Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian

by Scott Douglas

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Overview

An unexpectedly raucous and illuminating memoir set in a Southern California public library. For most of us, librarians are the quiet people behind the desk, who, apart from the occasional "shush," vanish into the background. But in Quiet, Please, McSweeney's contributor Scott Douglas puts the quirky caretakers of our literature front and center. With a keen eye for the absurd and a Kesey-esque cast of characters (witness the librarian who is sure Thomas Pynchon is Julia Roberts's latest flame), Douglas takes us where few readers have gone before. Punctuated by his own highly subjective research into library history--from Andrew Carnegie's Gilded Age to today's Afghanistan--Douglas gives us a surprising (and sometimes hilarious) look at the lives which make up the social institution that is his library.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940011949241
Publisher: SD
Publication date: 11/07/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 152,346
File size: 5 MB

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Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
catalogthis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disappointing.I had high expectations of this book. I hoped the author's observations about public librarianship and library school would be amusing or insightful. They were neither. Some advice to Mr. Douglas:* "Smelt" is not the past tense of the verb smell, and "desert" is not what comes at the end of a meal.* Footnotes are a bold choice, and should be used only by those with the skill to pull it off. For good examples, please see Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell or the front matter to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. For bad examples, see your book.* Please refrain from using the phrase "in fact" in the future. I believe you have used up your lifetime allotment.* If you're going to be an jerk, just be a jerk. Don't end a bigoted rant about {insert patron group here} with some Doogie Howser-ish nonsense about how much you learned from them.* Don't annoy the catalogers. We can bury your book so deep in the OPAC that no patron will ever find it.
vtlucania on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you have spemt time either working or observing patron behavior in a public library, I think you can appreciate many of the authors attempt at humor. There are some parts of the book that are a little dry and rather boring but seldom are books "perfect." I am also certain there are some library staff who have read this work and felt their ire go out of control but that is to be expected. For this reader, the book was easy to read and entertaining with subject matter that is relevant to me at this point in my life.
mairangiwoman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A young guy sets out somewhat timidly to see if he likes library work as a career. He gradually gets sucked in while he is finishing his Literature degree. Becomes toughened like the rest of us [well, sort of], hooked into the value of the sense of community libraries provide and wrestles with the difficult people as well as enjoying the challenge. Likes the ordinary people too! Because he is young at the right time he becomes a computer expert too as libraries he is in convert to computer use. His wicked sense of humour and 'specially altered' anecdotes make this a hoot to read. It probably wasn't as funny as in real time.
ccahill on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I had been amused by the author's website, but found his book to be less entertaining. Although there are many humorous and otherwise interesting anecdotes in this book, the author's bitterness and pretentious tone diminished my enjoyment of the book. I would recommend reading "Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library" instead of this book.
litelady-ajh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really like this book, most of what he covers is sooooooo true, its scary.
neiljohnford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anyone who's worked in a public library (or any library) will recognise alot of the stuff in this book. How often have you sat in your staff room swapping stories about readers or eccentric colleagues when someone says "someone should write a book about it". Well I guess this is it. Some of the situations that Scott Douglas describes are spookily familiar - from the strange office politics and infighting to the strange requests from users it's all there. Although the book is generally well written, and made me laugh out loud in places (and weep for my profession in others!) I did wonder how wide an audience this would appeal to. I guess if you've worked in a library or spent alot of time in them then the subject will hold your attention but otherwise I don't know. Some of the themes (like computing in libraries, closures, refurbishments and equal access) are particularly relevant at the moment. All in all, definitely worth a read if you're interested in the subject.
ferdinand1213 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book resonates with me on a lot of levels. His stories take me back to my five years of paging and clerical work at a public library. His feelings toward the library profession - as one that he has fallen into but also grown into - also reflect my own feelings about the profession. While some other reviews appear to criticize him for not being more understanding of the diverse groups that use his library, I can say that his ambivalent feelings in these reminiscences are entirely reflective of those I've observed in similar library settings.
safetygirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't know why I spend my vacations reading about other people who work in libraries. It's like I never let myself leave! This book had it's humorous moments, but I mostly found it depressing. Not much hope - and I can't imagine wanting to be a librarian after reading this book. Although he does make the point that dealing with other human beings is a much bigger part of the job than dealing with books. That's something every librarian-wannabe should know.
heike6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Everyone thinking of going into public librarianship should read this book first.
library_chan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quiet, Please by Scott Douglas is a memoir of a twenty-something male librarian in Anaheim, California. It aims to be humorous and anecdotal, but fails to do either well.As a recent graduate of library school, I often took offense to what Douglas had to say. His stories about working with the mentally disabled, physically disabled, elderly, and teenagers were, for the most part, loathsome. They were loathsome because of his attitude towards, and ignorance of, those groups of people.If a tag cloud was created using all the words in this book, I¿m sure that "hate" and "hatred" would be two of his most used words. How can someone work in a public library that hates so many different kinds of people? How can someone who publishes a book about hating so much still keep a job working with so many different kinds of people?There are parts of the book where Douglas says something like: "[Being a librarian] is my life, my passion. I look ahead and see the road is long, but the road is bright" (p. 318). He makes these statements after pages upon pages of either complaining about his career choice and making it sound like a job for people beneath him, or telling a story filled with ignorance and arrogance about a patron he did not understand or bother to learn from.Additionally, Douglas employs footnotes and "pointless interludes to fill your mind with nonsense" (p. 4). This format is gimmicky and a waste of time. The writing is not at all challenging, and the author¿s use of the gimmicky format adds to his condescending and pedantic tone of voice. Overall, I found this book infuriating. It gives a very bad representation of librarians in America.
