Librarian Tales: Dispatches from the Stacks von William Ottens

William Ottens ist Bibliothekar aus Leidenschaft. Seit 2010 twittert er unter Librarian Problems, 2012 kam ein Blog gleichen Namens dazu.
Mit diesen Social Media Auftritten möchte William humorvoll den Frust aufzeigen, mit dem viele Bibliothekare bei ihrer täglichen Arbeit zu kämpfen haben.
‚Librarian Tales‘ ist nun die buchige Weiterführung dieses Themas…

‚Librarian Tales‘ war ein Geschenk, also hatte ich wenig bis gar keine Erwartungen an das Buch. Aber natürlich kenne ich den Librarian-Problems-Twitter-Account, der mich schon oft zum Grinsen gebracht hat.
Und so in etwa hatte ich mir dann auch das Buch vorgestellt: eine Ansammlung lustiger Anektdoten aus dem Alltag eines Bibliothekars. Allerdings lag ich damit etwas daneben.
Es gibt zwar auch die ein oder andere amüsante Kundengeschichte, aber eigentlich schildert Ottens eher seinen eigenen Werdegang als Bibliothekar. Wie er den Berufswunsch entwickelte, seine Ausbildung und seine Jobs in verschiedenen Bibliotheken bis heute.
Dabei räumt er mit vielen Klischees auf, die sich bis heute hartnäckig zum Berufsbild des Bibliothekar halten – nein, wir werden zum Beispiel leider nicht dafür bezahlt, den ganzen Tag zu lesen und ab und an mal einen zu lauten Benutzer zurechtzuweisen!
Außerdem lernt man durch seine Augen die verschiedenen Bereiche von öffentlichen Bibliotheken in den USA kennen und kann so einen kleinen Blick hinter die Kulissen werfen.
Das war auch für mich als deutsche Bibliothekarin interessant, weil es einige Überschneidungen gibt, aber doch einiges auch anders gehandhabt wird, als bei uns.
Ottens läßt übrigens auch drei langjährige Kolleginnen zu Wort kommen, die in verschiedenen Bereichen seiner aktuellen Bibliothek arbeiten und ebenfalls einen kleinen Einblick in ihren Arbeitsalltag geben.
Amüsiert haben mich die Anektdoten über die verschiedenen Benutzer, die scheinbar überall gleich sind. Denn auch ich kenne die Geschichten von ‚dem anderen Bibliothekar‘, der immer alles möglich macht, grundsätzlich alles erlaubt und viel cooler und hilfreicher ist, als man selbst.
Oder die Frage nach DEM wichtigen Buch, von dem der Benutzer leider so gar nichts mehr weiß und der nicht verstehen kann, dass ‚der Einband ist grün‘ nicht hilfreich bei der Suche ist.
Gibt es irgendwo tatsächlich Bibliothekare, die Bücher nach Farben sortiert aufstellen???
Der Schreibstill des Autors war für mich gut verständlich und flüssig lesbar und mit knapp 220 Seiten hat das Buch meiner Meinung nach eine gute Länge.
Insgesamt ist ‚Librarian Tales‘ eine schöne Liebeserklärung an William Ottens Beruf und an Bibliotheken allgemein, die trotz Digitalisierung immer noch einen wichtigen Platz in unserer Gesellschaft einnehmen sollten!

Die Homepage des Autors
William Ottens bei Instagram
Das Buch bei SkyHorse Publishing
‚Librarian Tales‘ bei (Affiliate-Link)

Dieser Beitrag wurde unter Bücher, Englische Bücher, Sachbuch abgelegt und mit , , , , , , , , , , , verschlagwortet. Setze ein Lesezeichen auf den Permalink.

30 Antworten zu Librarian Tales: Dispatches from the Stacks von William Ottens

  1. Servetus schreibt:

    As far as I can tell, our public librarians spend all their time at the moment shelving and retrieving books. I’ll be at the library today at 5:45 p.m. to pick up the books I ordered on Tuesday. I call, they bring the books to a shelf outside, they go inside, I get out of the car and get the books. According to their website they are doing this about 200 times a day.


  2. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Sounds like a good service in times of Covid.
    Ottens mentions Covid at the end of the book but only briefly. The main text was finished before the virus hit I guess.

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  3. Servetus schreibt:

    They are heroes. I like librarians anyway but they really stepped up to meet the challenge. They are also broadcasting story hours for kids via FB live and doing various other things, I’m sure, but the book service is saving my life.


  4. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: I am sure other people feel as you and I hope that maybe more people will appreaciate libraries after all this. Even if the appreciation in the US for libraries seem higher as in Germany anyway.

    Here a lot of public libraries do a lot too and our ‚Onleihe‘ which you normally can only access if you have a library card (which costs often a yearly fee) is free atm.

    Heck, even the president of the university my library is a part of published a video message on Instagram for students where he amongst other things thanked the library for the service we provide constantly during the pandemic and believe me, that’s not something I have heared very often in my twenty years as an scientific librarian around our campi.

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  5. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: What a cool piece of art. I love this!

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  6. Servetus schreibt:

    I thought it was neat, too, although I imagine it’s hard to locate a book in that stack. LOL!


  7. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: And IF you find it, you can’t touch it, because the artwork could collapse. Cause of death: buried under and crushed to death from your mountain of unread books 😉 *lol*

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  8. Servetus schreibt:

    You just have to stack them in the order you want to read them (or rather, in reverse order). Put the book you *most* want to read on the bottom, and you will get there in a few years!


