This Book Is Overdue!
Readers usually know about libraries. But how much do they really know? Do they know their librarians? Do they know the services that can be provided? Marilyn Johnson was doing research for a previous book, The Dead Beat, and kept appreciating librarians more and more. So she decided to research and write about them. Wow! Are we a powerful group or what? (I'm a medical librarian, so more in the background.) In about 250 pages Johnson gives us a look into librarians of all ages and callings. Some are everyday librarians in a public libraries keeping their readers (patrons? customers? users? clients? What is the best word for us?) happy with the information we need this time. But others...
Johnson highlights men and women in the industry who have gone above what we might expect. There's the gentleman in the New York City Library (where you can find the lions) who recognized the little known authors who used the research available. He tailored services just for those people. There are the librarians who are active in Second Life on the Internet, providing the same reference and information services as are available in real life. There are the Massachusetts librarians who sued to not release their confidential borrowing and online access information to the FBI under the Patriot Act. (If you don't know the story, Johnson gives a good account.)
Marilyn Johnson immersed herself into the library and information age. She talks to people about the interface of librarians and IT staff people. They have to work together for their readers, but they often impede each other. She talks about economic cut backs and shut downs. Her focus is on how these obstacles are overcome, sidestepped, or ignored for the good of the reader. Librarians usually are in the business to help others. They're going to fine one way or another to do that.
Librarians are also very good a laughing at themselves. Johnson talks about many different ways including book cart drills, parties, stereotyping and breaking those stereotypes. Although she doesn't mention it in This Book Is Overdue!, if you haven't seen the March of the Librarians on YouTube yet, check it out.
From there you can connect to other funny videos - some of which are in my blog, including a book cart drill/dance to Thriller. In fact, Johnson mentions a librarian in Australia who has located numerous librarian Thriller videos - they're more popular than I realized.
I am overawed by the women and men mentioned in this book. Of course Johnson highlights the people who have gone beyond their job description. But don't be surprised - many librarians do. This Book Is Overdue! is a great snapshot at the modern evolution of the information providers' profession - in whatever venue where the shingle is posted.
Now I'd love to know the stories Johnson had to cut out of this 250 page book - I know this is only a small tip of those people she found.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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