Libraries and Librarians in Literature

If you’re looking for evildoing in literature, you might not find much of it in books that feature librarians, library users, and library scenes. Heck, evildoers who want to research their future evildoing probably do it on their home computers…

So, with libraries in lit, you often get characters who are likable and intelligent and other good things. Which might mean a little less drama, but still some nice reading. Nothing wrong with that once in a while!

For instance, it’s appropriate that Novalee Nation, a working-class woman always open to learning more, meets another kind person in a library. He is Forney Hull, who has a major impact on Novalee’s life after she was abandoned in Oklahoma by her no-good boyfriend in Billie Letts’ Where the Heart Is.

The also-working-class protagonist of Jack London’s Martin Eden makes the ambitious transition from sailor to writer partly by spending countless hours in the library educating himself.

In L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, Valancy Stirling likes to visit the library to get the latest book by her favorite author — an author who will affect her life in a way she can never imagine.

Chicago librarian Henry DeTamblen involuntarily jumps around in time in Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife. Another book in that genre, Darryl Brock’s If I Never Get Back, includes a poignant library scene in which the late-20th-century protagonist Sam Fowler sees a photo of the all-dead 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings team he had recently grown to know in person.

Then there’s Carol Milford, who worked as a librarian for several years before moving to Gopher Prairie, Minn., to live with her new husband Dr. Will Kennicott in Sinclair Lewis’ Main Street. The liberal, free-spirited Carol tries to bring change to the narrow-minded, fixed-in-its-ways town, but is totally thwarted — ironically, even by a local librarian who doesn’t encourage reading. Can anyone say “wrong profession”?

Also less pleasant than most librarians is Hogwarts’ strict keeper-of-the-books Irma Pince in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels. Heck, she even makes it hard for Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore to use that wizard school’s library.

While Robin Sloan’s novel is more about a San Francisco bookstore, a secret society’s private library in New York City plays a significant role in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.

At-home private libraries are ruthlessly burned in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451; a monastery library figures prominently in Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose; Mr. Rochester impersonates a gypsy during a memorable Thornfield Hall library scene in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre; the library is visited a number of times in Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter; a college library is one locale in Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys; and the main branch of the New York Public Library is mentioned in Jack Finney’s From Time to Time.

In the nonfiction realm, a memorable book is the poignant Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron with Bret Witter. The formerly abandoned Dewey lives in an Iowa library, and becomes a feline celebrity.

There’s also The Autobiography of Malcolm X, the classic written with Alex Haley, in which the civil-rights leader recalls educating himself with the help of a prison library.

What are your favorite literary works featuring librarians, library users, and/or library scenes? Also welcome are your general thoughts on the value of libraries, your worries about adequate funding of these wonderful institutions, your recollections of library experiences, etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

(The box for submitting comments is below already-posted comments, but your new comment will appear at the top of the comments area โ€” unless youโ€™re replying to someone else.)

Note: Later this month, I have relatives visiting and then a conference, so I’ll probably skip doing June 21 and June 28 blog posts. I’ll still reply to comments posted under this June 14 column, though at times more slowly — and will definitely put up a new column the evening of Sunday, July 5!

For three years of my Huffington Post literature blog, click here.

I’m writing a literature-related book, but still selling Comic (and Column) Confessional — my often-funny memoir that recalls 25 years of covering and meeting cartoonists such as Charles Schulz (“Peanuts”) and Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”), columnists such as Ann Landers and “Dear Abby,” and other notables such as Hillary Clinton, Coretta Scott King, Walter Cronkite, and various authors. The book also talks about the malpractice death of my first daughter, my remarriage, and life in Montclair, N.J. — where I write the award-winning weekly “Montclairvoyant” humor column for The Montclair Times. You can email me at to buy a discounted, inscribed copy of the book, which contains a preface by “Hints” columnist Heloise and back-cover blurbs by people such as “The Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson.

122 thoughts on “Libraries and Librarians in Literature

  1. Dave, you’re amazing. Just read the end of this post. No wonder you bring so much to your posts) and not just the content, the idea. Growing up in a new and also newly deprived area we had no library for many years but I always had books, but it was a great treat when the Community Centre was built and one room was a library. A tone point I worked in a library where I was never out of trouble for taking cartloads of books home. Then i have to confess I was sacked from along with some others for running a drinking den behind the scenes–talking librarians…. .

