December 30, 2011

This Book Is Overdue!

And the TBR Dare begins!  My favorite book blogger, C.B. James over at Ready When You Are, C. B. is hosting a reading dare (rather than "challenge") in which your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to read only books you already own between January 1 and April 1.  I decided to start early and may go late since I'll be mixing in some book club books as well.

You ever enter a book blogger's book give-away contest?  I did!  I won The Book of Lost Things from C.B. last year and since he knew I had recently become a school librarian, he added an ARC of this book in the package.  So I decided it was the perfect book to kick off me TBR Dare with.

The whole title is This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.  She seems to be one of those magazine writers who now also write books.  Like Jon Krakauer, Mary Roach, and Susan Orleans.  I really like that kind of writer and this was no exception.

She uses the metaphor of the frontier to get things kicked off and returns to the idea with a library on a literal (if former) frontier, Deadwood, SD to the virtual frontier of Second Life.  In between she follows online blogging librarians, and primarily reference librarians and archivists.

I especially enjoyed the chapter on the Connecticut Four.  This would be the Connecticut librarians who, "in 2005, received a national security letter from the FBI demanding information about who had used one of their computers on a particular day" (p. 71).  What followed was a bizarre Kafkaesque years-long court case that was a prime example of why the Patriot Act is a bad idea.  But of course the participants in the case were not permitted to discuss the case until after that lovely piece of legislation had already been renewed.  Moly Ivins and Lou Dubose covered this case in their book Bill of Wrongs in 2007, which I also recommend.

The thing that you get from this book is a sense of optimism for the profession.  Yes, things are changing fast.  Formats and information needs both.  But as the Occupy Wall Street librarians show, along with the amazing translators and archivists and specialty librarians (the Kennel Club has their own library, and it's a doozy!) covered in this book; librarians are here to stay and will help us find exactly what we need.

Thanks, C. B.!