  9. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Not a system I would be organized enough to use I fear

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  10. Servetus schreibt:



  11. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Problems of a book horder 😉

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  12. Michele Marsh schreibt:

    Herba I’ll definitely seek this book out. I worked in my college library for all four years of school and loved it! Thank you for the review! ❤️


  13. Herba schreibt:

    @Michele: Cool. Did you like it there? You’re welcome!

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  14. Michele Marsh schreibt:

    I did! It was a great social place and just to be around all these books and back then we weren’t computerized it was all done by hand and memory!


  15. Herba schreibt:

    @Michele: Sounds lovely

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  16. Servetus schreibt:

    having read this now: I appreciated the general respect for patrons that he showed. I also thought the discussion of fines was interesting — this is a hot topic at the moment. It seems most public libraries are moving toward getting rid of them. One of the big privileges of being a professor at a large research university was unlimited borrowing (both items and duration) and no fines — but SO many people abused it that it was really embarrassing.


  17. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: I noticed that too and really liked it. But I think that attitude is caused (at least partly) because American librarians (Brits too I think) see the people in libraries as patrons and have a generell claim to serve as service provider. This attitude is a bit different in Germany and it’ll takes time to change that.

    Re fines: it’s also dicsussed here, but it’s hard to change anything because fines are often the only way for smal public libraries to create a budget for new media 😦


  18. Servetus schreibt:

    I’m not sure I’d get rid of fines totally, as I find they do pay a role for me in terms of timely return of precisely new media. I almost never incur a fine on a book but DVDs usually have a loan period of a week (understandably) and it’s easy to let that time get away from me. Also, I think there’d be a fair amount of problem with people just keeping new media that they liked, if there were no fines on those items. (This is how a lot of professors used the university library — get the lib. to buy a book they couldn’t afford, then just keep the library book in their own office indefinitely.)


  19. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Yeah, I am a ‚fan‘ (not really the right word, but I can’t think of any better right now) of fines too. At least in some cases.
    Before my time in my current library every professor had an own key to the library. THAT must have been fun to roam around their offices if a book was missing 😉 my boss still gets a red face while talking about that time *lol*

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  20. Servetus schreibt:

    It’s a bit like Thorin’s gold-sickness except that it’s more widespread and it’s thought provoking that the nicest and most ethical academic on the planet can become an absolute dragon when given untrammeled access to books.

    When I was a fellow in Mainz using the IEG library, there was a book I needed. It had been checked out to the same Mitarbeiter for 20 years. The librarian said I should just go ask him to see it. (I’m sure she knew what a problem it would be, and was possibly using me to do her dirty work.) So I went to his office and asked if I could have it. he pulled it out of a really dusty corner, and said, „I“ll let you use it, but I need it back tomorrow.“

    My (now ex)SO joked that he hadn’t touched the book in two decades but on that one particular night, he might have and I was stopping him!


  21. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: THIS! *lol*
    During my training the head of the department where I was stationed at the time retired and my training supervisor who sat in the room next to his was given the task to distribute the stuff that was work-related and that he had left behind. She very angrily drew the line with two books from the ‚Deutsche Nationalbibliothek‘ that he should have returned in 1989 (this happened in 2002) *giggle*

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  22. Servetus schreibt:

    That would be hilarious if it weren’t so disturbing — but there’s a reason that librarians don’t want usually want to let academics into the Magazin. Tbh I’m not sure what I’d do if someone let me wander the Library of Congress after dark with all the alarms turned off, either!


  23. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: In my library not even every co-worker can get in our closed magazines without a reason and permission 😉
    It will be intersting to see how our professors cope when my current library moves into our new building and our stock will get intigrated to our online loan system with deadlines and fines (even only on paper because members of the teaching staff don’t pay any). Atm we are a reference library and the profs and other teaching staff are the only ones who can loan books from us

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  24. Servetus schreibt:

    I think it’s a good idea — even if only in terms of maintaining control over collection inventory.


  25. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Yes. This is mostly the only thing I look forward to with this move. My co-workers think it will take away a lot of possibilty to help people (atm we can make an exceptions over the weekend for really desperate students for example and that won’t be possible with the electronic system) but on the other hand most of our books will then be borrowable and so the need for exceptions will go away.
    And the teaching stuff will be made more accountable for the books they take and we won’t have to argue over nearly every single book the unteachables have in their office for decades


  26. Servetus schreibt:

    I also think exceptions have a tendency to get arbitrary — how many people don’t ask for an exception because they think they won’t get one? How many abuse the privilege? I am not a rigid rule follower but a moderate amount of rules usually make things better for people.

    It’s a bit like a „habeas corpus“ policy for books, lol. Not a bad thing.


  27. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: This!
    And it can make situations really tricky when an patron states ‚but the other librarian….‘ and you can’t trust that all your co-workers are in line and haven’t made this exception the patron now claims again.
    Another thing some of my actual co-workers don’t understand because they never worked full time in a big cumstomer services department. This adjustment will be fun too when we’ll move to the new building *sigh*

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  28. Servetus schreibt:

    [sympathizing strongly on moving. Uch.]

    to return to an earlier question: I found out today who it is that arranges their books by color: it’s people who want to sell their houses. A former student of mine is selling her condo and was advised by an expert to arrange her books in her white shelves, neatly by color, and discarding any books that don’t look completely new.


  29. Herba schreibt:

    @Servetus: Thanks!
    Oooooookaaaaaaaaaaaaay. That is……weird.

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