Quiet, Please
Scott Douglas
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Buy *Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian* by Scott Douglas online

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian
Scott Douglas
Da Capo Press
330 pages
March 2008
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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It’s hard to take a break from laughing in this book – you’ll need to step away from the book and distract yourself with some mundane task to let your stomach rest. Scott Douglas lets us in on his life as a librarian. It’s not pretty at times, but in the end, it is rewarding.

It all started when Scott Douglas sees the ad “Do You Like Books?” He applies for the library job and begins work as a page in a small branch library, where one of his first duties is cutting paper. Although he is baffled by the librarian who doesn’t have time to read, the patrons fascinate him. His image of what a library is and what is means to be a librarian changes, but he sees himself as part of that world. He applies for a grant and starts attending library school. While working towards his MLIS degree, he works as a library technician. During this time, the roles of a librarian expand for him as he sees how important libraries are in their communities.

A day at work is always unpredictable. The new Gateway PCs bring anguish to some workers but a sense of power to others. The free popcorn days attract droves of kids, but it also brings out Fred the Rat. On any day, patrons might utter death threats or words of praise. Some want to talk, while others only want to complain. The crazy days, the boring days, and the meaningful days are all recounted to entertain the reader and give us a little insight into the day to day life of a public librarian. Although Scott has more then his share of bad encounters with patrons and staff, he continues to work in a library, graduate with his degree, and move onto other branches. He helps move a branch that is closing down, then comes back to work there when it reopens. It’s while working at this newly built branch, getting to know his community all over again, that his life changes. He sees himself as a librarian, and he falls in love.

The chapters are Dewey Decimal Numbers. Chapter one is 372.6 LIB, and the last is 643.7 LIB. Amusing footnotes are found on the bottom of almost every page, and every chapter has a break in the main text called “For Shelving.” Both the footnotes and the “For Shelving” writings expand upon the main stories in the book. They fill in missing details or add a little background information to something referred to previously on the page. After being asked to read to a class of students in the library, one footnote reads “Years earlier I had worked as an after school child care substitute and read a story to about 10 kids; I was never asked to do it again. And once, I babysat a six-year-old who asked me to stop reading so he wouldn’t have bad dreams.” The “For Shelving” topics include small paragraphs on children’s literature, popcorn, the library wall Scott Bug, and Web 2.0. In many cases, just when I had stopped laughing from an earlier paragraph, these extra bits of writing would start me laughing all over again.

Scott Douglas is a librarian working at a public library in Anaheim, California. A contributor to McSweeney’s, Scott Douglas is engaged to a library assistant. His library inspired wedding invitations were posted February 7, 2008, in Library Journal’s online blog, LJ Insider.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. © Tanya Boudreau, 2008

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