Books/Library

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library

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Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

Let me see the hands of all of you that are just dying to know the zany secrets behind your local library? That is what I thought, most of you. I have never met a book about Libraries that I haven’t liked. Well, except for those dour tomes about the Dewey Decimal system or how to get more of your community involved in your reading programs. Those books that I had to read for my Library Tech degree were boring, this one is he-larious.

Don Borchert fell into working at the library on his road to becoming a writer. He needed a job and a friend suggested that civil service was the way to go. How hard could it be? People check out books, People put them away right?

Twelve years later, Borchet tells us that the library isn’t quite what it used to be and certainly isn’t what you thought it is. Between gang bangers storing their drugs in the bathroom vents, random cab drivers dropping off lemon bars, breaking up fighting moms in the parking lot, the lady with 6 last names and late fees to go with every one of them, and more. Seriously, I laughed, coke flew out of my nose at one point and I even shed a tear or three.

Borchet’s style is much like my own. He finds humor in the wacky situations, rules and traditions of the library, like why they make children actually sign for their own card.

“Her children have already signed the forms, which we require, although we know full well that a juvenile can’t enter into a legally binding contract. They can’t go out and buy refrigerators and plasma screen televisions. They can’t cosign for a car. Their signatures mean nothing in a court of law. But we require it because we believe……hell, I’m at a loss to tell you what we believe. I don’t know why we require it. I guess it’s like college hazing rituals. It’s certainly illegal, but that’s the way we’ve always done it. It’s tradition. We’re fiddling on the roof.”

He tells it like it is and at one point left me speechless with his thoughts on Christian fiction.

“Christian Fiction.

It’s getting to be big business, this Christian fiction, but it is mostly second-rate crap with generic plots, innocuous =, pastel cover art, and two-dimensional characters hawking nondenominational, two-dimensional beliefs. It is the next big thing in the library, a genre that was non-existent just 5 years ago. If you are currently unemployed or behind in your rent, you would be advised to start writing Christian fiction, and you should probably start doing it before everyone else does. “

The above is about the only point in the book where he may have gone a bit too far, but don’t let that part scare you. A later chapter where they are realize that a little girl ran to the library rather than call 911 because at the library she felt safe, will melt your heart.

I don’t usually rate books, but if I did, this would really high.

Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert

· Paperback: 224 pages

· Publisher: Virgin Books (March 9, 2010)

· ISBN-10: 0753515016

· ISBN-13: 978-0753515013

For another Library related read, check out my review of This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson.

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Why We Read What We Read by Lisa Adams and John Heath

{A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Contemporary Bestsellers}

Adams and Heath took on a daunting task, trying to puzzle out what the best sellers of the years, 1990-2006, says about not only what we read, but what it says about us as a society. While they made some valid points, what shines through is their ability to laugh at us all with our choices.

The chapters are broken down into sections that highlight areas that Americans seem to be obsessed with in one way or another. Like ‘The Obvious’ in which they tackle Diet, Wealth, and Inspiration.

Who Moved My Cheese?: An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your LifeDr. Atkins New Diet Revolution

From books like ‘Who My Cheese’ to ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ we are nothing but a society that wants to do better and be better, but only when the tips are given to us in easy to digest small simple pieces.

We all want to feel better and the juggernaut that was Chicken Soup for the Soul is there in every incantation to do just that. They give us hope and show us that our lives aren’t the only ones that suck, but it is all a matter of perspective. The right attitude will get you far in life, says Yoda.

Diet books…do we have to talk about the fads and crazy ideas out there? Diet books sell like hot cakes and if they say that they will get you thin without very little work, they sell like hotcakes with delicious maple syrup on them. What they don’t tell you is that any diet of health regime takes time. Most people just want the quick fix and when that doesn’t work, they are off to buy the next diet fad.

Just some of the other chapters:

3 – Black and White and Read All Over: Good and Evil in Bestselling Adventure Novels and Political Fiction (shows us that we hate evil and in books we like it very well defined. Serial killer=evil)

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6)Product Details The Brethren

4 – Hopefully Ever After: Love, Romance, and Relationships (There is something for everyone here, even if you are from Mars, I am from Venus, and Dr. Laura is blaming all problems on feminism)

MEN ARE FROM MARS- WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS

5 – Soul Train: Religion and Spirituality (Faith, have you got it? Need me to point it out for you?)

While the approach of the book was tongue in cheek and therefore entertaining, I can’t help it think that the authors were judging us all by our reading and finding it lacking. There was so much text of the books that they were discussing that it made for a long drawn out read. I could have lived without that. The book could have easily been cut by 100 pages or more and been better for me. I was looking for more about why we read what we read, not fads, trends, doublespeak and trashing of the best selling books/authors.

Am I glad that I read it? Honestly, I could have passed on this one.

Why We Read What We Read by Lisa Adams and John Heath

Paperback: 340 pages

Publisher: Sourcebooks, Inc.; 1 edition (October 1, 2007)

ISBN-10: 140221054X

ISBN-13: 978-1402210549

This Book is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson

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This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
If one of your first loves was the library and it still is, you will want to read this. Funny, engaging and surprisingly informative Johnson has written a book that shows us all that libraries and librarians are far from extinct in the age of the internet.
Librarians are no longer that old spinster peering at you over the card catalog, they are living breathing resources that not only are still here to serve, but also to expand your understanding of everything.
Highlighting librarians that blog, fought the Patriot Act, achievers Second Life libraries and emerging uses of what we thought was old news, Johnson made me proud to be a patron.
Some blogs and sites that she highlighted:

You owe it to yourself to read this. Really, you owe it to your Librarian.
This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (February 2, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0061431605
ISBN-13: 978-0061431609

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