2017
Haddam, Jane. A Great Day for the Deadly (New York: Bantam Books, 1992) 284 p.
Glinda Daniels is the librarian in charge of the Maryville Public Library in upstate New York. She has three master's degrees in various subjects in addition to her doctorate in library science. Her volunteer assistant is Mrs. Barbara Keel who is known as “The Library Lady.” Together they discover the body of a young nun in the library meeting room.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Guilloux, Louis. Bitter Victory (New York: Robert M. McBride, c1936) 574 p. Originally published as Le Sang Noir (Paris: Gallimard, 1935) Translated from the French by Samuel Putnam.
M. Babinot supplements his income as a teacher by working at the local town library.
A filthy, rotting place, this library. To begin with, it was not a library, but an ordinary reading room.... There would be two or three old Goya hags, with high-necked whalebone collars and hatchet faces, reading the Revue des Deux Mondes through their lorgnettes, and here and there a few invalid gentlemen who for their part were content with a chat over the items in the local newspaper. At the far end of the room, in a glass cage, would be M. Babinot himself, in cutaway and toque, deeply immersed in reading a learned work, some recent acquisition, a treatise on the Yellow Peril or something of the sort. (p. 148-9).
Babinot is extremely patriotic. He once got it a fight with a man who did not salute the flag on Bastille Day.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Grimes, Martha. The Old Contemptibles (New York: Little Brown, 1991) 333 p.
There are no real librarians here, but Melrose Plant impersonates one to get a job cataloging a manorial library. His real purpose is to gather information. He walks around with index cards, making notes while people think he is indexing. No one knows or cares anything about libraries, so his is an easy job.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Griffith, Michael. Bibliophilia (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2003) p. 1-136.
This novella, published with five short stories, concerns a university in New Orleans. Myrtle is a recently hired reference librarian who lost her job as librarian at a law firm after long years of service. The head of the university library, Mort Bozeman, is obsessed with controlling reading material of a prurient nature. He keeps all such books (the list is long and includes books of art reproductions, Rabelais, and Oscar Wilde) in a locked case behind his desk. Readers need to come and explain to him why they want to check them out.
Mort becomes convinced that students are engaging in sexual acts in the library. He assigns Myrtle the task of patrolling the stacks and curtailing this behavior. To this end Myrtle acquires a very large flashlight and enrolls in a bouncer class at a local bar.
Myrtle was something of a wild girl in her own college years. She recalls the librarian of her time, Miss Ivy Berryhill,
... who had seemed to Myrtle the brittlest husk of womanhood imaginable. Miss Berryhill wore her never-cut gray-yellow hair thickly braided and crossed and recrossed over the top of her head. The braids looked like ship's hawsers, ropes as broad as a longshoreman's arm and as strong. The only changes in her appearance over the years seemed to be the addition of ever more plaits and coils and a tiny shift, perhaps (there were those, boosters of her myth, who would dispute this), in the ratio of gray to yellow. She was Medusa tightly corseted, her serpenty tresses tamed and snugged in with two dozen hairpins. Her forehead was stretched taut, and every blink or scowl looked like it might set off a chain reaction of popping pins. Miss Berryhill wore sack dresses that appeared to have been made of bedspreads thriftily resurrected; she took austere pleasure in sucking lemon-menthol candies that swathed her in an aura of medicine chest, lightly sweetened. She was lean and hard-edged, a battle-ax in button-up shoes, and she had the longest, yellowest, most spatulate fingers Myrtle had ever seen, as if made – natural selection at work – for the task of violent shushing, at which Miss Berryhill was singularly gifted." (p. 29-30).
With her new assignment Myrtle fears she is becoming Miss Berryhill.
Another member of the library staff is Seti, a student from Egypt who is very idealistic and confused by American culture.
Monday, January 9, 2017
Grierson, Edward. A Crime of One's Own (New York: Berkley Medallion, 1969, c1967) 175 p.
