June 25, 2007
"The Case of the Missing Books" by Ian Sansom
Israel Armstrong is a young librarian from North London. He has landed his first permanent position as a librarian and moved to a small town in Northern Ireland to take up his post -- but things are not quite as he expected. The library has been closed and he is told he will provide service from an old, run down, rusty mobile library (i.e. bookmobile) and even worse than that, all of the library’s books (15,000 volumes) are missing – likely stolen. Trapped in a job he no longer wants (but is contractually required to keep), in a town where he doesn’t fit in (he can’t even find a decent cup of coffee, let alone an espresso), Israel must locate the missing books to be released from his contract. Israel is out of his element, doesn’t understand much of what the villagers say, and stumbles from clue to clue as he rather ineptly, but comically, searches for the missing books. As the weeks progress he repeatedly gets hurt (black eye, broken nose, etc.), his clothes catch on fire (so he is reduced to wearing a teenager’s t-shirts) and he lives on little more than potatoes (not a lot of culinary options for a Jewish vegetarian staying at a pig farmer’s house – living in the chicken coop). “The Case of the Missing Books” is the first in a new mystery series (A Mobile Library Mystery) by Ian Sansom. This gentle mystery full of interesting small town characters and culture clashes is likely the start to a charming new series.
June 11, 2007
"The Camel Bookmobile" by Marsha Hamilton
Marsha Hamilton’s novel “The Camel Bookmobile,” tells the story of a 36-year old, New York librarian who moves to Kenya for a year as part of a program to run a mobile library that uses camels for transporting the librarians and books to remote villages. The narrative changes each chapter to tell the story from the perspective a different character including the American, the librarian from Nairobi who oversees the program, the teacher in Mididima, one of the small, nomadic villages, and several others in Mididima. The camel library causes turmoil in Mididima: the teacher wants the library to help increase literacy and options for the people of his village; but the tribal elders are concerned the exposure to books, especially those that are irrelevant to their nomadic lifestyle, will destroy their oral traditions of storytelling. A bigger problem looms when one of the town’s young men, Scar Boy, refuses to return the books he borrowed. Due to the small number of books available for the program, the Kenyan librarian considers loss of a book reason to stop visiting the village. The American librarian and local teacher try to figure out how to retrieve the books from Scar Boy so the camel library can continue to visit, while the town elders push for the return of the books to protect the reputation of the village prior to refusing to allow the library to return. This a gentle story about the clash of cultures and ethics, the development of friendships, and the fragility of family life.
ISBN 13: 978-0-06-117348-6