jreinhart on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I have been reading a lot about libraries lately because I work in one and am a trustee of another. I expected this book to be comedic, insightful, and profound. In some parts it was. But, as I read it I constantly received a bitter taste in my mouth that did not leave until long after I finished the memoir. I found the author to be extremely bitter and even pretentious. At one point he tries to elevate himself by stating that he no longer wears jeans and is now a trouser (or pants) kind of guy. He says "it just happened" but the way in which he describes this seemingly innocuous and obviously irrelevant change symbolizes the height of his pretentiousness. He wears "fancy" pants now because he graduated library school and is better than everyone else that hasn't.Also, he seems to strongly dislike his experience working in a public library. He is not shy about unleashing a plethora of less than positive adjectives to describe people who work in public libraries and people who use them. Mr. Douglass attempts to couch these epithets in "cute" anecdotes. Some of them are comedic but most are thinly veiled stories to promote his superiority and the inferiority of public library patrons.From my almost ten years working in public libraries (starting as a page and working my way up to a library assistant in interlibrary loan and a trustee of a public library) I have relished every moment. Some of the authors stories ring familiar. There are certainly interesting people who use public buildings including libraries. These should be cherished and fondly remembered. The author, at the book's conclusion, relishes his freedom from the shackles of public library employment. If his experience was as awful as he attempts to convey then he should have stuck with the blogosphere, where many similar individuals dwell, and leave mainstream publishing alone.The author completely missed the boat on what could have been a wonderful chance to place the spotlight on the wonderful institution of public libraries. He touches on some of the good and some of the bad that befalls public libraries, such as what happens when budgets are slashed. By and large, however, the author comes across as a vindictive individual who wrote this book to speak ill of the profession he fled.I strongly urge people to put this disappointing book back on the shelves and instead check out "Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library" from your local library. You can find it at 020.92 B for most public libraries using the Dewey Decimal system. You won't be disappointed.
khollis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"A library was nothing without its poeple. You say 'library' and there's this iconoclastic image of an old-lady librarian telling people to be quiet and not to run... Maybe she was what people thought about when you said library, but she didn't make the library. people made the library. Without them, all the sacredness was gone. It was just a building with books."A humourous account of a public librarian who writes about 'library-life' much as it is!
jennpb on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hope Scott Douglas doesn't hope to find any more library jobs in the future. Apparently he hates teens, the elderly, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, and anyone else who happens to want to do anything else at the library except quietly read printed materials. I didn't read the last 50 pages of the book. Does anything interesting happen? Does he reveal that he is leaving the profession? Please?
mysteena on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If I'm to take this author at face value, than I can expect to hate being a librarian. However, his writing is very tongue-in-cheek and it's pretty clear that deep down he loves what he does.
WholeHouseLibrary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This had got to be one of the funniest books I've read in ages. And, at the same time, it's also one of the most poignant. Mr. Douglas (at the approximate age of thirty, I believe) shows an insight to his own experiences that most people never achieve in a lifetime.The book is a quick read, and contains a feature (near the middle) that I've never encountered in a reading environment before, and I will not spoil it for you by revealing it here. The latter half of the book does seem to take on a darker feel than I would have preferred, but it is still a worthy read. I'm putting Scott Douglas on my Author Radar, and will be actively watch for new of his next book.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Scott Douglas writes entertainingly and often with some exageration about his life as a Librarian in a couple of Southern Californian Public Libraries. I felt myself nodding along to the descriptions of occurences and people the only real differences being the languages.It's the people that stand out that you notice, the people that hassle or entertain, many of the nice, ordinary people slip by without making much of an impression and this story is really about the ones that stand out. Scott comes across as being a bit of a slacker but he's not a bad man and his occasional frustration with trying to do the right thing for the right reasons comes through.And then sometimes he's a bit of a messer, unfair and cruel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Equal parts witty, thoughtful, and pretentious, Scott Douglas' ''Quiet, Please'' is a generally enjoyable memoir from the frequent McSweeney's contributor. Last year when Don Borchert's ''Free for All'' was released, numerous librarians jumped on it, mostly because Borchert did not have his master's degree, therefore he should not be able to call himself a librarian. At least one review on this website wished for a book from Scott Douglas. Well, here it is, and guess what? It's not all that different from Borchert's. The format is mostly the same -- each tells how they came to their current profession, and spins a number of anecdotes [some amusing, some heart-wrenching, and some in between] peppered with their thoughts on the role of libraries in our communities. They certainly take different perspectives on the latter. Scott Douglas -- who was by his own estimation on the intellectual side to begin with -- takes an historical view and is full of passion for all aspects of the library profession. Borchert's book is a bit more blue-collar, and he's certainly not one to wax philosophical about what he does for a living. That doesn't really make one book better or worse than the other. They're simply *different*, and both deserve to be read because they both have worthwhile things to say. The only major drawback to ''Quiet Please'' is the pretentiousness I mentioned earlier. Douglas knows his library history. He knows a lot of stuff, for that matter, and he loves to show it off. Each chapter contains a ''commercial break'' where he interrupts the narrative to briefly discourse on topics as varied as Henry Adams and his praise for the invention of the dynamo, the history of popcorn, and the practice of human sterilization. By and large they're distracting and add little to the book itself, except as little nuggets of data to file away for Trivial Pursuit night. Still, I recommend you read this book, especially if you are a librarian or you're thinking of entering the library profession.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great coming of age book with a lot of dry wit and humor in it. Scott Douglas is honest, smart and quick to write a great memoir. I read this book and all the times I have been in the library thought 'So true!'. It is relatable and funny and surprisingly heart warming. This is a book I did not want to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great book for all librarians and library lovers alike!