The back room of a large urban bookstore is used as a subscription library. The library is run by Miss Monica Ferguson and Rita Preedy. It is very popular but lately strange things have been happening. Books are being defaced. Rarely used books are being checked out repeatedly. The bookstore owner is convinced there are spies exchanging messages in his store.
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Greenbaum, Leonard. Out of Shape (New York: Harper & Row, 1969) 247 p.
This mystery takes place at the fictitious Milton State University, but it is clearly the University of Michigan. The library plays its part on p. 30-34.
The library stacks were a restful spot, a place to renew, to cast back, to see new possibilities. Looking up among the tiers of books rising ten stories through the floors, flipping the crackling papers from another century, listening to the soft pat-pat of shoes on the iron stairs, Thomas let his mind wander across the span of history into the eclectic categories of the Dewey Decimal System. When he was beset by problems, be they momentary or of long duration, deep or shallow, it was to the library stacks that his tilting feet led him, to pick up a copy of Shackleton's account of the ill-fated voyage of the brig Endurance, to study an anthropological monograph that pinpointed an ancient Indian burial mound under the coal pile outside his room, to touch upon the dry pages of Hound & Horn, unchanged in forty years. It was here in the stacks, where the rush of the world was muted by the accumulation of the past, that Thomas reached his most peaceful moments. Walden to Thoreau, Dover Beach to Arnold, LSD to Leary. None could touch the library stacks.
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Grayson, Emily. The Observatory (New York: HarperCollins, 2000) 181 p.
Liz Mallory is head librarian at the Longwood Falls Library in upstate New York. She enjoys her work, but it is really an escape from real life. “I felt safe in that building, surrounded by books--objects that comforted me almost in the way that people were meant to comfort one another.” (p. 32).
Friday, January 6, 2017
Gray, Malcolm. A Matter of Record (New York: Doubleday, 1987) 182 p.
Mary Thornton is the deputy head librarian at the Fawchester (England) branch of the county library. "She was thirty-two, a thin girl with a mop of frizzy dark hair, a rather long nose and glasses." (p. 8). She is working on a history of the town of Fawchester, but the work is cut short when she is murdered. Toward the end of the story the head librarian, Jane Baldwin is questioned briefly (p. 131).
Thursday, January 5, 2017
Gray, James. The Penciled Frown (New York: Scribner's, 1925) 297 p.
A young drama critic in a midwestern city accidentally becomes engaged to one of the local librarians. Her name is Birdie Yost and indeed she has an “apparently irrepressible habit of chirping and hopping about.” (p. 64-65). She often bobs her head with “ineffectual brightness.” (p. 156). Birdie is very interested in poetry and has written many pages of doggerel which make the young writer cringe when she insists on reading it to him. Fortunately he manages to get her to call off the engagement.
Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Grant, C.L. The Hour of the Oxrun Dead (New York: Doubleday, 1977) 182 p.
Natalie Windsor is an assistant librarian at the public library in the small New England town of Oxrun Station. Her co-workers include the young Miriam Burke and crotchety old Arlene Bains. The Library Director is an unpleasant alcoholic woman named Adriana Hall. Natalie notices that many books are disappearing from the religion sections, but Mrs. Hall refuses to consider it a problem. "we have to expect a certain amount of thievery to go on in any given year." (p. 50). The discovery of one special book hidden in the stack helps to solve this occult/romance mystery.
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Monday, January 2, 2017
Gowan, Lee. Make Believe Love (Toronto: Knopf Canada, 2001) 224 p.
When Joan Swift interviewed for the job of librarian in Broken Head, Saskatchewan, her only qualification was that she had “always loved books” (p. 17). That probably did not help her get the job. It might have been that the chairman of the library board knew her father, or it might have been that she was a beautiful redhead. She didn't go into any detail about the work but she described some of the interesting patrons. One man always had a hand in his pants. A woman who walked around like a zombie who never spoke and never checked anything out. The library is a minor part of this quirky story.