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My mother was associate director of a major medical library, my father was a tireless collector of books in his field, so much so that now there is an entire room at the university where he taught dedicated to the books he donated– named for him. I was the manager of an tape archive for a record label for seven-plus years. Libraries, their contents, and their personnel are close to my heart indeed.

    My favorite fiction involving a library is by another favorite, ETA Hoffmann, whose novella, The Golden Flower Pot, centers on the doings and holdings of antiquarian and mystic Archivarius Lindhorst, and his wish to have “manuscripts, partly Arabic, Coptic, and some of them in strange characters, which do not belong to any known tongue” copied, by “an expert calligrapher”, of course, the story being written a 140 years before xerox. Magic, shape-shifting serpents, a witch’s curse,”rare, wondrous flowers”, sourceless light, “multi-colored birds”– what’s not like?
    A fantastic tale fantastically told.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You definitely have libraries in your DNA and on your rรฉsumรฉ, jhNY! And what an honor for your father to have had a university room of books named after him.

      That ETA Hoffmann book sounds amazing. Thanks for describing it. Must. Go. On. My. Reading. List. ๐Ÿ™‚


      • It’s only 70 pages long, and it’s included in Dover Publications’ “The Best Stories of Hoffmann”. Hope you get a chance to read it– there’s really nothing like it, except in flashes– in other Hoffmann tales.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Morning Dave…The book is ” In One Person” by John Irving his latest novel with his typical theme of pleasure and understanding the pain and vulnerability of the main character.
    The author writes as William in his 70`s a celebrated novelist, going back to his early years and growing up as vulnerable young Billy Dean who was bisexual .
    Then comes the town librarian Miss Frost who knew nothing of Billyโ€™s sexual anguish as he tries to check out โ€œGreat Expectationsโ€ for the second time. Billy was 15 then and wanted to be a writer and was drawn to Miss Frost and desired her .
    Now Ms. frost turns out to be Big Al, undefeated wrestling champion, now choosing to live as a woman. It was a small town so the adults knew but pretended they did not.
    When Billy finally sleeps with Miss Frost for the first time, he believed she was a woman.
    A woman with a penis. and the story continues..

    Dave we are in a age of Bruce Jenner and now Caitlyn Jenner in real life and media is taken in by her life and choices he made all throughout her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • bebe, it’s great that the great John Irving has a librarian character! “In One Person” has been on my to-read list a long time (on your recommendation), but I haven’t quite gotten to it yet. Your summary/description is excellent. Irving never hesitates to humanely write about all kinds of weighty topics (sexuality, war, race, abortion, etc.) via his memorable characters — while also being very interesting and entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a complex book as I have mentioned before dave and never perhaps made on of the top seller but the book fits so well in the world we live in.
        But always makes in NYT`s review which begins as โ€œWe are formed by what we desire,โ€ says Billy Dean, the fatherless narrator and chief hero of John Irvingโ€™s 13th novel, โ€œIn One Person.โ€

        Liked by 1 person

          • Morning Dave..recently Library have recruited another volunteer, one young man in high school with Down Syndrome, his hours were different so I never had a chance to meet Tom.
            Finally I had a chance evidently off school now he wants to come on Mondays. I simply introduced myself and didn’t want to confuse him much. Everyone adores him…what I understand the day before he chooses his outfit and he comes well dressed and takes his job so seriously.
            What a wonderful addition ๐Ÿ˜‰

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          • Hi Dave..hope you are having a great conference and meeting a lot of your friends and colleagues.
            Today we had a huge book sell from Friends of the Library at a junior high. It was beautifully organized by the volunteers who work year round tirelessly with books rejected by library ( too many) or donations.
            My mission was to find ” Low Land”, was not there, asked some of them. One lady overheard me saying she is reading it now and not finished yet and loving it. Then she started handing over other books ” Namesake”, ” Unaccustomed Earth”
            The second one I have not, have you read any one of them ?
            If you haven`t I could mail you ” Namesake” `cause i already have it.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Hi, bebe! Thanks for your comment! I’m enjoying the conference a lot, and seeing many writers I know. Very long (fun) days, which you could probably guess at given how long it took me to reply. ๐Ÿ™‚

              That sounds like a fantastic book sale! But sorry they didn’t have “The Lowland.” I did read “The Namesake”; thanks for the kind offer, though. I have not read “Unaccustomed Earth” — is that a collection of stories, like “Interpreter of Maladies”?

