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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Douglas launched his career as a page in a library branch, and never wholly losing his enthusiasm, he persevered, got an education, and now works as a librarian at Southern California’s Anaheim Public Library. For several years, he has been documenting his experiences on McSweeney’s Web site, giving vent to all the hopes, fears, everyday joys, and constant frustrations of daily life in a public library branch. Patrons with all their foibles take on recognizable form, from rowdy, sometimes threatening teens to an elderly patron demanding the Oxford English Dictionary on audiotape. Douglas casts a jaundiced eye on library administrators, but he does clear away stereotypes about public-service librarians and affirms their worth. Hardly a systematic treatise on public librarianship and limited by the very format of a blog (and its ineluctable narcissism), Douglas’ memoir nevertheless offers unique and utterly engaging insights, valuable for public librarians, managers, and trustees. --Mark Knoblauch