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

This is the second book I've read about the library field, and it was a pretty good book.  Marilyn Johnson's current release is Lives In Ruins; it's about the field of archaeology and those who work in the field.  I'd read a review of Lives In Ruins, and I thought it sounded interesting, and through the course of investigating that book, I found This Book Is Overdue.  Incidentally, at the beginning of this book Johnson explains how research for a previous book about obituaries lead her to write about librarians.  Based on how I much enjoyed this book, I will definitely check out some of her other books.

Johnson sheds light on the field of library science by examining the many diverse, sometimes eccentric, personalities who work in the profession.  And while I could relate to some of the incidents recounted in the book, there were some that, thankfully (very thankfully), I could not relate.

Johnson covers one New York library system's bumpy online card catalog migration in one chapter, while another chapter illuminates the so-called 'Connecticut 4.'  The Connecticut 4 were four librarians who sued the federal government after receiving a top secret letter demanding patron internet usage records from the Department of Homeland Security.  This demand was made without a subpoena or court order and under a gag order--not only were the contents of the letter classified, but the fact of receipt of the letter was classified as well.  And it was legal, if not entirely ethical, under the USA PATRIOT Act.  This was probably the scariest, most surreal chapter in the book.  Another interesting chapter was the one about the New York Public Library system and its merging of its research and circulating libraries.

Honestly, who am I kidding--the whole book was an interesting read, and strangely, it read like a page turner.  It was hard to put down.  In addition to the subject matter being interesting, Johnson has a very accessible writing style.  If you want to learn more about the field of library science or the people who work at your public library, I encourage you to pick up this book.  You won't regret it.

--Reviewed by Ms. Angie


Carmen said…
Wow, Ms. Angie, Homeland Security! That's Library Confidential! Scary and interesting stuff.

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