              Liked by 1 person

              • I suppose Dave..I have to read the review first..but I hope it is not full of sad stories…I can`t do it now.
                I`ll keep the book then , oh brainstorm…I know a teen , my friends daughter..11 th grade now, i`ll gift it to her. She is an accomplished teen, fantastic dancer, now taking ballet, piano player and what not, hope she gets into a great school. Her mom is all stressed out considering the age of her daughter.
                So many time I gift the girl with cosmetics her mom does not use any but the girl likes them , so she could experiment with different products. ๐Ÿ˜€

                I might go back to the book sale today to look for Kurt Vonnegutโ€™s books.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Afternoon Dave…yesterday was my second trip to the Book sale… Kurt Vonnegut, or Low Land. So I focused myself on John Grisham`s ” The Racketeer” which I have read .
                Then there was the book staring at me , hard bound looking brand new. Suddenly a man I thought a bit loopy said…”oh my wife wanted the book so badly, i have a list from her with me, unless you want it so badly could i have it ? ”
                I was stunt my his attitude..he had said something to me earlier which made me a bit annoyed already. Anyways I handed him the book and said ” take it”.

                Basically later I ended up being upset with my stupidity…for giving him the book, the man was neither decent nor polite.


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                • Hi, bebe! Answering you from a hotel in Ohio — a state you may have heard of. ๐Ÿ™‚

                  That man WAS rude and pushy. Sorry you had to deal with him. In situations like that, I have reacted the same way at times. Not-nice people often take advantage of nice people. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • Was talking to a friend who was there day before, she said she would be upset too but wouln`t have given him the book, the man crossed the boundaries.
                    Then Cara would have said..let it go ๐Ÿ™‚
                    I saw an awesome picture of you Dave looks like it was a very productive conference.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • He definitely crossed the boundaries, bebe. Sometimes I’m so surprised and/or uncomfortable in those situations that I “give up” just to make things stop — and later regret it. So I understand what happened with you.

                      As for the photo (in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum?) — that was kind of fun. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

                      Liked by 1 person

          • “We are formed by what we desire” reminds me of Kurt Vonnegut’s self-proclaimed moral to his great early novel, ‘Mother Night’: “We are what we pretend to be. Therefore, we must be very careful about what we pretend to be.”

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Dave, when I was younger the most common reference to a library in the fantasy stories I read was some legendary library or the king’s library. These always read like the author’s fantasy library. Something so massive it should look like the library from Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast.” This is a wonderful thought to have but it fascinates me since its this thing which couldn’t have existed in the real world at a similar technological level.

    Now days we can have those massive libraries on our phones but we struggle to have the number of physical texts to come close to even the Medicci’s 3000.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Howdy, Dave!

    โ€” What are your favorite literary works featuring librarians, library users, and/or library scenes? โ€”

    At the very palpitating heart of Isaac Asimovโ€™s โ€œFoundationโ€ trilogy โ€” consisting of โ€œFoundation,โ€ โ€œFoundation and Empireโ€ and โ€œSecond Foundationโ€ โ€” is the fabled Library of Trantor, without which the author and multiple characters would have had to do a great deal of replotting, as any psychohistorian could have told you three score and two years ago.

    โ€” Also welcome are your general thoughts on the value of libraries, your worries about adequate funding of these wonderful institutions, your recollections of library experiences, etc. โ€”

    I attended one of the worst high schools in the history of the world, where I espied in its terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad library nary a trace of Asimovโ€™s โ€œFoundationโ€ trilogy or anything like it, and thus was forced to read almost every word written by Andre Norton, who nearly strangled in its infancy my interest in the genre of science fiction. However, I also attended one of the best junior colleges in the history of central New Jersey, where the highfalutin-sounding Learning Resource Center encompassed within its brick-and-mortar walls turntables, headphones and a well-worn (by me) long-playing vinyl record of The Beatlesโ€™ โ€œSgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,โ€ which made studying a resplendent highlight of my day.

    Libraries in the sky with diamonds, indeed.

    J.J. (Alias MugRuith1)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, J.J.! Very appropriate that a library is in that iconic Isaac Asimov trilogy. After all, the guy wrote and edited something like 500-plus books.

      A bad high school with a bad library — not good. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But it sounds like some good times at that junior college’s Learning Resource Center. “Libraries in the sky with diamonds” — LOL!

      After seeing your quip, I tried to think of songs that actually mention libraries. There’s Green Day’s “At the Library,” but I couldn’t come up with any others — though a Google search revealed some obscure ones (obscure to me, a least ๐Ÿ™‚ ).


