This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (TLC Tour Review)

Title: This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

Author: Marilyn Johnson (website, twitter)

Publication Year: 2010

Pages: 304

Genre: Non-Fiction

Source: Review copy from the publisher, for TLC Tours

From the cover:

Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper, disks, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians — they can help!

Those who predicted the death of libraries forgot to consider that, in the automated maze of contemporary life, none of us — expert and hopelessly baffled alike — can get along without human help. And not just any help: we need librarians, the only ones who can save us from being buried by the digital age. This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals — from the blunt and obscenely funny bloggers to the quiet, law-abiding librarians gagged by the FBI. These are the 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.

Right now, I’m working as a guidance counsellor at an alternative school, and earlier this year, I was an English teacher at the same one. Before that, though, I was a teacher-librarian at my school last year. And I loved it! I may not be a librarian right now, or even necessarily want to spend the rest of my career as a school librarian, but it’s definitely a  job that I enjoyed and a position that I respect.

And so, I’ve been looking forward to reading This Book Is Overdue for quite a while. I’ve had it on my “to read” list for almost a year now, since before it was even available to buy, and I lucked out when I got onto the TLC tour to read and review it.

Johnson approaches the topic from so many different angles that it’s hard to distill into just a few sentences.I was excited to read about all of the different things that librarians have done and are doing today, and particularly about where librarianship is heading for the future. Ultimately, though, what she has written seems most like an Ode To Librarians, if there were such a thing. At its most basic, this respect for librarians seems to rest on the commonalities they all share:

Librarians’ values are as sound as Girl Scouts’: truth, free speech, and universal literacy. And, like Scouts, they possess a quality that I think makes librarians invaluable and indispensable: they want to help. They want to help us. They want to be of service. And they’re not trying to sell us anything.

Think about it. Have you ever met a truly unhelpful librarian?

(I don’t mean that mean old frump at the reception desk of my university library, or the high school student page who was really only there to shelve books. Neither of them were really “librarians”, though some people might have thought so.)

This Book Is Overdue is not just a representation of all of the good things about librarians, although it really does cover those bases very well. It also clearly shows the challenges that are facing today’s librarians and the librarians of the future – including technology, budgets, geographic boundaries (or lack thereof), and even stereotypes and misunderstandings of what a librarian really is. And all of these things make it into a fasinating read.

I finished this book in less than two days, a feat for me lately. This was possible only because Johnson’s subject is interesting and the writing was engaging enough to keep me coming back for more. I wanted to hear about more cool librarians – there just had to be more awesome anecdotes and introductions coming up! If you’re interested in books or libraries – ahem. are any of you not? – then you should definitely pick up this book. It’s a must-read!

Rating:

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This entry was posted by Carina on Tuesday, January 25th, 2011 at 5:33 pm and is filed under reviews . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

6 Comments

  1. Alex says:

    There’s been some buzz about this one on the book blogosphere recently!

    Have you heard about The Library by Night? If you liked This Book Is Overdue, you’ll almost for sure like that one as well.

  2. I really enjoyed this one too. I read it when it first came out. I’m a librarian, and I was inspired by all of the cool things we do (and often outside of work). It’s funny: people are rarely surprised when they hear I have a book blog because I’m a librarian, but I’m an academic librarian. I teach undergraduates and assist with research; I rarely deal with novels at work. For me, my blog is my labor of love:-)

    • Carina says:

      Very interesting! I’m an English teacher, so nobody’s really that surprised – except that I usually review books that most of my students definitely do not have the literacy skills to read.

  3. Amy says:

    This sounds fantastic – I definitely hope to read it at some point.

  4. trish says:

    I had to laugh when you said, “Have you ever met a truly unhelpful librarian? (I don’t mean that mean old frump at the reception desk of my university library, or the high school student page who was really only there to shelve books. Neither of them were really “librarians”, though some people might have thought so.)”

    It seems like there’s a new generation of librarians coming in, and I’ll be interested to see how they change things, probably for the better!

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