Book 15 of my 2015 Reading Challenge
read from Feb. 3 - 25
read from Feb. 3 - 25
This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
by Marilyn Johnson
Summary (via Goodreads)
Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of papers 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 cliches 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 protesters; 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 us - neither the experts nor the hopelessly baffled - can get along without human help. And not just any help - we 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?
The author did a lot of research and I was interested while reading but this definitely skewed more 'non-fiction that reads like a textbook' than 'non-fiction that reads like a story but happens to be true' for me. If you have a large interest in library work (not just libraries), you'll find the book informative. If you don't, this isn't a book to casually pick up.
To fit with the hodgepodge style and myriad of topics covered, here are some of my hodgepodge reactions...
I loved the random little libraries and archives, like the American Kennel Club Library. I wish there had been more stories like those.
As part of her research she read librarian blogs. The posts about poop - every librarian has a poop story! - and "signs we never thought we'd need to make" (Iguanas are not allowed in the building) had me nodding. I wish there had been more stories like those. I have some stories from my time in the stacks...based on what I had hoped this book would be, I might be better off just checking out the blogs she referenced.
I'm a research gal at heart and the tidbit on how the OCLC was named was a 'fun fact' I filed away. I would also like to visit the Internet Archive and the September 11th Digital Archive; I hadn't heard of either of these resources before.
The difference in libraries and how they embrace technology was interesting. I had no idea there was a whole world on Second Life for librarians to gather. And that the librarians like to virtually party at TX950, named for the Library of Congress call number for clubs and bars? Haha, classic.
A Few Quotes from the Book
"A library is a place to go for a reality check, a bracing dose of literature, or a "true reflection of our history," whether it's a brick-and-mortar building constructed a century ago or a fanciful arrangement of computer codes. The librarian is the organizer, the animating spirit behind it, and the navigator. Her job is to create order out of the confusion of the past, even as she enables us to blast into the future."
"Librarians are essential players in the information revolution because they level that field. They enable those without money or education to read and learn the same thing as the billionaire and the Ph.D."
"In tough times, a librarian is a terrible thing to waste."
"We'll always need a place for the originals of the Gutenberg Bible, the Declaration of Independence (handwritten by Jefferson), and the yizkor memorial books, all that's left of various Jewish communities erased over the years, from the First Crusade in the thirteenth century to the Holocaust. We'll always need printed books that don't mutate the way digital books do; we'll always need places to display books, auditoriums for book talks, circles for story time; we'll always need brick-and-mortar libraries."
"[Librarians] would be whatever they needed to be that day: information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, computer technicians, historians, confidantes, clerks, social workers, storytellers, or, in this case, guardians of my peace."