      • โ€” After seeing your quip, I tried to think of songs that actually mention libraries. โ€”

        Tears For Fearsโ€™ โ€œHead Over Heelsโ€ ( ranks as my No. 1 all-time favorite library-related music video, which reminds me that one of my best friends married a librarian who worked at the college where I spent my junior and senior years:


        • I know the song, J.J., but I had never seen the video before. A very interesting one, and I love seeing all the books — as well as the monkey sporting a Red Sox shirt!

          Having a librarian as a spouse? Sounds like a good idea!


          • โ€” I know the song, J.J., but I had never seen the video before. โ€”

            A better song but a worse storyline appears in my No. 2 all-time favorite library-related music video, Totoโ€™s โ€œAfricaโ€ (

            โ€” I love seeing all the books โ€” as well as the monkey sporting a Red Sox shirt! โ€”

            As a fan of the New York Yankees, I will forgo the obligatory observation about a chimp in such garb.

            โ€” Having a librarian as a spouse? Sounds like a good idea! โ€”

            Apparently so. As I recall, the wedding ceremony was conducted in Jupiter โ€” not the planet in this stellar system between Mars and Saturn but the town in Florida betwixt Palm Beach and Stuart โ€” about quarter a century ago, and they were still on their honeymoon as of last month. Nice!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Nice library images — and one has to like those enormous books serving as a stage for the band!

              I’m not a fan of any Major League baseball team anymore, but I enjoy seeing a monkey wearing any team shirt. And the Red Sox were World Chimps…um..World Champs not that long ago.

              Great that the marriage you mentioned has lasted so long! Hopefully, they’re not Miami Marlins fans… ๐Ÿ™‚

              I thoroughly enjoyed your comment, J.J.!


  6. Dave! LOVE this column (as always)! Some of my fondest childhood memories were hanging out in the library during summer vacation. I even loved the way it smelled! And I loved seeing the skull and crossbones on the book spines; mysteries have always been my favorites.

    Roz Warren’s new book, “Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor” is a terrific book on library experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Cathy, for the kind words and excellent comment!

      A library can be magic for kids, and near-magic for adults. Also, I agree about the scent of aging books; maybe they should spray that scent on Kindles. ๐Ÿ™‚

      I haven’t read Roz Warrenโ€™s new book, but knowing her expertise in writing and humor, I’m sure it’s tremendous. And very relevant to this conversation!


  7. Hi Dave … Hope you’re having a great week so far. For some reason, “All the President’s Men” — the book and the movie — comes to mind. Woodward and Bernstein spent a lot of time in the library doing research, as I recall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s right, Pat! Though I haven’t seen the film in a long time, I can picture Robert Redford (Woodward) and Dustin Hoffman (Bernstein) poring through various documents. Of course, nowadays a lot of their research would be done online.

      Thanks for the excellent addition to this discussion — and I hope you’re having a great Monday, too!


  8. An ode to the readers guide to periodical literature. The more innocent days when you had to actually go to a library,sit with stacks of books,ferret out information with fear of not plagiarizing when writing a report for school/college ,then going home to type the paper. Today one can easily not set foot in a library, just cut and paste from their computer,no tactile interaction,no contemplation,relaxation and quiet that was the library when I was younger. I can speak for my library now, not all quiet on the western front,at least on first floor. What happened to silence at a library ,a peaceful environment? I understand people need to ask questions,etc..but when I was younger it involved lowering one’s voice in respect to being in a library where people were studying,reading,getting away from the hustle and bustle. Floor two seems to be a bit more civilized with not as much idle chatter,people speaking in lower tones,using computers and such. But proper manners has fallen by the waste side.
    My contribution to this post is a library scene at The NY Public Library in Breakfast At Tiffanys,Holly go lightly was indeed cerebral and used books as a distraction when love was professed by a paramour.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “The Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature”! Wow — haven’t thought of that in years, Michele!

      Yes, there was a time — evoked very descriptively by you — when print materials in a library were much more necessary. Plus those file-card indexes of books. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was all rather cumbersome, but kind of fun in its way.

      And thanks for the mention of the “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” library scene!


