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The Librarian: A Memoir

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The library saved her. Now she wants to save the library. I'm a Librarian. Every day I encounter people. I serve the regulars, the crime enthusiastics, the bookworms, the homeless, the eccentrics, the jobless, the teenagers, the toddlers, the aged. I know my community well. And they know me. The library is a sanctuary for some, a place for warmth for other and, on many occ The library saved her. Now she wants to save the library. I'm a Librarian. Every day I encounter people. I serve the regulars, the crime enthusiastics, the bookworms, the homeless, the eccentrics, the jobless, the teenagers, the toddlers, the aged. I know my community well. And they know me. The library is a sanctuary for some, a place for warmth for other and, on many occassions, an internet cafe. It's not always the books that bring us together. That's why you might be surprised to hear that I've been a witness to an attempted murder, a target for a drug gang and the last hope for people in desperate poverty. The quirks of library life. But what I didn't expect was for a simple part-time job to become a passionate battle for survival, both for me and for the library. I'm sharing stories from my daily life to show you that being a librarian isn't what you think it is. Libraries are falling apart at the seams and we need to start caring before its too late. So this is my eye-opening account of the strange and wonderful library that saved me and why I'm on a mission to save yours.


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The library saved her. Now she wants to save the library. I'm a Librarian. Every day I encounter people. I serve the regulars, the crime enthusiastics, the bookworms, the homeless, the eccentrics, the jobless, the teenagers, the toddlers, the aged. I know my community well. And they know me. The library is a sanctuary for some, a place for warmth for other and, on many occ The library saved her. Now she wants to save the library. I'm a Librarian. Every day I encounter people. I serve the regulars, the crime enthusiastics, the bookworms, the homeless, the eccentrics, the jobless, the teenagers, the toddlers, the aged. I know my community well. And they know me. The library is a sanctuary for some, a place for warmth for other and, on many occassions, an internet cafe. It's not always the books that bring us together. That's why you might be surprised to hear that I've been a witness to an attempted murder, a target for a drug gang and the last hope for people in desperate poverty. The quirks of library life. But what I didn't expect was for a simple part-time job to become a passionate battle for survival, both for me and for the library. I'm sharing stories from my daily life to show you that being a librarian isn't what you think it is. Libraries are falling apart at the seams and we need to start caring before its too late. So this is my eye-opening account of the strange and wonderful library that saved me and why I'm on a mission to save yours.

56 review for The Librarian: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Allie Morgan

    Hello, I wrote this! Here are some content warnings that you may wish to know about: This book contains discussion of mental illness, trauma and suicidal ideation. There are some mentions of violence against public / lone workers. Other themes in the book include poverty, disability and social inequality. There are some very brief mentions of drug addiction. Please message me if you'd like me to add anything to this list or have questions about a specific trigger. Hello, I wrote this! Here are some content warnings that you may wish to know about: This book contains discussion of mental illness, trauma and suicidal ideation. There are some mentions of violence against public / lone workers. Other themes in the book include poverty, disability and social inequality. There are some very brief mentions of drug addiction. Please message me if you'd like me to add anything to this list or have questions about a specific trigger.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Helen White

    Ah how to review this. If you work in a library it's all so familiar. If you've ever thought to yourself ooo I fancy working in a library I bet that's a nice job - well it is. As long as you realise that one day you've felt great for helping someone and being thanked then the next day someone calls you an effing c*** and shits in the children's library. Morgan hits library paradoxes perfectly. She wants to help people but there aren't enough staff, resources, time etc. Then for everyone you help Ah how to review this. If you work in a library it's all so familiar. If you've ever thought to yourself ooo I fancy working in a library I bet that's a nice job - well it is. As long as you realise that one day you've felt great for helping someone and being thanked then the next day someone calls you an effing c*** and shits in the children's library. Morgan hits library paradoxes perfectly. She wants to help people but there aren't enough staff, resources, time etc. Then for everyone you help there's another person who just wants someone to shout at. The other staff are a mix of enthusiastic, bitter, terrified or naive. Morgan brilliantly explains the problems libraries face and the fundamental rule that they are for the people that surround them, if they aren't used then they are at risk. Well worth reading for its insights.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sian A

