Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

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9780786720910: Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian
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For most of us, librarians are the quiet people behind the desk, who, apart from the occasional shush,” vanish into the background. But in Quiet, Please, McSweeney's contributor Scott Douglas puts the quirky caretakers of our literature front and center. With a keen eye for the absurd and a Kesey-esque cast of characters (witness the librarian who is sure Thomas Pynchon is Julia Roberts's latest flame), Douglas takes us where few readers have gone before. Punctuated by his own highly subjective research into library history-from Andrew Carnegie's Gilded Age to today's Afghanistan-Douglas gives us a surprising (and sometimes hilarious) look at the lives which make up the social institution that is his library.

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About the Author:

Scott Douglas is a librarian at the Anaheim Public Library, a job he has been chronicling for the McSweeney's Web site since 2003.

From Publishers Weekly:

McSweeney's contributor Douglas was a college student who liked books and needed a job, so he became a page in a "run-down" Anaheim public library. He soon discovered the "dark truth about librarians"-that they don't actually read much. Still, lacking better career plans, he accepted a state grant to get a degree in library science. The more he got to know his local branch, the more it felt like "watching a soap"; the staff was "like a family." When he's not repeating petty tales of staff infighting, Douglas focuses on four types of library users: teens, homeless people, crazy people and the elderly. According to him, most of them smell, all but the elderly make too much noise, and they all, in defiance of library rules, try to access pornography on the internet. After retelling a story of someone masturbating at the computer, or of nefarious activities in the public restroom, the author is quick to follow up with proud words about being a non-discriminatory public servant; his pieties wear thin after awhile. Early on, when Douglas realizes he's a librarian because he loves helping people he's quite likeable, but when his stories become prurient, it's a turn-off.
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