  9. Hi Dave, I must admit that this one had me.stumped, so I will also admit that I googled books about libraries/librarians. I only looked at maybe four sites, but I think the only one on all of those sites was “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” a book I know has been mentioned on this blog several times in the past (at least once by me). I also think there is something about the library and Hermione in the Harry Potter books, but I’m having trouble coming up with specific references. When it comes to mysteries, there is Louise Penny’s wonderful Armand Gamache of the Quebec Surete series, whose lovely wife is a librarian. In Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Luce series, Flava refers constantly to her deceased uncle’s collection of chemistry books, which help her to whip up batches of arsenic or other concoctions. to torment her older sisters. One of her sisters spends all of her time in the vast library of their decaying mansion, reading all of the time (I think in one of books she was rereading “Middlemarch” for the umpteenth time), Then of course there is the one that should have come to mind first, “The Body in the Library” by Agatha Christie, a book I’ve read several times and watched on DVD at least four times. Actually there are quite a few mysteries that the murders took place in a library!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kat Lib, I realize librarians are not as plentiful as many other professions in literature, so thank you for coming up with the ones you did! And, as you know, I’m someone who doesn’t read a lot of mysteries, so it’s interesting to hear that libraries are periodically the settings for the dastardly deed. ๐Ÿ™‚ That Agatha Christie book certainly is pretty direct about where the body is!

      I have a feeling “Middlemarch” has been mentioned in several novels — also including Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence”! Well-deserved mentions, I might add. And I imagine that George Eliot, being a prodigious researcher and scholar, spent a LOT of time in libraries.


      • OK, another typo — “play” instead of “place”! I’m sitting here in the car dealership while my car is being worked on, ugh! I have an upgraded tablet and while some features are better, the typing screen is even worse than the last one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes, apparently the library is the perfect place in an older mansion to murder or even leave a body (especially in British mysteries).

        When I graduated from college in 1971 with a perfectly useless BA. degree in history, I went to talk to a counselor at the University of Minnesota about getting a MA. degree in Library Science, but they had a one-year waiting list and were not even taking applications. So life intervened and I never got back to my dream. Oh, well!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Typo just fixed — which I also hope will be the case with your car. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Actually, your car may just be getting a checkup for all I know.) Having automobile stuff done is no fun.

          I realize working on a tablet (or a smartphone) is a whole other ballgame from working on a laptop or desktop computer.

          Interesting how fate helps determine our professions — as was the case with you not immediately getting into that library science program. At one point, I left journalism to teach in a New York City public school, and was laid off my first day when teachers with seniority bumped several people. I ended up getting my old job back. ๐Ÿ™‚


          • Well, Dave, my adventure at the car dealership had to do with the dreaded “Service Engine Soon”: light that came on last Friday, the cause of that due to a valve vent, that had also occurred last year, so I paid nothing due to it still being under warranty. While there of course they told me my back brakes weren’t good, which I also remember them telling me six months ago, so I had that taken care of as well as an oil change, so along with my “rewards” dollars, it wasn’t that much of a shock to me. I never play around with safety issues with my car.

            As to my tablet, It’s beyond me how one can come out with an “upgrade” that is worse than what it replaced!

            When one talks about libraries, I still remember that special smell of used books. I remember those Saturday morning trips with my mother and some of my siblings to our local library to pick out the new books for the week. What a special occasion!

            Liked by 1 person

            • Service/warning lights on the dashboard — never pleasant. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ But as you say, Kat Lib, those things have to be taken care of.

              As for upgrades to digital stuff, sometimes they make things better and sometimes they make things worse, but they’re ALWAYS designed to increase corporate profits. (I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

              Last but not least, I loved your paragraph about libraries! Nice to have an institution that’s mostly positive amid so many institutions with lots of negatives (corporations, Congress, the police, etc.).


  10. In Part I of Richard Wright’s autobiography Black Boy, he spoke about his love of reading and writing while growing up in Mississippi, and the less-than-nurturing environment he lived in with family members who did not support his passions.

    His maternal grandmother was very religious. In her world, the only book that mattered was the bible. Any book that Wright brought into the house was destroyed by his grandmother. She considered his writing of secular short stories as a sin. Wright’s mother understood the value of learning, but she was careful in how she supported him in order to avoid the religious backlash of her mother.

    Richard Wright’s father moved the family to Memphis in the mid 1920s. They lived in an apartment near Beale Street. After his father abandoned the family, Richard Wright took a series of jobs to support himself and the family. He worked as a dishwasher, delivery person, and ran errands for employees in an optical lens company. In between his various jobs, he continue to read and pursue his passion for writing short stories.

