A new breed of free-range librarians
My first thought upon seeing the title of this book was, wow, talk about preaching to the choir. I love librarians: their quiet efficiency, their confident bookishness and the way they can always help no matter the request, from a picture book on potty training to the latest chick lit to an obscure bluegrass CD. But as Marilyn Johnson postulates in the gloriously geeky This Book is Overdue, librarians are no longer ladies in cardigans hovering over the card catalog. The new librarians are bloggers, information junkies and protectors of freedom and privacy in the Patriot Act era. Says Johnson, “The most visible change to librarianship in the past generation is maybe the simplest: Librarians have left the building.”
Johnson travels around the country and the world meeting those behind Library 2.0. She writes about the “street librarians” who stood outside the 2008 Republican National Convention with their iPhones at the ready, telling passersby about the candidates, nearby tourist attractions and street closings. She visits college librarians working to arm students from far-flung nations with the latest technology to help them earn their degrees. She talks to librarians who sued to protect patrons’ records from the invasive grasp of the feds.
She also writes—very amusingly—about the seemingly endless number of librarians with blogs: The Annoyed Librarian, Miss Information, Free Range Librarian. It turns out these “mousy” librarians have a lot of opinions, and they’re not afraid to share them
Energetic, winningly acerbic and downright fun, This Book is Overdue will leave you convinced that librarians really can save the world.
Amy Scribner writes from Olympia, Washington.