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

Harris, Narelle M. The Opposite of Life (Brisbane, Qld: Pulp Fiction Press, c2007) 270 p.
Lissa Wilson is a young librarian at a local public library in Melbourne. When she becomes involved with vampires she goes to the State Library for research.

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

Hannah, Kristin. Comfort & Joy (New York: Ballantine, c2005) 237 p.
Joy Faith Candellaro is a high school librarian in Bakersfield, California. Her assistant is Rayla Goudge. Joy is not in the library much but she teaches an 8-year old boy to read. 

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

Haddock, Lisa. Edited Out (Tallahassee, Fla: Naiad Press, 1994) 213 p.
Julia Nichols is a young library clerk at the Frontier City (Okla.) Times. She assists a copy editor in solving a mystery.

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

Granger, Ann. Say It With Poison (New York: St. Martin's, 1991) 215 p.
A Librarian named Mrs. Hartman at the Bamford Library offers evidence in a murder case.

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.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Gosling, Paula. Hoodwink (London: Macmillan, 1988) 252 p.
Molly Pemberton is a librarian who likes to help the police solve crimes.