Close Encounters of The Library Kind

iworkatapubliclibraryTitle: I Work at a Public Library
Author: Gina Sheridan
Published: July 2014
Genre: Nonfiction (although often stranger than fiction)
Rating: ★★★★

When people think of a librarian, they’ve often told me they call to mind the classic bespectacled spinster, sternly shushing noisy children. This is simply just not so – librarians are as diverse as libraries themselves, which aren’t exactly the revered temple of literature you’d think they’d be.

Libraries, contrary to popular belief, are often full of hijinks, odd patrons and ridiculous requests.  Gina Sheridan’s book, I Work at a Public Library, describes this in a perfectly charming way.

What began as a Tumblr account documenting her everyday library encounters, Gina’s book is a collection of unusual interactions she had as a librarian – from a man calling to look for his vomit-covered sweater to people hollering about their rights as taxpayers – perfectly depicting the sometimes odd life at a public library.

Having worked at a public library myself, I found myself laughing out loud at some of Gina’s stories, not only because the things people come up with are often hilarious, but also because I have lived some of these exact scenarios. It’s uncanny (although some of mine were a tad more offensive in nature than hers).

I had so many strange interactions at the library that I, too, had the thought to put them into print, but I didn’t want to be too mean or cynical about my patrons. The beautiful thing about Gina’s outlook is that despite the weird questions, nutty computer problems, and rude patrons (I don’t doubt she’s had her fair share of vulgarities flung at her that she left out) she’s experienced while working at the library, she’s gracious, kind and helpful in every scenario. Just like you’d hope your librarian would be.

*Caitlin’s review was originally posted on Racket Magazine. 

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