Monday, January 14, 2013

Book 2: This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

I selected This Book is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All written by Marilyn Johnson and published in 2010 as my second book for the 52 Nonfiction Books in 52 Weeks Challenge. As a librarian myself, I was excited to find out what it is about my profession that makes me a superhero of least in Johnson's eyes.

Aside from librarians, librarians in training, and those with a librarian fetish, many people would probably never think to check out a title that focuses solely on librarianship. In my experience (and Johnson's as well), most individuals are content with the librarian stereotype-  old fashioned (or just plain old), meek, and unsociable with tidy buns and an aversion to technology. "You need a Masters to be a librarian?!" is the typical response when stating that you went to grad school to get your MLIS. We are a mysterious and, according to some, endangered breed.

Lucky for us, Johnson enthusiastically explores the reality of librarianship and the larger than life characters at the front lines of this constantly evolving field.While many (librarian) reviewers were dissatisfied with the level of comprehensiveness of the book (it is not comprehensive at all- it takes delicious bites out of an ever-expanding field of work), others praised Johnson's anecdotal style. Some complain that we never do learn HOW librarians and cybrarians can save us all. We might not, but we do learn about the challenges and victories experienced by librarians that indirectly and directly affect our lives (and maybe even democracy as we know it). For example, Johnson tells the story of the Connecticut librarians who (with support from the American Civil Liberties Union) stood up against the federal government to defend their patrons' privacy against the Patriot Act. They likened seizing patrons' library records to spying on people in voting booths. They won....though the Patriot Act remains.

I did enjoy this book (not just as a librarian but as a lover of miscellaneous information), and I learned about new, innovative uses for technology in my field of work (like digital libraries popping up all over Second Life). On the flip side, Johnson is prone to generalizations (we're not all cat lovers), and the content of the book is disorganized. It's difficult to keep track of the overarching theme besides perhaps this idea that librarians really ARE awesome and have something to offer you besides musty old books and constant shushing. And Johnson proves that they do.

Sharlene Edwards
Program Director

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