Scream at the Librarian is a book about Joel J. Rane's experiences as a reference librarian in the Literature and Fiction Department of the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles, which in addition to its intended public purpose as an educational facility had become a refuge for squatters, drug addicts, and the mentally ill. In a series of humorous character sketches, each about a page long, Rane describes his encounters with some of the eccentric patrons he met on the job. He names each of his characters-Mr. Brain Damage, The Angry Grandfather, The Screamer, for example-retelling the real-life accounts of his often vivid personal experiences. "…There are thousands of people in the streets, limping through the doors of the Central Library, beating on the pay phones, not begging for help but demanding to pull the rest of us down into their dark hole. The library is their refuge, four stories up, four stories down…. This is the Downtown Los Angeles I knew."