Item description for Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert...
Mild-mannered librarian tells all in shocking new book!
Not long ago, the public library was a place for the bookish, the eggheaded, and the studious---often seeking refuge from a loud, irrational, crude, outside world. Today, libraries have become free-for-all entertainment complexes filled with rowdy teens, deviants, drugs, and even sex toys. Lockdowns and chaperones are often necessary.
Don Borchert was a short-order cook, door-to-door salesman, telemarketer, and Christmas-tree-chopper before landing a job in a California library. He never could have predicted his encounters with the colorful kooks, touching adolescents, threatening bullies, and tricksters who fill the pages of this hilarious memoir.
In Free for All, Borchert offers readers a ringside seat for the unlikely spectacle of mayhem and absurdity that is business as usual at the public library. You'll see cops bust drug dealers who've set up shop in the men's restroom, witness a burka-wearing employee suffer a curse-ridden nervous breakdown, and meet a lonely, neglected kid who grew up in the library and still sends postcards to his surrogate parents---the librarians. In fact, from the first page of this comic debut to the last, you'll learn everything about the world of the modern-day library that you never expected.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.4" Width: 5.8" Height: 1" Weight: 0.8 lbs.
Release Date Nov 13, 2007
Publisher Virgin Books
ISBN 1905264127 ISBN13 9781905264124
Availability 0 units.
More About Don Borchert
Don Borchert lives in Lomita, California and still has his job in the public library. This is his first book.
Reviews - What do customers think about Free For All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library?
Rips the cover off the seamy library subculture! Sep 6, 2008
An enjoyable, if somewhat frothy, book about what really goes on in public libraries.
Stories abound of neurotic librarians with OCD, abusive patrons, neglected children, lonely shut-ins, hormonal teenagers and creepy 50-something perverts.
Basically a loosely categorized collection of library anecdotes, but a pleasant read nonetheless.
Meh for All Aug 31, 2008
A few months back a patron told me about this book and I figured that I should read it, since I work in a library. I thought it might be interesting to compare the author's experiences with my own. Sad to say, like another reviewer pointed out, the author has no voice. The book reads like a series of lists, cataloging what happened, but without humor or personality. There were points that I stopped reading and moved ahead to the next chapter. This happened more than once. True enough, if you don't work in a library there are some insights about how the place works. Like the story about the "Friends of the Library," and the chain of command. While a library is generally a calm place, strange things do happen. For those who work in the library environment then I would say check this book out of your own library, don't buy. It's a quick read and will basically tell you what you already know about where you work.
The Good, the Bad, and the Irrelevant Aug 26, 2008
This is a pleasant collection of desultory anecdotes, and makes for a quick and enjoyable read, certainly for those of us who've paid our dues working in an urban library. Some of it makes me smile, some of it makes me frown in frustrated remembrance, all of it is a tale worth telling, IMHO. However it's not exactly great literature, and there's no overriding theme, except maybe that you shouldn't assume that a library is a safe place to store your kids!
Borchert has an awful lot of credentials to be working as a library assistant. I don't want to sound as if I'm speaking slightingly of library assistants, BTW; although I have a Master's in library science, it's a shake-and-bake degree that took me a year and a half and could have easily taken LESS time. Frankly, I'd call the degree a typical union protection-racket barrier to job competition. The assistants typically do the lion's share of the work around the libraries I've worked in, and some of them could indeed do a librarian's job with one hand tied behind their backs! SOME of them, not ALL of them...
Borchert touches, with mild amusement, on intrusions of urban (and union) politics into public service, but it seems to me that a LOT more could be said there, and honestly he treats his colleagues with kid gloves; not surprisingly I guess. He's not really calling for change in politics or society, which is kind of refreshing for the profession, but without any edge the book lacks oomph.
It's always worth saying that nothing in the library is FREE. It costs BIG bucks to run a library, and publicly-purchased materials typically cost MORE than what a canny shopper would pay, even without factoring in the costs of personnel, storage, insurance, etc etc. Many communities might be better off with 'free' public daycare than libraries, or investing the costs in better school libraries and afterschool programs. Read this book, and ask yourself some questions about your tax dollars at work!
A Non-Professional But Still Professional Review Aug 1, 2008
"Free for All" gives a pretty accurate report of what it is like to work in a public library on a daily basis. As many have stated, libraries attract quite the spectrum of people, and this particular book is about those people including some that actually work in the library. I have worked in a public library for 15 years, and I have similar stories to those presented in this book. What this book is not is an all-encompassing study on the aspects of a librarian's job. In other words, you are not going to hear about the tireless work a librarian puts in researching a reference question or how collection development policies are developed. This is a humorous novel written not only for people who work in libraries but also the everyday patron who uses the library.
Again as someone who has worked in a public library for a decade and a half, I consider myself a librarian despite not having my MLS or MLIS. I guess I would call myself a non-professional librarian with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications. I appreciate those who have theirs. However, I see no real differences when I am doing a reference search when I am in the trenches with those who hold their degrees. I have heard the debate over what a real librarian is and what is not, and it really comes down to elitism and the snobbery of higher education. Like the professional librarians who have put a lot of hard work into their two year master's degree, I have put the same amount of effort in my services to the library field over the years, and it is a slap in the face to have them belittled by professional librarians who do essentially the same job I do but with a lot more pretension. Sometimes the work one does is more important than the person who does it.
Great book! Jul 18, 2008
I throughtly enjoyed Mr. Borchert's book and hope that he continues to write many more. He has a "voice" when he writes that makes this book a wonderful read.