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This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
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This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

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3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  3,411 ratings  ·  904 reviews
Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper, disks, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians—they can help!

Those who predicted the death of libraries forgot to consider that, in the automated maze of contemporary life, none of us—expert and hopelessly baffled alike—can get along without h
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Paperback, 304 pages
Published January 25th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published January 15th 2010)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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RandomAnthony
This Book is Overdue is a quick read with an identity crisis. Should the book be a serious analysis of the manner in which libraries and librarians are changing, for better or for worse, with the rise of technology? Should it be a memoir-ish narrative of the author's experience visiting libraries (both in real and Second Life) and librarians? What about a huggy chapter on teaching potential librarians from developing cultures how to use technology to improve the lives of their patrons? These par ...more
Brian Bess
As a recent MLIS graduate and new library professional, I approached this book with the anticipation that I would read a book that would serve as a standard bearer for my profession and bring all the vital functions that libraries provide to the attention of a wider audience. Here was our champion sounding the clarion call for a profession that has historically been unappreciated and certainly underfunded. Perhaps this book would explain to the world at least what we really do.
Perhaps my expecta
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Susanne E
My 3-star rating is somewhat misleading - some chapters were 5-star worthy, such as the one about the Connecticut 4 who challenged the Patriot Act and an account of a collaboration between reference librarians and artists. The book also includes some of the best and most eloquent defenses I've heard of the value of libraries in the 21st century and some good thoughts on technology and libraries. But at other points Johnson veered off into a weird obsession with Second Life, got sidetracked by a ...more
Nathaniel
As a male, non-hipster library school student with skill in actual library technology (not just social media and empty buzzwords such as "Library 2.0"), I found this book to be incredibly depressing and superficial. I'm sure there are plenty in the library community at large who can appreciate it, but I really thought it did a poor job of showing the true diversity of the library community - not just reference librarians in public libraries, but academic, school, and special librarians as well, ...more
Kimberly
Not my favorite style of book--lots of interesting, but somewhat random stories. Some of the stories were pretty cool, but I also came away from the book feeling like I'll be a failure in life if I'm not some over-the-top amazing librarian who changes the world!!! Those stories and people are cool, but to some extent, they're the exception, not the norm. We can't all take on the Supreme Court by disregarding an FBI letter and challenging the Patriot Act. If we get the opportunity, great, but man ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Fairly interesting book...I skimmed mostly (forgive me librarians of the world!). It wasn't exactly what I'd expected, still fairly interesting take on what librarians have done for the world (all of us) and are still doing. You might find it what you're looking for, I appreciate what librarians have to put up with (including the bureaucracies). My daughter worked for the Nashville system "back when" and after a few years had done and was doing every job there was to do...but, she topped out at ...more
Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
One full star off for snarky reference to avoiding dog ownership and absence of similar judgment on cat-ownership's insanity.

I thoroughly enjoyed (most of) this book. It's true that I'm a recent re-convert to library usage, after many years of avoiding them because of one old prune-faced, pursey-lipped hag's humiliation of me: She wouldn't let twelve-year-old me check out Stranger in a Strange Land "because it has S-E-X in it" until my mother approved. Mama's rejoinder to that was, "Honey, so do
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Grace
"In tough times, a librarian is a terrible thing to waste." And so starts this charming and inside glimpse into the life and times of being a librarian in ever evolving libraries in the 21st century. Author Marilyn Johnson takes her readers on a journey through a database migration in Westchester County, New York, to changing the largest research library in the New York City Public Library system into a circulation library, to librarians setting up virtual libraries and reference desks in Second ...more
Beverly
Wow. How unusual. A journalist who does a superficial job in covering a subject that raises more questions than the author can ask let alone answer. This is a good example of why I so often rate non-fiction with few stars. It fails to demonstrate the human ability to think, but is full of examples of the human shortcoming of glibness.

Basically this was a library fan's view of the current state of computer technology in libraries today which raises no questions about the future. The achievements
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Cathe Olson
Being a library advocate/activist as well as an elementary school library media tech, I had such high hopes for this book. I didn't even wait for my public library to get it in, I ordered it so I could get it right away. Unfortunately, I have to say this book did not measure up to my expectations. I loved what it was trying to do . . . show how important and relevant librarians have been and continue to be, but I found this book kind of . . . boring. It was mostly anecdotes of the author's exper ...more
Erik
My strong love and affinity for my local public library system has been put into words in Johnson’s passionately researched book on the twenty-first century public library – internet, books, and all.

