Library Confidential by Don Borchert

This may be the last review for a week as I’ll be too busy trying not to rip my hair out in frustration as I move house. Easier said than done, considering I have to condense two bedrooms full of crap (and books!) into one. So wish me luck and I’ll see you all soon!

From Amazon – ‘The public library – a haven of calm, source of information, home to the student, the geek and the aging librarian. Or so you might think. Don Borchert’s ten years as assistant librarian have taught him that a library is more than just a place to borrow books, it’s also a place where people hide from the law, fall in love, fight, deal drugs, introduce their children to reading, look up porn and pursue their dreams. Borchett’s hilarious memoir delves behind the bookshelves as he discovers the weird, dangerous and downright dirty world of a public library and the fearless civil servants who patrol its aisles.’

This is less a book about libraries and more a book about the people who work in Mr. Borchert’s library. There’s nothing particularly surprising about library life – customers who don’t want to pay fines, children who don’t want to be quiet, staff who don’t want to speak to either of those- so it seems to be padded out with unrelated stories about his friends and colleagues who apparently go on holiday, get married and contract illnesses just like any non-librarian. Consider my world enlarged.
He also goes off on tangents a lot – I remember a particularly long section about a recent family vacation to Hawaii that was seemingly unconnected to Librarydom. He writes fairly well (although somebody needs to disillusion him about long sentences and introduce him to the wonderful world of commas) but it does seem as though there just isn’t enough about libraries to fill a whole book.
Looking back, he barely mentions books themselves ever. He even mentions children that are ‘ruining their summer reading.’ Although Mr. Borchert has compiled a list of the staff’s favourite books at the back, this is the only indication that any of them have anything to do with books other than swiping them at the counter. Obviously that’s not a bad thing in itself, but you do expect a librarian who wrote about to vaguely mention the damn things.
It’s a short review because there is almost nothing to say about this book. It’s accessible and readable but it didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about libraries. I enjoyed reading it but I doubt I’ll feel the need to read it again in the near future.


  1. karen! says:

    I hate moving – good luck!

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