Friday, February 19, 2010

book review: This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
As many of you know I'm a librarian (or someone who has worked as a librarian for two years and is now six credits away from my fancy official degree). I don't remember where I first heard about this book, but I think it was either Estella's Revenge or Bibliophile by the Sea. As it was conveniently released the week of my wedding, I pre-ordered it for my Kindle for wedding reading. 

What I didn't know, but perhaps should have inferred from the book's title (This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All) is the author, Marilyn Johnson, is not a librarian. The book isn't necessarily aimed at librarians, although I think there are things all librarians, readers and citizens could learn from this book. Ms. Johnson's first book is about obituaries, and she discovered librarians had absolutely fascinating obituaries and focused her next book on us. Awesome, yes? As I often confess, part of the allure of librarianship for me is being in academic environment but still able to enjoy life and have hobbies. I am not a slave to my job, although I love my job. I have work-life-love balance and intellectual stimulation from all three. I am lucky.

Each chapter has a different topic. Some were more interesting to  me than others, and although she explores many aspects of librarianship, especially in the modern and changing sense, it's not a comprehensive book (nor is it supposed to be.) It was so refreshing to have a non-librarian not only defend the profession but praise it. Sadly, when you tell people you're in graduate school in library and information studies, they often ask why. When I respond, "being a librarian requires a master's degree," people are often dumbfounded and shocked. The exception, usually, are the people who actually have a friend or family member who is a librarian. They exclaim with joy when you say you're a library student.

If you like books, technology or organizational models at all (hello, book bloggers!), you will like this book. My one complaint? The book is mostly about public librarians. As an academic librarian, I was eager for Ms. Johnson to point out how our jobs are different. It wasn't the scope of her book, but I'd love to see a follow-up go in-depth into academic librarianship. It's a fun, informative, and fascinating read. As a librarian, it was delightful to see an outsider take an honest look at the profession. As a reader, it was a delight to read Ms. Johnson's beautiful, descriptive language.

Also, I can't wait to meet Marilyn Johnson at the Empire State Book Festival!

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Pages: 288 pages in the print edition
Publication date: February 2, 2010
Source: I bought it on my Kindle. (Thanks, Harper for not delaying ebook sales! If you had, I probably wouldn't have read this book yet. If I had, I wouldn't have paid for it; I would have gotten it from the library.)

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  1. I got the 'You need a Master's Degree to be a librarian?!' with *that Look* all the time. I actually had a person jokingly ask me if I was in library school when I was working at the circ desk once because I was explaining that we had different types of interlibrary loans. He was completely shocked to find out that such a thing did actually exist and yes I was actually getting my degree.

    I've worked in both academic and public libraries and I actually prefer public. Although public libraries seem to be really undervaluing the degree right now because they think they can train people on their own to do the librarian jobs and then just pay them less because they don't have the Master's.

    Sounds like an interesting book!

  2. I recently saw this book and thought it looked great. I'm an undergrad wanting to go to library school so I think I'll enjoy it.

  3. I love that you bought this book for your wedding reading! It sounds like one I'd really enjoy.

  4. You're so lucky you get to meet her!!! She's my new non-fic writer crush. Mary Roach has been dethroned.


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