Friday, March 4, 2016

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

Reviewed by Ambrea

As the book jacket says, “From a patron’s missing wet suit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan’s circulation desk.”  Part memoir and part anthology, I Work at a Public Library features many of the strange and unusual—sometimes dysfunctional—things that librarians encounter every day and offering insight into the day-to-day rituals of the public library and their more than memorable patrons.

I found Sheridan’s book informative and insightful:  it shows the good and the bad that librarians face every single day.  Sometimes, the stories seem so outlandish they couldn’t possibly be true!  And yet they are absolutely, positively one-hundred-percent true.  It’s fascinating to see the different libraries—libraries from different parts of the world, libraries with different needs and different patrons—have many of the same experiences to recount.  I’ve realized that now, since I’m also working at a public library, I can relate to almost each and every story I encounter in I Work at a Public Library.

It’s my work week in a nutshell—my biography has been written!

Although I have a direct connection to I Work at a Public Library, I think Sheridan’s book is accessible and humorous for anyone who decides to pick it up.  It’s full of little details and anecdotes that make it an absolute gem, and it’s absolutely packed with hilarious stories.  However, one of my favorite aspects about I Work at a Public Library is how Sheridan classified and alphabetized each story she recounted, as one might in a library.  Each  story feels like it’s listed and pulled from a card catalog, and I was so thrilled when I realized what Sheridan had done in separating the sections of her book.  I certainly got a kick out of it.

And I can’t forget about Cuckoo Carol.

She was my absolute favorite “character.”  Her chapter was one of the best for the simple reason that I have encountered a couple of Cuckoo Carols in my career, and I couldn’t help but laugh at her antics.  She was cheeky, she was sarcastic and brutally honest, but she was virtually harmless, if a little infuriating, and she was absolutely hilarious.  This book would not have been the same without Cuckoo Carol.

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