The Librarian Wore Something That Wasn’t Stylish

Relying on a complex system of reference cards and steam-powered pulleys, the author is able to answer patrons’ questions, usually within a matter of weeks. (Photo courtesy of Super Furry Librarian)

By Luke

It being the end of summer, I thought it’d be helpful to answer some of the questions that have come across the Front Desk at the Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library over this busiest of seasons. Naturally, these questions probably occur at other branches of the Fontana Regional Library System. I hope their answers make your visits to our libraries more comprehensible and, ulitmately,  more enjoyable.

Q: This book is at the top of The New York Times Bestseller List, but I can’t find it on your New Arrivals shelves. Why don’t you carry it? — Larry W., Cashiers and Gainesville, Fla.

 A: Well, it’s possible that it’s been checked out, especially if it’s a Bestseller. We really try to make sure we have the all the Bestsellers, but sometimes a title or two will fall between the cracks.

But here’s the beautiful part — since we’re part of the Fontana Regional Library System, one of our Sister Libraries is almost certain to have the title. We maintain a remarkably efficient courier network that transports materials (books, DVDs, CDs, documents, laundry) between our branches on a daily basis. Often, you’ll have your Bestseller the next day.

Q: My kids aren’t much in the way of readers. Do you have any recommendations? — Kathryn J., Jackson County

A: You’re in luck — all of the libraries have extensive Children’s Collections that cover all reading levels. In addition, there’s been a remarkable flowering of children’s literature in the last decade — kid’s books are more engaging and they cover far more interests than they did just a few years ago.

Plus, most branches have activities for children that are designed to foster a love of reading. Here at Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library, we have  a reading therapy dog, a sweet Labrador Retriever named Miss Pilar, who comes in Wednesdays to listen to stories read by children. It’s marvelous to watch normally shy children open up and read to a quiet, attentive listener.

And for Young Adults, the choices are breathtaking. When I was growing up, Young Adult Novels were relentlessly earnest. They were Message Stories and almost uniformly dry — “You will absorb the lesson of this book or die trying.” In the 21st Century there are issue stories leavened with humor, books covering a full spectrum of topics.

Don’t believe me? Visit Liz’s August 31st post, “Musings on Young Adult Fiction.” This is clearly a woman who relishes the genre.

Casual Friday at Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library (Photo courtesy of Redage)

Q: What’s the deal with your hair? Is that some sort of toupee? — Frank G., Lake Glenville

A: Really? Do you really think someone would manufacture something like this?

Q: I think I’d like to get started in Mysteries. What are some of your favorite titles? — Claire M., Highlands 

A: For my money, anything by Raymond Chandler is a gem. (In fact, the title for this post is taken directly from his story appearing in the October 1939 issue of Spicy Librarian Magazine.)    No one else could construct mood-drenched sentences like these:

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.” — Farewell, My Lovely

“The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.”  — The Long Goodbye

“Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.”  — The Big Sleep

“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away. ” — The High Window

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”  — Red Wind

“He snorted and hit me in the solar plexus. I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor.”  — Pearls Are a Nuisance

(As one who used to make his living entirely by writing, I’m a bit puzzled by his advice to writers: “Throw up into your typewriter every morning. Clean up every noon.” I only tried this once, but believe me, it doesn’t work. Maybe it’s supposed to teach patience as you’re trying to clean the individual keys.)

Chandler was a beautiful writer, but his novels can be kind of wobbly. The plots would get muddled and sometimes the mysteries would just collapse under their hazy illogic. Still, that gorgeous prose really hauls the freight and drives you right over the inconsistencies.

Overdue DVDs are taken very seriously by the Fontana Regional Library System. (Photo courtesy of redage)

Q: Are you making up these questions? — Margot S., Cashiers

A: No, Margot, I am not.

Q: How much does it cost to use your wireless signal? — Tricia S., Sapphire

The FRL Wireless Signal is free and open to everyone. You can take your device anywhere in the library (or in the garden or out in the parking lot) and access the web.

You don’t even need to bring your own device — we can let you use one of our laptops or netbooks.

10 thoughts on “The Librarian Wore Something That Wasn’t Stylish

  1. You’re looking a little glassy-eyed in the top photo, which I assume was shot by a racing hamster. Love the Chandler quotes. What time is the 4:00 movie?


  2. Glassy-eyed? I was hoping my pose gave me a jaunty, scholarly look — the kind that women find irresistible.

    Earlier in the day, someone had dropped a dictionary on my head. Maybe that’s where the stunned expression comes from.

    The 4:00 movie? You’ll have your answer by Saturday morning!


    • Luke, you’re worth your weight in gold. Someone could probably get a bundle for you right now on the open market. But if you’ll finish up your sofa-cushion fort, I’ll be there to help you defend it! 🙂


  3. This was an awesome way to start the morning… it caused me to giggle out loud at the Reference Desk.
    (Though, it could be this Casual Friday gin & tonic…)


  4. I second the motion Kristina. I’m sure folks were surprised to hear laughter coming from the IT cave in HQ as I read Luke’s post! Excellent job Luke, and thank you.


  5. I want to know more about this Spicy Librarian Magazine where Chandler wrote. Is it still in publication and if so why doesn’t one of the FRL system libraries carry it? As John and Kristina and Loretta and Sarah have said, thanks for the laugh Luke– Great post indeed. Yes we get a bit irate about those overdue DVDs don’t we? Makes me want to smoke a cigar and shoot a big gun I tell you!


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