Book Review: This Book Is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson

February 2, 2011


“This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All” by Marilyn Johnson (Website| Twitter)is a non-fiction account of the author’s research and pontificates of how librarians will guide our culture into technological literacy. The book paints a picture of how the role of librarians is changing with technology.

  • 282 pages
  • Publisher ‏ : Harper Perennial
  • Paperback ‏ : 282 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0061431613

Harper has made available one (1) copy of “This Book is Overdue” to be given to one lucky winner – enter at the end of the post.

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Disclaimer: I am a big fan of public libraries.

Public libraries are some of the few public buildings the public actually uses. Whether you are rich or poor, educated or not and no matter to which political party you donated to, you are always welcome at your local library – they are the great equalizer of our society.

I loved what this book was trying to do – make librarians relevant at the age of Google. Being in the IT field for the past 20 years (wow, it really has been that long) I can certainly appreciate the “information overload” message and how sifting through mountains of information could be a show stopper (how can you possibly make a decision?) unless you know how to find the relevant information.

But we don’t even need to go this far – in some states you cannot even file for unemployment benefits unless you do it on-line.

Each chapter in the book has a different focus, some chapters were more interesting than the others but they are mostly independent from one another. Ms. Johnson explores different aspects of the job librarians do everyday (archiving, categorizing and helping patrons) with an eye towards the technological modernization of their profession. When it comes to organizational models this book is fun, honest and a fast read. Even though the book is well written, the chapter where Ms. Johnson explores the online librarian games and fantasy world is…well…boring. However, if you trudge through it (or skip it) the book keeps on with its fascinating premise.

I wish this book would have been more focused. While every section certainly has its merits, most everyone who will pick up this book knows the relevancy of librarians to us “commoners” and most of the book is about the author’s experiences researching…this book. The points in the book would make a great reference point next time you go to the town meeting to argue against slashing the library’s budget (again).

A bit of nitpicking – a book about the importance of research should have picked up on the fact that the PATRIOT Act is an acronym and hence capitalized.


The book is divided into 12 distinct chapters, these don’t have to be read in order because each chapter stands on its own.

Chapter 1: The Frontier – talks about how the role of librarians is changing.
Chapter 2: Information Sickness – how librarians can help us with information overload.
Chapter 3: On the Ground – the alliance between librarians and IT folks
Chapter 4: The Blog People – Blogging librarians are introduced.
Chapter 5: Big Brother and the Holdout Company – devoted to the case of librarians suing the government as to not to comply with the PATRIOT Act.
Chapter 6: How to Change the World – Librarians helping students from developing nations.
Chapter 7: To the Ramparts! – Anarchist librarians hit the streets… watch out.
Chapter 8: Follow That Tattooed Librarian – Why the stereotype f the shushing librarian no longer holds true.
Chapter 9: Wizards of Odd – Librarians and virtual reality running virtual libraries
Chapter 10: Gotham City – a closer look at the librarians at the New York City Public Library
Chapter 11: What’s Worth Saving? – with all those billions of documents and terabytes of data, how does one decide what to save?
Chapter 12: The Best Day – Opening day of a new user friendly and dazzling library is opening in Darien, CT

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  • Contest is for one (1) new copy of “This Book is Overdue”.
  • There will be ONE (1) WINNER
  • Must be a US / Canada mailing Address
  • Ends Wednesday February 9, 2011
  • Winners will be chosen using
  • Winners will have 24 hours after my initial contact to write back their mailing address, otherwise alternate winners will be picked

Zohar — Man of la Book
Dis­claimer:I got for free as part of the TLC Book Tour promotion.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books

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


  • LoriFebruary 2, 2011 at 9:36 am

    Interesting! My husband and I were just having a discussion with our six year old about were you can get answers to questions. I said Google and he said the Library! She is now excited to go get her library card and ask the reference department a question.

    • zoharFebruary 2, 2011 at 9:48 am

      You were both right. The problem with Google is that you get 100,000 links to your answer, LOL

  • LeslieFebruary 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

    I always find it interesting when People step out of the ordinary to write, this is an interesting concept, but I am not sure if I would have the patience to read it.
    Great review, very open and honest.

  • LifetimeReaderFebruary 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Sounds like a fascinating book to write! Thanks for the review and giveaway.

  • ChelleFebruary 2, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    I enjoyed the chapter Gotham City on NYC’s public library a lot. I’ve never been and now it’s on my top ten list of must see sites. I liked how this book combats the quiet bun-lady librarian stereotype. At times I wished it had gone deeper into its themes but overall is a great homage to libraries and librarians. I’ve checkout out Second Life since reading this book and and it was a little strange. lol. Some librarians do use it though.

  • StephTheBookwormFebruary 2, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Ooooh! This has been on my wishlist forever because I’m studying to be a librarian and currently work at the library! YAYY!

    • zoharFebruary 2, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Good luck on your studies – read this book ASAP.

  • SeeKReadFebruary 2, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    This book sounds very interesting. We have been discussing how technology is going to replace hard copy books, and maybe even writing its self on a parenting message board I am on.

    Have you read this article?

    • zoharFebruary 2, 2011 at 9:50 pm

      Great article. As someone who mastered Google searches for work I agree with some of the points. When there is so much information at your fingertips you have to know how to search and filter rather then useless memorization.

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