    (Full disclosure, I'm reasonably long term Twitter mutuals with the author.) This is a really moving book about being on the frontline of vital public services that are being slashed by austerity. It is also about the magic of books. It is also about recovery from severe mental health problems. It is also about living with trauma. It is also about community and choosing to be compassionate and creating positive change. Eye opening and heartwarming. I will say - content warning for a fair amount o (Full disclosure, I'm reasonably long term Twitter mutuals with the author.) This is a really moving book about being on the frontline of vital public services that are being slashed by austerity. It is also about the magic of books. It is also about recovery from severe mental health problems. It is also about living with trauma. It is also about community and choosing to be compassionate and creating positive change. Eye opening and heartwarming. I will say - content warning for a fair amount of discussion of suicidal ideation.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jody

    What a book. I laughed, and cried A LOT. It perfectly mirrors my own experiences of working in a library (mental health stuff too) but more importantly makes it so clear how libraries are the heart of a community and final safety net for many. A must read, and a rallying call to us all.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Schopflin

    Devastating, and very well-written, description of the extraordinary social value public libraries offer and how difficult it is for workers on the ground to deliver the service in the face of years of budget cuts. Also describes the experience of attempting to negotiate The World while recovering from serious mental health issues. This is not a cosy 'confessions of a librarian' narrative. If you liked it, I can thoroughly recommend Chris Paling's 'Reading Allowed' which explores some of the sam Devastating, and very well-written, description of the extraordinary social value public libraries offer and how difficult it is for workers on the ground to deliver the service in the face of years of budget cuts. Also describes the experience of attempting to negotiate The World while recovering from serious mental health issues. This is not a cosy 'confessions of a librarian' narrative. If you liked it, I can thoroughly recommend Chris Paling's 'Reading Allowed' which explores some of the same issues in a more detached way and a very different environment.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tombazio

    You think you know what libraries (and librarians) are all about? Read this and then we can talk. Also addresses some important themes like mental health, poverty and equality.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Colin

    It has been a while since I found a book so engaging. Usually, I start a book and then it gets picked up and put down over a number of weeks. By contrast, I finished this book in 3 days - I am not a fast reader, and I'm certainly not a "Reader-with-a-capital-R" as described in the book - I am, like the author, in awe at those folks. It might be clichéd to say but I laughed and I cried. There are some awful scenarios, but always hope, a desire to make things better, and the author shows that even It has been a while since I found a book so engaging. Usually, I start a book and then it gets picked up and put down over a number of weeks. By contrast, I finished this book in 3 days - I am not a fast reader, and I'm certainly not a "Reader-with-a-capital-R" as described in the book - I am, like the author, in awe at those folks. It might be clichéd to say but I laughed and I cried. There are some awful scenarios, but always hope, a desire to make things better, and the author shows that even something small and seemingly insignificant can make a big difference. I especially liked the rule that should you "Read what you love, not what you think you should read" - I wished I'd been told that in high school - It would have saved me trying to wade through the "classics" and other great tomes because I thought that's what adults should be reading rather than books I might have enjoyed more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tanya McIlwraith

    I’m not good with words. I struggle to be eloquent. Let me say this - 5 stars isn’t enough. Allie writes passionately about libraries. It is obvious how strongly she believes in them. I will be honest I have neglected my local library for a while now and this book reminded me of the magic of libraries and also makes me feel incredibly scared that our library may never re-open. This book had me in tears more than once. It had me laughing too. I recognised many situations Allie found herself in fro I’m not good with words. I struggle to be eloquent. Let me say this - 5 stars isn’t enough. Allie writes passionately about libraries. It is obvious how strongly she believes in them. I will be honest I have neglected my local library for a while now and this book reminded me of the magic of libraries and also makes me feel incredibly scared that our library may never re-open. This book had me in tears more than once. It had me laughing too. I recognised many situations Allie found herself in from my previous employment in the NHS. I contacted Allie a couple of times whilst reading the book and she was always sweet enough to reply. I’m rambling. If you’ve read this far just do yourself a favour and get a copy of this book. Treasure it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ida Ottesen

