I admire Marilyn Johnson's interest in off-the-wall subjects. First, she wrote about obituaries and the people who wrote them, in her fascinating book, The Dead Beat. In her new book, she turned to librarians as her subjects. How can a librarian not love the title of her latest? It's This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All.
Johnson became interested in librarians when she was writing her previous book, and discovered that librarians had some of the most interesting obits. She said she "Began to get the idea that librarias were where it was happening - wide open territory for innovators, activists, and pioneers." She sees librarians as people who value service to others, along with "truth, free speech, and universal literacy." And, she interviewe librarians on the web, followed their blogs, met them in Second Life, and the New York Public Library. She talked to the Connecticut librarians who fought the Patriot Act, librarians who took reference to the streets, and ones who taught computer skills to the world. Johnson admired the work of archivists, and public librarians who opened their doors to the world.
Johnson may have gone on a little bit too much about Second Life, but, for those of us who are still excited about our work in libraries, regret the loss of so much in bad economic times, but still want to share books and information with the world, This Book is Overdue is a challenge, and a reward. We have work to do to keep up with our patrons, or, as one librarian said, our readers. Even so, it's nice to know how Marilyn Johnson, one patron, feels about librarians. "I was under the librarians' protection. Civil servants and servants of civility, they had my back. They would be whatever they needed to be that day: information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, compuer techncicians, historians, confidantes, clerks, social workers, storytellers, or, in this case, guardians of my peace." Thank you, Marilyn Johnson, for showing all of us what librarians can do for the world, when given a chance.
Marilyn Johnson's website is www.marilynjohnson.net
This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson. HarperCollins, ©2010. ISBN 9780061431609 (hardcover), 288p.
FTC Full Disclosure: I requested this book from the publisher, so I could review it.