    Black Boy is an incredible novel, but there is a very memorable part that I always thought about everytime I visited a library when I lived in Memphis. The local newspaper in Memphis is the Commercial Appeal. Richard Wright used to stop by a bank near his job to pick up a free copy of the paper in the lobby. One article he read in the paper was an editorial on H.L. Mencken. This article got Wright interested in Mencken’s works. He knew that going to the library would provide the best opportunity to read more.

    Now keep in mind this was 1920ish Memphis…blacks were not allowed to use most public facilities even though their tax dollars financially supported those facilities. Reading was absolutely out of the question. Wright was taking a chance even picking up free copies of the Commercial Appeal, so going to the library to check out anything by H.L. Mencken was forbidden.

    Wright devised a plan to get around those policies. He asked his boss, an Irish Catholic immigrant who wasn’t particularly a favourite of white Southerners, to help him get library books. Richard’s boss admired the way he risked life and livelihood just to read. This was the plan they came up with: Mr. Falk (Wright’s boss) took out a library card in his wife’s name. He gave his library card to Wright. They wrote a note similar to the previous notes Mr. Falk gave him when he wanted certain books from the library. Richard took the note that specified books by Mencken, went to the library, and received the books he wanted.

    Mr. Falk allowed Richard Wright to use his card as frequently as he wanted. Wright returned to the library on several occasions to check out books by H.G. Wells, T.S. Eliot, Sinclair Lewis, O. Henry, Alexandre Dumas, and others. This opened up a whole new world for him.

    In the late 90s, (I think it was 1998), author William Miller wrote Richard and the Library Card. It was published as a short story, and told the story of Wright’s plan to gain access to library books. The fact this was even carved out of the Black Boy autobiography and re-written as a separate short story lets you know just how powerful that part of his story/life was.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A wonderfully descriptive comment, Ana, about Richard Wright’s thirst for reading — and his successful plan to get library books.

      What happened with Wright in Memphis is yet another example of just how disgusting racism was/is. Wright, with help from his employer, managed to do an end-run around not being able to personally use the library. But I wonder how many African-Americans at that time and place couldn’t circumvent Jim Crow laws. Perhaps some other authors-to-be who never became authors. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ


  11. Dave…love the I have said to you before after taking early retirement to peruse my other interest and later after moving to OH I started volunteering for last seven years at the public library. Love it take it as a job and I am basically the only one there, often patrons assume me as a staff because I try to help out.

    I’ll have a book to discuss later but as librarians are portrayed in some books..I observe the staff are hard working in our branch..and I might add physically very attractive women which is interesting ( not trying to be shallow ) ๐Ÿ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, bebe! I thought about you when I wrote this column. Wonderful that you’ve volunteered for SEVEN YEARS at the library! It’s so great when one can do work one wants to do rather than one has to do (to make a living). And you really ARE staff, minus the pay.

      Librarians do work hard, even more so in recent years as budget cuts decrease many a library staff. (I have several relatives who are librarians or retired librarians.)

      Not sure what I can say about the looks of staffers at my local library, but the books are very attractive. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funny how you avoided the topic in your gentle humorous ways..but that is surprising in our library, particularly the recently hired very young staff…
        But there is one exception who was promoted from part time to full time and now to a even better position..which is not for her looks but is a favorite of the director. This person dealing with attractive books and magazines is neither nice ( to some) nor hardworking and with rather mean disposition. .

        So that works too ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

        • Nicely put, bebe!

          I didn’t mean to imply that the staffers at my local library aren’t attractive — some are and some aren’t. ๐Ÿ™‚ But given the profession they chose, I imagine most are attractive mentally! Usually some exceptions, of course — as you note — and library directors unfortunately are not immune from playing favorites.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Saying that Dave…every single one are very attentive to patrons at the same time on the look out who are using computers with inappropriate links, treats all the same. Some patrons come in rags looks like not have bathed for a while. Then there are some whoe talks to themselves.
            Then there are creepy ones who in late hours disturb very young shelvers some could be in junior high.

            Lastly the Director is excellent to take leadership and is the only one there besides another is a progressive democrat.

            Liked by 1 person

        • These birds aren’t giving us any respect. We provide ’em with accessories, and they just ignore us. SMH.

          Now one little creature that I don’t seem to have a problem attracting is this rabbit that’s been hopping around the neighbourhood. I picked some strawberries from my garden the other day. Saw that rabbit AGAIN nuzzling around my flowers. I don’t want to spray anything on the plants that might harm him/her, but I wish he/she would stop hanging around my house.