    Equal parts a love letter to libraries and a rallying cry for change/a wake up call, this book is simply wonderful. It's about the life-changing magic of libraries and the people who work there, and the people who use it. I don't even know what to write about this book: I love libraries and have recently begun working in one (a childhood dream I didn't realise I had), and I remember seeing Morgan's viral tweets about what she has seen/experienced while working in a public library. In this book, s Equal parts a love letter to libraries and a rallying cry for change/a wake up call, this book is simply wonderful. It's about the life-changing magic of libraries and the people who work there, and the people who use it. I don't even know what to write about this book: I love libraries and have recently begun working in one (a childhood dream I didn't realise I had), and I remember seeing Morgan's viral tweets about what she has seen/experienced while working in a public library. In this book, she tells more stories, some bad (violent incidents, pee, poop, management, bureaucracy) some good (caring and passionate colleagues, citizens, regulars and Readers-with-a-big-R). Along the way, we also hear about Morgan's struggles with mental health (I learned a great coping mechanism involving tea) and her personal fight for her local public library.  You will read this and feel a great fondness for libraries and the people who work there, but also anger at the things that are holding them back.  Morgan is inspiring, writes with great empathy and humour, and isn't afraid to talk about the tough stuff. For the library-obsessed, or people who would just like to know what goes on behind the scenes. 

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    I'm an American Twitter follower of Allie's, one of the many who happened across the viral Twitter thread. Although the book won't be out in the US for a few months still, I pre-ordered it from Blackwell's because I was so excited about it. I have such a hard time putting into words how much books, reading, and libraries have had an effect on me. There's a passage in this book describing Allie's experience with books and her grandfather that had me tearing up because of how similar it is to mine. I'm an American Twitter follower of Allie's, one of the many who happened across the viral Twitter thread. Although the book won't be out in the US for a few months still, I pre-ordered it from Blackwell's because I was so excited about it. I have such a hard time putting into words how much books, reading, and libraries have had an effect on me. There's a passage in this book describing Allie's experience with books and her grandfather that had me tearing up because of how similar it is to mine. This memoir has a comfortable flow and upon finishing it I feel a sense of familiarity with the regulars and rhythms of Roscree library. I'm going to be recommending this book to people for a long while.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Sutherland

    This was amazing - I stayed up till midnight to finish reading it the day it arrived. Allie paints such a familiar picture of local libraries that I can't help wondering if she's close by in real life, it's all so vivid and reminiscent she could be talking about your own town. Or at least that deprived part of it down the road, that we prefer not to look at, but Allie has waded in to try and save <3 A heartwarming memoir written by a big-hearted worker! PS buy this book to feed her snakes :) This was amazing - I stayed up till midnight to finish reading it the day it arrived. Allie paints such a familiar picture of local libraries that I can't help wondering if she's close by in real life, it's all so vivid and reminiscent she could be talking about your own town. Or at least that deprived part of it down the road, that we prefer not to look at, but Allie has waded in to try and save <3 A heartwarming memoir written by a big-hearted worker! PS buy this book to feed her snakes :)

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paul Mackay

    I don't think I have written a review on here before. And I honestly don't think that this can count as a review either. I've followed Allie on twitter for a while, I was very excited to find out that she had written a book on her experiences as a librarian. I don't think I will be able to find the words to give justice to what it was to read about her experiences. Because that is what it is, it's an experience. Something that I hope everyone has the chance to go through themselves. I hope that th I don't think I have written a review on here before. And I honestly don't think that this can count as a review either. I've followed Allie on twitter for a while, I was very excited to find out that she had written a book on her experiences as a librarian. I don't think I will be able to find the words to give justice to what it was to read about her experiences. Because that is what it is, it's an experience. Something that I hope everyone has the chance to go through themselves. I hope that there will be an audiobook version forthcoming soon to allow more people to go on this journey.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Gracie Beswick

