This Book Is Overdue!
How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
By Marilyn Johnson
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061431609, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 2010
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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 clichÉs 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 usneither the experts nor the hopelessly baffledcan get along without human help. And not just any helpwe 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?
A former staff writer for Life and an editor at Esquire, Redbook, and Outside, Marilyn Johnson is the author of The Dead Beat. She lives in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
“Marilyn Johnsons’s marvelous book about the vital importance of librarians in the cyber age is the very opposite of a ‘Shhhhh!’ It’s a very loud ‘Hooray!’ ever so timely and altogether deserved. Move over, Google--make way for the indispensable and all-knowing lady behind the desk.”
-Christopher Buckley, author of Losing Mum and Pup
“Johnson has made her way to the secret underbelly of librarianship, and the result is both amazing and delightful. Savvy, brave, hip, brilliant, these are not your childhood librarians. And who better to tell their stories than the sly, wise Marilyn Johnson.”
-Mary Roach, author of Bonk
“To those who have imagined a dalliance with a librarian--and there are millions of us--Marilyn Johnson’s new book, chocked as it is full of strange, compelling stories, offers insight into the wildness behind the orderly facade of the humans who are at the controls of our information.”
-Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout and Spooner
“This is a book for readers who know that words can be wild and dangerous, that uncensored access to information is a right and a privilege, and that the attempt to ‘catalog the world in all its complexity’ is heroic beyond compare.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“Johnson does for the library profession what Malcolm Gladwell did for the theory of memetics in The Tipping Point.”
-Nora Rawlinson, The Tipping Point
“Topical, witty.... Johnson’s wry report is a must-read for anyone who’s used a library in the past quarter century.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)