or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Librarian Book Quote

   August 11th, 2009 Brian Herzog

The Puzzling World of Winston BreenI like recording book quotes about librarians, and found a good one while reading The Puzzling World of Winston Breen.

The book is about a kid who loves puzzles, and gets caught up in a real life treasure hunt. The moral of the book is that there are different kinds of people in the world, who may not always be what they seem, and it's important to be able to work collaboratively to get things done. However, during the story the main character reflects,

If anything could dampen the excitement of going on a treasure hunt, it was having to do it with the town librarian...

The librarian in the book is a minor hero in her own right, so I'll let it slide. But come on, I like treasure hunts. We're not that uninteresting.

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Quotes About Libraries

   July 31st, 2008 Brian Herzog

J.F.K. library quoteIn the course of working on a project to promote my library, I have been looking for quotes about libraries.

I guess I took for granted that it'd be easy to find really positive quotes, about why libraries are important, how people benefit from using their library, etc. And it was, but what surprised me were a few not-so-positive library quotes.

The first resources I checked were our various quotation books. One of them, The Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations, had four library-related quotes, and they all were less-than-glowing:

People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the library with Aristotle and more time on the buses and in the subway.
-Simeon Strunsky

If you file your waste-paper basket for 50 years, you have a public library.
-Tony Benn

A library is thought in cold storage.
-Lord Samuel

There is nowhere in the world were sleep is so deep as in the libraries of the House of Commons.
-Henry "Chips" Channon

Not that my frail ego was shattered by this discovery, but it was surprising. There's a lot of cheerleading that goes on within librarianship (such as American Libraries' "How the World See Us" section), and I guess I've been so insulated by this that anything to the contrary was shocking.

But after the initial shock wore off, I could see the humor (and accuracy) in them, too.

And in case you're looking for more quotes, here's a few websites with library-related quotations:

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but they have a lot to pick from. I think my favorite of the moment is:

A truly great library contains something in it to offend everyone.
- Jo Godwin

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Thinking Like a Librarian

   November 18th, 2006 Brian Herzog

Fruit: A Novel, by Brian FrancisInstead of a reference question this weekend, here's another quote from a book I'm reading - Fruit, by Brian Francis. It's a novel about an eighth grade boy, Peter, who, uncomfortable with his body (and his talking nipples), takes a job in his school's library so he doesn't have to go out and play with the other kids at recess. His rational for this is:

The truth is, I'd rather be in the boring old library putting books away and making ditto copies for the teachers than outside with everyone else. It's safer.

So, I wonder how many people working in libraries today are there for this exact same reason.

And speaking of how librarians think, here's another quote from the book. This one comes after an argument Peter has with his nipples, over whose fault it is that they are abnormally large:

I got out the masking tape and shut them up. I was so angry at my evil nipples. Who did they think they were, anyway?

Who among us at the reference desk hasn't thought that before?

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