    Painfully accurate to my own experience working in a library and I would really recommend it for anyone interested in a career or just to learn more about modern libraries. Because it hit so close to home it wasnt always the most enjoyable read, and it made me miss my regulars who I haven't seen in a year now very dearly. I just hope enough people will come out in support of libraries when the pandemic finishes to not let lockdown be the final nail in the coffin. Painfully accurate to my own experience working in a library and I would really recommend it for anyone interested in a career or just to learn more about modern libraries. Because it hit so close to home it wasnt always the most enjoyable read, and it made me miss my regulars who I haven't seen in a year now very dearly. I just hope enough people will come out in support of libraries when the pandemic finishes to not let lockdown be the final nail in the coffin.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    This was recommended and read all the hype so as a Librarian thought it would be good to read. Sadly this book seemed so boring that I have given up with it as I have so many waiting to be read as part of book clubs and free copies from publishers. It may suit others but I wanted it to be a bit more light hearted I think and it wasn't. This was recommended and read all the hype so as a Librarian thought it would be good to read. Sadly this book seemed so boring that I have given up with it as I have so many waiting to be read as part of book clubs and free copies from publishers. It may suit others but I wanted it to be a bit more light hearted I think and it wasn't.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marianne McKiernan

    I loved this book; it made me remember why I wanted to be a librarian, why a librarian named Mrs. Massey in Albuquerque was my hero, and why I need to hug my local librarians and thank them for their service as soon as my branch reopens. Thanks, Allie.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sharon-Louise

    Hartwarming and inspiring!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Grant

    Lovely wee book quirky and an insightful. What a shame we do not fund this essential service . Great to know there are still council workers going the extra mile. Go Allie

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Ramage

    What a lovely read. Libraries are a magical place, full of possibilities and they should be treated as such.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mandy Higgins

    A fascinating insight into the wonders and challenges of working in a library.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chris O'Brien

    I could not book this book down. Allie successfully transitions from Twitter to print in her frank observations about libraries and the people who use them, from society’s most vulnerable to the people who just love to read. I was delighted to see her quirky and loveable personality seen on Twitter was present throughout the book. The calculating logic of a fellow nerd but mixed with a fiery Celtic passion and wit. She shines a spotlight on parts of our society who are normally forgotten about in I could not book this book down. Allie successfully transitions from Twitter to print in her frank observations about libraries and the people who use them, from society’s most vulnerable to the people who just love to read. I was delighted to see her quirky and loveable personality seen on Twitter was present throughout the book. The calculating logic of a fellow nerd but mixed with a fiery Celtic passion and wit. She shines a spotlight on parts of our society who are normally forgotten about in normal times, let alone our current difficult times. We can all recognise the management described in this work. The ones totally out of their depth or just completely out of touch with normal life. It really does make you angrily think, where is my tax money going if not on these vital services? However the book is not just about library’s. Allie adds her own mental health issues throughout and shared her struggles and coping mechanisms in her own unique way. This is delightful book. A real eye opener and a must read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Marshall

  22. 5 out of 5

    specialagentCK

  23. 5 out of 5

    Allen

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lou

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jaden-marie

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 4 out of 5

    Claire

  28. 5 out of 5

    Maegwin

  29. 4 out of 5

    Omri Galai

  30. 5 out of 5

    V I N C E N T

  31. 5 out of 5

    Janelle

  32. 5 out of 5

    Heather Romanowski Book Realm Revisions, LLC

  33. 5 out of 5

    Kitt

  34. 5 out of 5

    Marc

  35. 4 out of 5

    Dana Chudy

  36. 4 out of 5

    Martyn

  37. 5 out of 5

    Kath

  38. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Wynne

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Dow

  40. 5 out of 5

    Arianna

  41. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

  42. 4 out of 5

    smalltownbookmom

  43. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  44. 5 out of 5

    Kirsty

  45. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Kramer Bussel

  46. 4 out of 5

    Robin Mandell

  47. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

  48. 4 out of 5

    EstherCW

  49. 4 out of 5

    Maiko-chan [|]

  50. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

  51. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Gioia

  52. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

  53. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

  54. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  55. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

  56. 4 out of 5

    Mounia

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