          On second thought, it might be ok. If Thumper wants to hang around ole Ana’s garden, I’ll just stay out the way and let him do his thing. As long as he doesn’t start eating my plants, I guess it’s ok.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Morning Ana from OH…we are having torrential rain now and for last two days off and on. I love to display my bird bath with no birds, since it is in front of my house and not visible from inside I like to imagine they come and take a dip in hot weather if not drink. Actually I have seen other years in summer then taking a dip.

            Oh the rabbits…they come in my front mouthful of yellow pansies ( I love yellow flowers,although I never wear that color) only to taunt me. This year I have so many marigold yet someone is butchering them..who would think they are safe from rabbits and squirrels… ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

            Liked by 1 person

  12. One of my favorite quotes:
    โ€œI am a librarian. I discovered โ€˜meโ€™ in the library. I went to find โ€˜meโ€™ in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years.โ€
    โ€“ Ray Bradbury

    Liked by 2 people

    • That’s a magnificent quote, VocareMentor. Thanks! Ray Bradbury was a GREAT writer, and it’s heartening that libraries helped make that possible. It’s also nice that Bradbury publicly expressed his gratitude for libraries.

      For years, I’ve had a monthly ritual of driving to my local library to take out four or five novels. It’s such an enjoyable thing!


  13. The library in “The Haunting of Hill House” figures prominently in the story. Eleanor was bothered by the smell and initially couldn’t enter the library at all. I have always LOVED the smell of a library! Our high school library was probably smaller than my living room (14 X 20) but I loved that room. Many of the books had been there for years and had probably been checked out by my oldest brother and sister (18 years and 16 years older than me) who were avid readers. I think I read almost everything there, including “Kon-Tiki” and “Aku Aku”. ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s where I checked out “The Diary of Anne Frank”, “Wuthering Heights”, “Jane Eyre”, “Emma”, etc. etc. There’s nothing like the smell and feel of an old book!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great mention, lulabelleharris! Shirley Jackson’s excellent novel is so…haunting. Low-key horror can be really frightening, perhaps because it seems more believable than over-the-top horror.

      Libraries DO have a nice scent, helped by the aging of the paper in books. In the case of school libraries (small or otherwise), that generational thing you mentioned adds to the appeal. I can see you have VERY fond memories of your high school library — with good reason!


      • As my father’s books were stored all over my house, and were mostly a century+ in age, I have long been habituated to the scent of old books. And yep, mildewishness aside, it’s a fine smell, especially old parchment bound books of rag paper.

        What I discovered, working around old audio recordings for years, is how much I love the smell of acetate, which was mostly used to make ‘safety’ recordings, but deteriorate over time with what to me is a most pleasing aroma!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bill! I would love to read that novel; I appreciate the reminder. Knowing a library plays a big role in “The Book Thief” makes Marcus Zusak’s novel sound even more appealing. ๐Ÿ™‚


  14. As I have said before, a motto for me and my profession and many of its practitioners is ‘Born to Be Mild’. We aren’t the most thrilling or death-defying species and, consequently, are hosts of forums for all those adventures rather than actively engaging in them. Librarianship, as you said, usually doesn’t translate into enthralling literature. I know that some have tried to spice it up, particularly in films and videos. There’s even a set of cable movies involving the adventures of ‘The Librarian’ portrayed by ‘ER’ alum Noah Wylie. Although it’s somewhere in my Netflix queue I haven’t felt stronger moved to push it to the top. Apparently that librarian is more of an Indiana Jones-type adventurer that definitely doesn’t encounter that kind of excitement outside of the library. Actually, libraries CAN be exciting places, especially public libraries. I’ve witnessed two people in the past year having seizures in the middle of second floor Reference and we encounter our share of mentally imbalanced patrons although, thankfully, none carrying firearms yet. My first novel written for National Novel Writing Month included a main character who worked at the Circulation Desk at the public library and I, of course, included some of the bizarre characters I encountered there. When the affluent come in with an attitude that we shouldn’t allow the unwashed homeless into the library I’m always tempted to say to them, “Look man, this is the PUBLIC library and they are part of the public and they have just as much right to be here as you do.” So it’s an interesting place but, other than my own little attempt at dramatizing the experiences of a fellow that works at a public library, I can’t think of something that takes place ostensibly on the ‘realistic’ plane without venturing into adventure, fantasy or history. I do know that several writers have certainly made plenty of use of libraries in writing their works. The one that always springs to mind is Ray Bradbury, who wrote ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in the basement of the Los Angeles Public Library. He claimed it was a ‘dime novel’ i.e. he used a pay-as-you-go rental typewriter and had to keep feeding it dimes to extend his time writing it. Ray was a lifelong champion of libraries and often gave talks to benefit them. I just wish my local library had managed to scrounge up the funding to have him speak when he was still well enough to do public talks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “Born to Be Mild” — I like that, Brian! And library patrons can always take out the novel “Steppenwolf.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      As I’ve said elsewhere, librarians are some of the greatest people on Earth — and many are quietly charismatic. Also, as you note, they can be the gateway to a whole lot of book-related excitement (and knowledge). Plus those real-life incidents you mention in libraries are sad and stressful but certainly not dull.

