Book Review: Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern

Hi all!

I’ll admit I’ve been really bad about writing up blog posts. I’ve been reading pretty steadily, and last I checked I am on track to stick to my reading goal of 75 books for the year!

Right now, I have a lot going on. I recently received a handful of ARCs to read and in terms of life, I started a new job at the end of April that has a much longer commute. While I am adjusting to this new position, I’ve put some of my goals on hold, but I am extremely happy to be in my new role, which is much less stressful. I should in the near future have quite a few reviews coming your way.

Now–for what the title promised you: a review of Summer Hours at the Robbers Library by Sue Halpern.

At the time that I read this book, many had already read it. There was a long line to get a chance to read it through my library, but I am happy I finally got the chance to read the book. It wasn’t the quick read I was expecting and in the long run–I had to force myself to finish the book. I wanted to read the book because, at the time, I was a librarian in a public library in a suburban town in New Hampshire. The book is set in a rural town in New Hampshire and I wanted to see how the book compared to reality.

I had a lot of problems with how Halpern represented libraries in her book. One of my biggest concerns was how the tiny library treated patron privacy in the book. NH has very strict patron privacy laws. Library staff are also not allowed to comment on the reading material chosen by patrons. This annoyance occurred very early in the book and may have resulted in hesitancy in finishing the book.

I was also annoyed that library staff had so much time on their hands to do the NY Times crossword puzzle while on the desk. This would be considered highly inappropriate, and after working in various libraries for the last 8 years I have found the smaller the library the busier you are because you are doing more things with a smaller staff.

I worked as a cataloger in and for libraries for 8 years before just recently moving into an acquisitions role at a liberal arts university. In this book the main character, Kit, is shamed for creating missing book slips. That is how you clean your catalog–by knowing what you actually have! This helps patrons actually be able to find what the want in your collection. The book cited reasons to not do this having to do with the library’s budget–but that’s not how town funding or collection development work.

It took me a long while to get past the shortcomings of the book that had to do with how libraries function and pay attention to the human story. Once I switched my focus I enjoyed the book a lot more. I could relate to both main characters background stories and was able to see that for some of the same reasons I had turned to books and libraries to ground myself. I think this book would be best for those that enjoy libraries, but don’t know too much about how they work. It was a shame that I got stuck in the weeds of details, distracted from the main plot.

I gave this 3/5 stars on Goodreads.

Happy Reading all!

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