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.