Wednesday, February 6, 2008

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

Ever wanted to know what REALLY goes on at your local public library?
First-time author Don Borchert fills you in and lets it rip in Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library. This amusing and informative book tells all--or at least exposes some of the dirty little secrets hidden in plain sight--if you care to look.

Through dozens of anecdotes, veteran library assistant Borchert, who works at a branch of the Torrance (CA) Public Library system, shares his grizzled wisdom and tells us how things really work at the library. Many questions are posited and answered. What exactly is "the renaissance patron"? How do you handle cross-dressing, crackhead trannies in the parking lot? What does the mysterious MMM in your patron record mean? Each chapter addresses various issues such as the civil servant's cycle of life, the Friends of the Library, illegal activity, wild animals in the library and so forth.

Mr. Borchert's writing style is at times clever but often tiring as he tries a bit too hard to impress. Opinions about everything and everyone abound--sometimes ad nauseum. But these are mostly small quibbles with what was overall an amusing look into the life and times of a typical library and its staff. Ultimately, he conveys a real sense of appreciation and passion for his life's work. As someone who has worked in public libraries for over 14 years, I too can attest to the small triumphs, the frustrations and the satisfaction of working in one of the best professions in the world.

If you are interested in what others had to say about the book, here a few links to other reviews.

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