Librarians’ values are as sound as Girl Scouts’: truth, free speech, and universal literacy. And, like Scouts, they possess a quality that I think makes librarians invaluable and indispensible: they want help. They want to help us. They want to be of service. And they’re not trying to sell us anythi
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Becky
This book was definitely a great advertisement for the profession, especially as it was written by someone outside the profession. Its evocation of the tattooed knitting zinester librarian cliche (certainly better than the shushing bun cliche) could have become a wee bit silly, but I think it mostly managed not to.

*browses other reviews* No, it wasn't a serious-minded document that used dollar signs and political philosophy to change the way government and citizens think about libraries, but it
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Megan Stroup Tristao
Well, perhaps I am biased, but this book was fantastic! (And this possible bias is because I'm currently in school to earn a Master of Library and Information Science, if anyone was wondering.) Marilyn Johnson is NOT a librarian, but she followed some around for years (or so it seems) to write this book, and I appreciate her perspective as an "outsider" sharing all these wonderful anecdotes with us. The book is humorous yet serious and its chapters cover libraries from the NYPL research library ...more
Pam
Who knew there were librarian fan boys! As one myself, I guess I shouldn't be surprised but this woman wrote an entire book about the changing nature of librarians and the information world. You really have to be into finding out stuff or keeping stuff in a codified way in order to love this book. However it gives an excellent, comprehensive view of the librarian world today, from community-use librarians and their struggles with circulation systems to research librarians and the role of the web ...more
Julia
I'm a book lover, a library-holic (no 12- step programs for this!) and when I visit my or any library I love talking with the librarians. So when I saw this on the shelf I had to borrow it!

This non-fiction is about the superhuman job librarians and archivists perform to preserve, protect and make accessible our culture, our knowledge, our values.
David Smith was a reference librarian at NYPL whose mission it was to help writers find the data they needed in the enormous reference library there. H
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Dusty Roether
With the question of the future of libraries on the line in the minds of some, Johnson’s book is a timely work that sheds light on the wildly diverse world of librarianship. Some argue that the library is an antiquated institution that is not necessary in the world of the iPad, ebooks, and Google Books. However, Johnson illustrates the diverse ways that librarians and other information professionals serve the research needs of their users–often in the most unexpected ways. From a unique program ...more
Joan
I requested this book from the Amazon Vine program because I love libraries and librarians. I thought I'd be reading a real discussion about the place of the library in this cyber-age. But I didn't get that. In fact, it's hard to say what I did get.

The problem is stated clearly and succinctly by the author early on (though I doubt she realized that she was describing her book!), when she says, "This is a story . . . researched partly on a computer in mazes so extended and complex -- every link a
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Dave
Marilyn Johnson has accomplished one of the most difficult tasks a journalist can attempt: she accurately portrayed change in the midst of it happening. In This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, she tackles librarianship, a profession undergoing changes that rival the Industrial Revolution. A daunting feat, but she nailed it.

The major change agent in the field is the same one rocketing through the rest of our society, technology. Johnson's singular accomplishment w
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Melanie
This was a really fun book, and I'm glad I finally got around to listening to it. I wasn't a huge fan of the reader, but the content was interesting enough that it didn't matter too much.

I couldn't help but wonder what a non-library reader would think of the book. Does everyone consider librarians to be defenders of freedom like we do? Does anyone else find the necessary, and seemingly unlikely, symbiosis between the IT department and the cataloging department interesting? Librarians have sued t
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Sarah
As a librarian, I always get sucked into reading "popular" treatments of libraries and librarianship, and while this book isn't perfect I definitely do think it's the best of all the library-related books I've read in the last couple of years. On my more cynical days I feel like no one appreciates what great resources libraries (and librarians!) are, and it's good for the ego to hear from someone who is clearly such a fan of librarians, what we do, and what we stand for.