      I totally agree that libraries should welcome all! If the rich don’t like it, they’re welcome not to visit.

      I didn’t realize you had written a “NaNoWriMo” novel, and a library-related one to boot. Congratulations!

      Ray Bradbury composing “Fahrenheit 451” on a library rental typewriter is such a great story. I’ve heard he wrote the novel in a very short amount of time — perhaps spurred by not wanting to spend too much money on that typewriter. ๐Ÿ™‚ It would have been so great to have had him speak at your library.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment!


      • Actually, I completed the Nanowrimo challenge four times. The first result was the best as well as being the most enjoyable and illuminating. Each subsequent time it became more of a matter of reaching the 50,000 word goal no matter how thin the premise or how sloppy the result and I didn’t have the patience or fortitude to polish any of them to perfection, not even the first, partly because I realized that I probably always wanted to write novels for the wrong reasons, not because I had something unique to say as well as the ambition and energy to say it but because it was really nothing more than the fantasy I had had since I was a kid and emulated my first encounter with a great writer–Mark Twain. I may have something unique to say but I can’t tailor it to suit the format of a novel and the world doesn’t need yet another mediocre, well-intentioned novel that, as Kurt Vonnegut said, would ‘disappear up its own asshole’. It was one of the most powerful yet liberating epiphanies I’ve ever had, to be happy with what I am. And now, having actually COMPLETED novels, I can say that it’s much more fun ultimately to be a consumer and a commenter and express my own unique outlooks still through written expression, but with the full understanding of the life of the creative person and the joy and terror of the creative process. I have utmost respect for any successful and/or prolific writer because I know the energy that it requires. And working in the library fits in perfectly with my natural identity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Four times doing NaNoWriMo, bobess48? That’s impressive. It’s also impressive that you came to a realization of what you were capable of and not capable of. You’re certainly a terrific book reviewer and extremely well-read in literature.

          Writing a novel is indeed hard. I tried it once — spending about two years with it, on and off, and completing about 120 pages. I learned to my dismay that it wasn’t a creative strength of mine, though of course one never knows if it’s something that can eventual develop. Certainly some authors (Jack London, John Steinbeck, etc.) wrote rather clunky first novels before hitting their stride.


    • i worked in a public library and we had a regular homeless man who washed in the bathroom, using papers towels at the basin. he used them all up and my colleague often complained about him. i told her to shut up, he was public like everyone else. he read our books, but couldnt borrow them because you needed an address to get a library card. i liked that he could still make use of our library

      Liked by 2 people

      • Oh yeah, we’ve had plenty of people like that guy. One thing I’ve noticed is that many of these people are quite articulate and intelligent and some of them are well-read. And, even though I’d never want to trade places with them, they’re probably able to read a lot more than I have the chance to do. We only had one instance where the hygiene was so excessive (the man wore cutout trash bags over his heavy layers of clothing, even in the summer) that the administration had to ask him to leave and if he showed that he could wash himself and stay clean he was welcome to return. I don’t think the guy ever came back.

        Another thing I’ve noticed about the homeless people. They’re generally much more polite and civil than many of the privileged patrons. They are really grateful to be there and they appreciate that we’re there. They don’t take us for granted. Some of the privileged act like we’re there to be their servants.

        Liked by 2 people

        • bobess48, I loved the comments by you and ClareSnow. Tolerance and open-mindedness are so welcome these days (while unfortunately too often in short supply — as is the case with certain Republican presidential candidates).

          And, as you note, homeless people can be very intelligent people. Many had some financial crisis (job loss, medical issue, etc.) that tumbled them from the middle class.


      • Thanks for relating that, ClareSnow. It’s great that man could use the library, and that your colleague didn’t have the power to bar him. And one hopes that reading gave the man a brief mental escape from the immense difficulties of being homeless.

        Liked by 2 people

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