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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

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  4,654 ratings  ·  1,088 reviews
In This Book is Overdue!, acclaimed author Marilyn Johnson celebrates libraries and librarians, and, as she did in her popular first book, The Dead Beat, discovers offbeat and eloquent characters in the quietest corners. In defiance of doomsayers, Johnson finds librarians more vital and necessary than ever, as they fuse the tools of the digital age with love for the writte ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 2nd 2010 by Harper (first published January 15th 2010)
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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  4,654 ratings  ·  1,088 reviews

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Feb 11, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1audio, 2non-fiction
Exactly what the blurb says, this was a fun romp through those who serve so proudly. A little goes a long way, especially when it comes to an entire chapter on librarians in the virtual world of Second Life, though. Still, she covered a lot of ground & showed how libraries are evolving to keep meeting their & our needs. They are one of the best democratic institutions allowing free & anonymous access to one & all. The part about the FBI's attempts to gain information is plain scary.

The coverage
Susanne E
Jan 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Jul 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Richard Derus
Oct 08, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mike (the Paladin)
Sep 04, 2010 rated it liked it
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
"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
May 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
William Clemens
Jun 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
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...
Dusty Roether
Sep 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Cathe Fein Olson
Feb 14, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Jan 17, 2018 rated it did not like it
Can I give this non-stars? I don't want to offend anyone, least of all my heroes: librarians. So, suffice it to say, this book was not at all what I expected and I expect my expectations are not really at fault here. I knew I was going for librarian lite when I saw the cover and title, but was excited to learn more about modern librarianship and anything about peripheral library staff that support our amazing librarians -- like media or digital specialists, information specialists and beyond. Bu ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Librarians and bibliophiles
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
Feb 16, 2010 added it
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
Jan 17, 2011 rated it liked it
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
May 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Megan Tristao
Jan 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Eli Claire
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
I am technically, although not officially, a librarian - I am a recent MA Librarianship graduate, but have yet to work in a library. I picked up this book because, well, duh ... books about libraries and information are right up my alley. Unfortunately, this one was pretty disjointed, and I had to force myself to finish it. The chapters didn’t seem to go together and I didn’t get a sense that the author had any new ideas. It might have to do with the fact that the book was published in 2007 - wh ...more
Mar 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 10, 2010 added it
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
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Nonfiction about librarians and changes with technology

This should have been much better. I'm a sucker for books about books and books about libraries. I visit my local library about once a week and think librarians are amazingly wonderful. But this book dragged. The author pointed towards a bunch of shiny objects - look at this tattooed librarian over here! - but didn't pull off any kind of actual analysis of the subject. I skimmed a lot in the last half. As written in the tag line, librarians
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it
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. ...more
Sep 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3
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 17 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.

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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.” 47 likes
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