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Free for all : oddballs, geeks, and gangstas…

Free for all : oddballs, geeks, and gangstas in the public library (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Don Borchert

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8185311,119 (3.51)43
Title:Free for all : oddballs, geeks, and gangstas in the public library
Authors:Don Borchert
Info:New York : Virgin Books : Distributed by Holtzbrinck Publishers, c2007.
Collections:Your library
Tags:non-fiction, libraries, librarians, biography, humour, anecdotes

Work details

Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert (2007)

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» See also 43 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
I couldn't resist picking this up and reading it despite all the other TBR mountain books on top of it. And then I couldn't put it down - I stayed awake in bed until I was done with it, and then couldn't sleep for thinking about and also wishing for more. Believe me, I tried to be objective, because I know that stories about assorted patrons and behind-the-scenes life of libraries isn't everyone's cup of tea. But I honestly don't know how anyone could be so disinterested in this to give it less than a 'liked it' rating. Gracefully & cleanly written. Concise stories on a (relatively) wide variety of library-related topics. Funny and poignant, sometimes by turns, sometimes simultaneously.

Oh, to rebut some of the other reviewers - he likes kids, so long as they try to be moderately respectful, and he tries to help them when he can. He likes learning about people of other cultures and basically admits that he knows he's lucky to have been born white even though he couldn't choose that. And he never pretended that this book would be anything like a 'how to fix the library.' ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Very funny! Follows a man who works at the circulation desk of a library and the crazy people and experiences he's had there. Definitely a book that librarians should read. ( )
  Courtney.Francis | May 8, 2014 |
Pretty accurate picture of library work. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
If you'd like a collection of anecdotes about the weird, crazy, and horrible in the library, then this could be for you. I made the mistake of expecting a well-rounded look into what it's like to be a librarian. ( )
  Alyssa.Jocson | Aug 21, 2013 |
Although I work in an academic library, I use the public library religiously, and since I'm hoping to attend library science school next fall, I had high hopes for this book. Brochert's style was humorous to me at first, but eventually I got weary of the dramatically negative way the author worded things. For instance, when describing the library's Technical Services department, Borchert writes, "Suneeta was in the basement of the library, learning the driest and dullest of library alchemy--technical processing......Technical processing is eight hours a day sitting in an uncomfortable chair, staring at a computer screen that is all lines and fields of information, with almost no human contact."

There's a little more on this subject, but you get the idea. Both technical services departments I've worked in have been very different than his description, and since he's never worked in "technical processing," I was unimpressed by his lack of knowledge and understanding of the dynamics of modern technical services workflows and work areas.

Hey, maybe I've taking his view of "technical processing" too seriously, and you can tell by the title that this book wasn't necessarily supposed to paint public libraries in a nice way (but in many ways, it actually does). Public libraries are amazing places, staffed by many people who care about their work, and who deal with an extremely varied "customer base." Still, it rubbed me the wrong way that his brief mention of behind-the-scenes work at the library was so negative and stereotypical.

While Technical Services is well-suited for introverted personalities, there are many outgoing people in Tech Services as well. And even introverted Tech Services staff are involved in local, state, and national professional organizations, if they want to be (and many are). Sharp communication skills are vital, too, no matter where you work.

I think I'm glad I read this book, but I know I'm glad to be done with it! ( )
  dukefan86 | May 29, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 53 (next | show all)
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"The secondhandedness of the learned world is the secret of its mediocrity." - Alfred North Whitehead
To friends and family.

To Sally and Andrea and Beth and Rosie, and to my dad.

To Bob and Donna Perkins.

To Ian Morgan, John Kalmbaugh, and Tom Ryan - oh my, what a bunch. Big, tough ones.

To Theresa and Curtis Babiar and Rhea Edelman, library stalwarts.

To Greg Bobulinski, jazz trumpet player extraordinaire, who reminds us that life is not merely endless commerce.

To Lynn Wolverton.
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Libraries are a footnote to our civilization, an outpost to those unfamiliar with the concept, and a cheap, habit-forming narcotic to the regular patron.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Don Borchert, assistant librarian at a suburban Los Angeles library for twelve years, provides an inside look at what really goes on in a modern library, including fist-fights between moms, drug-dealing in the restroom, and other odd, unsavory, and humorous activities.
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The author recounts his experiences working as an assistant librarian in a public library in suburban Los Angeles, as he encounters patrons who range from bored latchkey kids left there for the afternoon, to rowdy teenagers, to Internet-obsessed adults, to drug-dealers.… (more)

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Average: (3.51)
1 5
1.5 3
2 26
2.5 8
3 73
3.5 19
4 86
4.5 11
5 33

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