Local Libraries, Books and the Guerrilla Librarian

The QuipperyIn ‘The Alphabet and Good Intentions’ I explained the rather unique book filing system that our local librarians use. On occasion, this drives me to distraction – so last week I kind of refiled all the John Grisham’s. Now his books are in two locations instead of four.

I suppose I could ask to be a volunteer at this library, but I’ve met a few of the other volunteers, and they are not a very flexible group of women, (either in the way they run the library, or in their ability to reach to the top and bottom shelves – they are quite a bit older than me…).  I have decided I am much more suited to being a guerrilla librarian.

I found other references to just this kind of activity: “…Maxwell had also found a vocation of sorts, unpaid but satisfying, even addicting. He moved library books.” Though the author of this story isn’t stated, the blog post with the rest of the story is  at the Swiss Army Librarian.

Have you ever been a Guerrilla Librarian?


19 thoughts on “Local Libraries, Books and the Guerrilla Librarian

  1. One reflecting my many disappointments in life:
    “Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all.” -Abraham Lincoln

    Why I’m my own best friend:
    “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” –Abraham Lincoln

    Something I hope my writing will never be:
    “Classic – a book which people praise and don’t read.” –Mark Twain


  2. Whenever I find a misfiled book in the Library, I move it. I ignore all the notices (they’re everywhere) saying ‘Do not reshelve books’ (I suppose they are there for all the people who put things back in the wrong place). I was a member of the Library Club in high school and once considered a career in library sciences (and I taught database and technology courses in the library program at our local community college for years) so I feel ‘qualified’ to put books back where they belong. A few years ago I asked about volunteering to shelve books (there are always hundreds of books and videos sitting on carts where no one can access them; just seeing them like that makes my fingers itchy) but was told they don’t use volunteers anymore because ‘they just can’t seem to put things away properly’. Boy, would I like to prove them wrong!


    1. Talk about protecting their turf! Speaking of which, there is a whole other world out there if you look at unionized library staff…


  3. I’m afraid it won’t be long before children won’t even know what real libararies and bookstores are. (“What does it mean to ‘shelve’ a book?” “What’s the Dewey Decimal System?”)


    1. Not sure how it is in other libraries, but our library has a fair amount of kids and young adults in there, and our branch is fairly small.


    2. I agree, there are many things children will never know about – the relics of our generation. But, there are some exciting new opportunities on the horizon!

      I’ve read a number of articles on the future of libraries, and the key to their survival seems to be how well they adapt to the digital age. There is still a need for an information gathering place, but the product will look different! Many of the bookstores in our area feature comfy chairs and they encourage you to sit, sip a coffee and read. They have become social gathering places. Libraries will likely move in the same direction – offering free wifi and access to computers, printers, new technologies, and interactive learning programs for youth.


  4. What a delightful quote…can’t wait to share it with my mother, probably one of the most avid readers and lover-of-libraries on the planet!


    1. I have a couple of those kinds of gals in my family too!
      Hope calving season is successful for you this year. Alberta is a tough place in the spring!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a confession I’ve never made before now … I’m library-stupid. I managed to make it through high school and university without ever demystifying how a library actually works. My strategy has always been – ask for help. I hope I never encounter the same librarian that George Carlin did.


  6. Interesting.
    Yes, I am a formally trained librarian –I did my Master’s in Library Science. My career for past 3 decades, has been in specialized libraries: engineering, law and government in private sector (over 8 years in private sector) and rest in public sector in 3 Canadian jurisdictions (Ontario provincial govn’t, B.C. ) In Calgary it is in electronic documents management.

    Nowadays library directors worry less about misshelved books vs. changing the wrongful perception of libraries that it’s just a useless, dusty place for books. Little do most citizens realize their library provides access to licensed meaty research databases for free via library card…with your tax dollars to pay the licenses.

    But taxonomy design still obsesses certain people –rather interesting to observe computer science folks who know less about intellectual content and how people understand language (which is part of information management and educating users on finding something) but they would like to control taxonomy design and design subject classification systems.

    What is quite disturbing is loss of information literacy: people not caring the source of their information nor understanding the background of the authors. Lack of critical analysis on multiple (not just 1) information sources. No wonder why Trump is making inroads south of our border.


    1. I’m a formally untrained library user, and I’d like our library to give up on taxonomy and the ‘height of the book’, and just shelve by author!

      Speaking of critical analysis, Trump’s honesty is why he is making inroads. People are tired of being lied to by politicians. They are tired of empty promises and grandiose gestures. Trump is entirely transparent about what he thinks and plans on doing. He’s not afraid of being criticized. He doesn’t care who likes him and who doesn’t.


      1. For fiction books, shelving by author is fine. For non-fiction, it is more helpful the physical books are organized by similar subject content. Then one uses a database to find authors who have written books on more than 1 subject. I would never recommend non-fiction books arranged on shelf by author. It was in a law library I worked in that served the judges in Ontario. Closed off to the public. So books on ie. family law were scattered all over the place. And there was no database system.

        part of my job was to completely reorganize it by subject, catalogue book onto database system with useful searchable access points.

        I don’t have much respect for Trump –he’s not demonstrating respect consistently for highly competent women, many ordinary peace-loving Muslims worldwide (it’s the handful of extremists that’s causing violence), Mexicans, etc. He is clever…knowing how to reel in the uninformed, those with lower educational levels, those who are attracted to slogans but not deep long analysis and debate, etc.


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