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

Don Borchert, Author
Don Borchert, Author . Virgin $21.95 (223p) ISBN 978-1-9052-6412-4
Reviewed on: 09/17/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Hardcover - 210 pages - 978-0-7535-1288-3
Paperback - 223 pages - 978-0-7535-1501-3
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Jack-of-all-trades Borchert shares wholesome, guardedly witty dispatches from the suburban L.A. library system in this charming tell-all. For 12 years the family-man author has held the post of assistant librarian, keeping a wary eye on unruly kids, mollifying mystified parents and repairing sadly manhandled materials. Borchert relays a conversation with an aged librarian who reveals how it was in the good old days (staff lunches used to be served with wine), then contrasts that account with modern-day multicultural crayons and the preponderance of latchkey kids abandoned in the library for long, numbing afternoons. A few of the regular patrons are inspiring Renaissance types, but most are unsettling and unsavory, such as intensely reclusive crossword-puzzler Henry hounding the reference desk; loser Max looking futilely on the Internet for a South American wife; or the drug dealers working the restroom. From patrons who rack up hundreds of dollars in fines to missing pet rats and fist-fighting mothers, Borchert has seen it all, and his account gives a human interest spin to this undervalued profession. (Nov.)

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