Like many other reviewers
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Dolly
I have decided that when I grow up I would like to become a librarian. So some time in the remaining 5 years of my military career I plan to pursue a Masters degree in Library and Information Science. In the meantime, I saw this book in the New books section at my local library and thought I would see what I plan to get myself into.

The book is a real eye-opener. The world of the librarian is so much more technical and global now, more so than I even thought it would be. This book demonstrates t
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Siobhan
Overall informative and entertaining, definitely (as others mentioned) a "feel good" book about libraries, and how essential libraries are to present populations and not as a relic of the past. Though I would knock off a half-star for the chapter on Second Life; as far as I can tell from the literature, librarians are obsessed with it, but as a librarian, I don't know anyone who is (and I'm certainly not, though I'm not going to lie -- I stopped mid-chapter to see if there were any WoW guilds fo ...more
Erica
Loved it. I was already a fan of marilyn johnson from her previous book, The Dead Beat, which was all about obituaries. At the time, I said her writing was like Mary Roach but better, and I stand by that. I think she's the best "many perspectives on a single subject" author around, and this one is of course of special interest to anyone interested in reading and libraries, which should be anyone reading this review. I'm very excited to work on the marketing for the paperback of this next year. L ...more
John
Reread, because you know I ate it up when it first came out. Still a bit of a patchwork, but for an "outsider" she does a fairly good job of describing what was going on at NYPL a few years back (when I was working there). And what librarians in general are about.

Fave lines:

"...librarians aren't programmed to say 'We have no idea.' The words are like chalk in their mouth."

(On a blog search) "So far I had found The Tattooed Librarian; No, I don't look like a librarian; Yes, I do look like a libr
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William Clemens
I tried, I just couldn't get through this book. As a librarian I hoped for some revelations and information in this book, instead I just got bored. I can't do a proper review because after forcing myself through the first 120 pages, which took me four weeks, I threw in the towel.

Marilyn Johnson is clever and somewhat entertaining, but her constant amazement and wonder at everything librarians could do got really old. Blah...
Matthew
It was inspiring in a lot of ways, made me feel proud to be part of such an eclectic and awesome profession. I would have given in four stars if it didn't have an entire chapter on Second Life nonsense. Sorry, I just don't see that as relevant for the future at all and it just seemed like a chapter full of "ooh, look at this novelty-- isn't it NEATO?!?!" and little of substance.
Georgene
A quick read that I found to be mildly light and entertaining. I enjoyed learning about Second Life and the New York Public Library as well as the Connecticut Four, librarians who challenged the USA Patriot Act and sued the government rather than turn over their library computer records to the FBI. But although this book was written in 2010, it somehow seemed dated. And some of the librarians the author encountered seemed really weird.

Quotes I liked:

"The library remains one of the few spaces i
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Kasia
Mar 09, 2010 Kasia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
This look interesting, although the word "cybrarian" gives me hives...
Jonny99
An unsuccessful defense of the librarians’ relevance in the Google Age. From the subtitle which overstates the central thesis of the book, ”How Librarians…Can Save Us All”, you can infer that the text within will be a somewhat desperate effort to defend librarians’ relevance in an age of digitized text and sophisticated search algorithms by protesting too much. Suffice to say if someone writes a book explaining why your job is still relevant…it’s not. Johnson apparently is a fervent, and potenti ...more
Tim
As a devout library lover in my youth, though finding very little reason to visit in my older years (and actually feeling sad about this) due to largely to lack of reading time... this was a fun book to read. It does its job of making libraries seem exciting, and full of awesomeness. The writer expresses the loves that are close to all library-lover's hearts: books, collecting books, organizing books, reading book, knowing about books and the stuff we found in books -- oh and all that other medi ...more
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - This Book is Overdue 2 13 Nov 10, 2012 03:27PM  
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Author of three non-fiction books about those who work to capture, preserve, provide access to, and excavate our cultural memories.
More about Marilyn Johnson...
The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries Lives in Ruins: Archeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble Life in Ruins

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“Good librarians are natural intelligence operatives. They possess all of the skills and characteristics required for that work: curiosity, wide-ranging knowledge, good memories, organization and analytical aptitude, and discretion.” 37 likes
“In tough times, a librarian is a terrible thing to waste.” 35 likes
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