A bored preteen discovers that there’s more to library work than developing a world-class “SHUSH” or shooting through librarian-sized pneumatic tubes.
Indeed, hardly has 11-year-old Lenora stepped through the mysterious portal that connects her public library to a much, much larger one then she is invited to take the librarian’s oath (“Do you swear to venture forth bravely and find the answer to any question, no matter the challenge?”). She’s given a Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian badge and whirled off on a series of assignments that take her from the year 8000 to correct a leap-year misconception to a near stranding on a massive globe as she searches for the place with the world’s longest name. And as if such realistically typical reference work isn’t hard enough on its own, along the way she is repeatedly attacked by bowler-wearing villains (some of them robots) collectively known as the Forces of Darkness and dedicated to the suppression of intellectual freedom. Fortunately, being the resourceful sort who gets a thrill of pleasure from realizing that she is lost, Lenora is well up to most challenges—and for the rest she gets solid support from a multispecies supporting cast led by her supervisor, Chief Answerer Malachi. Lenora presents white; Malachi is a 10-foot-tall, dark-skinned woman.
Not the first tale to be set in a universal library but unusually clever in the details and commendably accurate in its own way. (Fantasy. 9-11)