When I read the plot summary for The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy, it sounded perfect for my book club. It’s the story of a librarian who drives a mobile library van across the wind-swept fields and hills of Ireland, bringing books to people in far-flung little villages. There’s also a deceased aunt’s old house on a cliff to be remodeled, a romance subplot, and divorce drama. Perfect book club fare. But in the end, I objected to this book for a reason I didn’t expect – the main character, Hanna Casey, is just not a good librarian.
Librarians are supposed to be helpful, kind, knowledgeable: able to pull a book title out of the air or troubleshoot computer issues on the fly. But Hanna Casey does not do any of those things. She is terrible with technology, hates people touching her books, and doesn’t believe that libraries should have any sort of programs, even book clubs. Here at the Nordonia Hills Branch, we pride ourselves on the depth and breadth of programs we offer, and on how skilled and friendly our staff is. Librarians cannot and should not be the stereotype of the mean, shushing librarian that Hanna Casey embodies. Libraries are places for everyone, and I wish that this book had reflected that. However, readers who enjoy Maeve Binchy will enjoy the large cast, small village drama, and the wild green Irish setting. I am not saying that no one should read this book – my book club really enjoyed it! Just remember that your friendly neighborhood librarians are here to help, and we’re not all like Hanna Casey.
Review by Shannon Wood
Adult Services Librarian
Nordonia Hills Branch Library