Book Review: This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians And Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson

I have a friend who is I think about 23 years old.    He’s quite bright, but sometimes the things he does not know make it very difficult to talk to him.   One of the most frustrating arguments we’ve yet had is over the value of professional librarians.    “But I can just do a Google search and use advanced tags if I need to find some particular bit of information,”  let’s call him Burt, declaims.   ” Libraries mostly just hire losers who score well on civil service exams,”  he continues.    No matter how hard I tried I could not get him to see the value of information professionals. Which made me appreciate even more Marilyn Johnson’s outstanding book  This Book Is Overdue!,  a fascinating look at some very high tech modern librarians.

I was, I think, most fascinated by the brilliant and amazing productive librarians in the virtual reality world Second Life.    Johnson notes that it seemed as though every time she signed out of SL to spend time in Real Life tracking down some librarian or another, she would return to find that someone had opened yet another library in Second Life while she was away.     From my own experiences working with some pretty phenomenal librarians at PCLS,  I was already aware of what intelligent and creative and wired people modern librarians are yet I was still amazed not only by the Second Life librarians but also the entirely virtual librarians and the Internet Public Library and by a group of librarians who are training a corps of activists all over the world to work on development projects in their home countries while communicating via the Internet and using information resources to transform their activism.    Honestly,  librarians have come a long, long way from  being shushers who manned the card catalog and Marilyn Johnson’s This Book Is Overdue! shows just how far they’ve come.   Even if Burt never does ‘get it’.

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