Thursday, April 3, 2008

Booklist, etc.

All the big library journals/magazines have reviewed my book. One loved it, one liked it, and one...well judge for yourself. And if you get the time, please write a review of yourself on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you shop for books. There are some pretty big reviews coming in the next couple weeks, but they haven't been published, so I can't talk about them quite yet.

Booklist - Reviewed April 1, 2008
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

Publishers Weekly -Reviewed week of 3/24/08
McSweeny’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. (Mar.)

Library Journal - Reviewed week of 3/11/08
Verdict: This self-described "humor memoir" provides a mostly enjoyable glimpse into the sometimes maddening world of public librarianship. Footnotes, asides ("short pointless interludes"), and other McSweeney’s-esque touches can be grating; acknowledgement that "many things…have been exaggerated to make this book more entertaining" affirms a not-always-reliable narrator. Smirkier than Don Borchert’s wry library memoir Free for All, it nonetheless provides real insight—assuming you can believe it. Click here for Douglas’s blog.
Background: A college student who fell into a job as a public library page, then went to library school at 23, Douglas, now a 28-year-old Anaheim Public Library (CA) staffer and McSweeney’s contributor, looks skeptically at the value of his LIS education. Life in the library runs the gamut, including bureaucratic slogging (staff committees, grant writing), minor crisis (rats, masturbators, crazy patrons), and productive work. Douglas holds forth on fellow librarians—they lack social skills and don’t read—but more productively applies his skepticism to a fast-food chain plumping summer reading or politicians who neglect the library. Still, a broad variety of patrons—kids, teens, seniors, immigrants, the homeless—make use of the library and harvest his sincerity: "I was staying because I liked helping people."—Norman Oder

Stephen M. Cohen @ LibraryStuff also posted his thoughts on the book March 31st.
I received a preview copy and finished it awhile ago, but forgot to blog about it. Shame on me because it was fantastic. There were probably many times throughout the reading where the passengers sitting near me (I only have time to read on the train) wanted to complain because I laughed out loud every 5 minutes. In fact, I almost spit up my Red Bull a few times.
I have always been a fan of Scott’s so I was thrilled to read more from him, and it’s not because I agree with him most of the time. In fact, I booed (in jest, of course) when he changed his mind sometimes about his reactions to certain library services. To each his own, for sure.
So, go out and take this book out of the library, although I wonder if Scott would want you to buy it so he can retire early. Either way, it will be a quick and worthwhile read.


Roland Saint-Laurent said...

Scott, truth be told, I only really got into the book when your stories became "prurient." These numbnuts don't know what their talking about.

Anonymous said...

Write a review of myself? Okay. I'm awesome. Taut. Lyrical.

Anonymous said...

Scott, the most important thing is that your work is not being ignored. Reviews are what librarians go by when ordering. If they never read about your book, then they can't order it. As a former acquisitions librarian myself, you can trust me on that. You simply want to be noticed. Your reviews are basically good ones. So congrats!

Jacqueline Seewald
Five Star/Gale