Kristina Cooper

Library Hell by Kristina Cooper

“Monica and Becky are gluing sparkles onto paper ducks,” writes Anne Hayes in an email to a coworker. “Just another day in the lunatic asylum.” Anne wants to catalog her journals in peace, but the university library where she works attracts crazy employees the way a black hole sucks in light. The serials librarian squeaks and sighs and hoards campus mail in numbered boxes. Her husband, the cataloging librarian, wears his jeans pulled up to his neck and knocks over library carts when enraged. Monica Sharpe, a recent hire, is obsessed with organizing “Fantastic Flock Fridays” and winning the Dynamic Duck contest. This contest, named after the university’s mascot, was created by the PR department in an effort to rally employee morale at the financially struggling Lakeville University.

As the academic year trudges on, unhappy library staff vent their hostilities at meetings while the director hides in his office and composes desperate emails calling for staff harmony. When Anne mocks a Fantastic Flock Friday event, she becomes the target of Monica’s increasingly unhinged attempts to win the Dynamic Duck contest and gain campus-wide fame as a Team Leader Who Solves Problems—Anne being the Problem. To keep her job (and her sanity), Anne will have to get a little crazy to fight crazy.

A series of emails exchanged between coworkers reveals the story of a library staff striving to stay relevant in a paperless world that is redefining what “higher education” means—and to do so without killing each other.

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