Sunday, February 21, 2010

This Book Is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson

Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper and discs, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians! They want to help. They're not selling a thing. And librarians know best how to beat a path through the googolplex sources of information available to us, writes Marilyn Johnson, whose previous book, The Dead Beat, breathed merry life into the obituary-writing profession.

This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals and a revelation for readers burned out on the cliches and stereotyping of librarians. Blunt and obscenely funny bloggers spill their stories in these pages, as do a tattooed, hard-partying children's librarian; a fresh-scrubbed Catholic couple who teach missionaries to use computers; a blue-haired radical who uses her smartphone to help guide street protestors; a plethora of voluptuous avatars and cybrarians; the quiet, law-abiding librarians gagged by the FBI; and a boxing archivist. These are just a few of the visionaries Johnson captures here, pragmatic idealists who fuse the tools of the digital age with their love for the written word and the enduring values of free speech, open access, and scout-badge-quality assistance to anyone in need.

Those who predicted the death of libraries forgot to consider that in the automated maze of contemporary life, none of us—neither the experts nor the hopelessly baffled—can get along without human help. And not just any help—we need librarians, who won't charge us by the question or roll their eyes, no matter what we ask. Who are they? What do they know? And how quickly can they save us from being buried by the digital age?

This Book is Overdue is an exploration of what libraries and librarians are in the twenty first century. It's a love letter to librarians and what they are trying to do. Take two librarians and put them side by side, they could be completely different in appearance, personality, interests among other things. The definition of a librarian has grown so far to some it might not be recognizable anymore.

A wide variety of things are explored by Johnson in the book, from libraries that only exist in an alternative role-playing universe (Second Life) to librarians that blog and create zines, to librarians that are forced to deal with changes to their library they may or may not agree with to librarians defending their patrons against the FBI. There is a lot here, so much so that I'm not sure if I took it all in through this first reading, it's a book that is meant to be kept around and read again, I think.

There are definitely chapters and sections that interested me more than others like a section that talks about artists working together with librarians and it being filmed for the library's website, Julia Rothman a favorite blogger/artist of mine is mentioned. To librarians taking to blogs to share their frustrations and funny stories about... poop! Yes you read that right. Basically there is something here for everyone but everything might not interest you.

The book also provides you with lots of people, blogs, libraries etc to explore to learn more. I'd definitely suggest this for librarians and people that are interested in libraries and what their future looks like.

This Book is Overdue was released on February 2nd 2010
Genre: Non-Fiction
4/5 Stars
ARC provided by Amazon Vine


  1. This book looks really good. I'm an undergrad wanting to go to library school so I think I will have to check it out (no pun intended!).

  2. Well I definitely have to read this one.

  3. After all the great reviews I've read, I really want to read this book!

  4. Anonymous3:57 PM

    I heard an interview with the author on NPR and immediately put the book on hold at the library. As a librarian, I love books that are odes to all this library. =)


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