The book will not be overdue, as you will read it in a few days.
May 18, 2010 12:14 PM   Subscribe

This Book is Overdue (link to a PDF of the first chapter from the author’s site: here) is a non-fiction work published in February of 2010. It’s a study of the modern library, and by extension, the modern librarian. Primarily the place that each of these things has in a world that is increasingly moving to a world of digital information. The book is divided into a few different sections...

  1. Information sickness; a review of the role of the librarian as information expert in a world that is overflowing with the stuff
  2. On the Ground; The relationship between Library Circ. and Ref. staff to their IT departments, focusing on one Branch’s rocky migration from locally hosted information to cloud storage.
  3. The Blog People; How librarians have moved from discussing their trade at conventions and the staff room, to a more open (for better and for worse) discussion on a large network of library dedicated blogs: a few examples here, including a reference to our own Jessamyn (specifically the video she made here:
  4. Big Brother and the Holdout Company; Detailing the heroic efforts of a few librarians in the face of the U.S. Patriot Act’s murky security letters.
  5. How to Change the World; Describes a program that trains professionals in developing countries in social and information technologies, emphasizing social justice and information access.
  6. To the Ramparts!; Details the efforts of street librarians during the 2008 Republican National Convention, as well as the efforts to archive and circulate zines (here(PDF warning))
  7. Follow that Tattooed Librarian; On the idea of the 'sexy librarian'(YT), and the new face of the 'hipster' librarian.
  8. Wizards of Odd; A chapter dedicated to the burgeoning world of Second Life librarianship (yes, really!).
  9. Gotham City; The story of how the NYPL has changed its focus from research to creative public service, within the lens of the recent economic collapse.
  10. What’s Worth Saving; which explores how we never really know what’s worth archiving until someone needs the material , as well as the problematic nature of saving digital communications.

This Book is Overdue isn’t without its faults (sometimes leaving off when things seem to be getting interesting, being my main complaint), but it’s certainly a terrific overview of libraries today. If you’d like to read an interview with the author, there’s
one here:

I'm not affiliated with the author, or the publishing house in any way (although I do work at a library, so I'm affiliated with the subject matter). I've just recently

read the book, and thought that it had a lot to discuss.
posted by codacorolla (22 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

posted by Space Coyote at 2:08 PM on May 18, 2010

It's a clever title, I'll give it that.
posted by empath at 2:15 PM on May 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

So, so disappointed by that 'sexy librarian' link, btw.
posted by empath at 2:16 PM on May 18, 2010

Space Coyote: I'm wary of any hype surrounding SecondLife and was at first skeptical of its appearance in this title, but the book does go into further detail surrounding why libraries in SecondLife have become prevalent (she also mentions it in the interview at the end). A lot of the worlds that people create in SecondLife are based in some other time period, and the collected reference that a SL library provides help modelers get accurate representation of the stuff that they're trying to recreate.
posted by codacorolla at 2:19 PM on May 18, 2010

That NYPL (Full disclosure: Past employer.) Ghostbusters spoof is unbelievably lame if I'd been on the ref. desk first joker in the ghost costume would've gotten drop kicked.
posted by Skygazer at 2:37 PM on May 18, 2010

Information sickness is an interesting concept I want to read more about.
posted by Skygazer at 2:39 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is "sexy librarian" really any more commonplace than "sexy nurse," "sexy teacher," sexy secretary," "sexy mom," or any other traditionally-female profession?

Not that that makes it any less obnoxious for librarians. It just seems like more of a feminist issue than strictly a librarian issue.
posted by straight at 2:45 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is "sexy librarian" really any more commonplace

This is purely anecdotal, but for what it's worth, I'm a librarian, and I'm dead sexy.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:43 PM on May 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

Great linkage, codacarolla.

I didn't particularly dig the book, but the author did follow around/mention two terrific librarians (that I know of) in it -- jessamyn and JJ Jacobson, otherwise known as JJ Drinkwater (in her Second Life incarnation).
posted by blucevalo at 5:21 PM on May 18, 2010

NYT calls the "hipster" librarians "A New Breed of Shushers". I suspect the last time a librarian "shushed" anyone was about 1972. Most public libraries are the noisiest place in town outside of Chuck E. Cheese. As for "What's Worth Saving?", I'll tell what's worth saving: books. The rest of the information universe can take care of itself. But books are vulnerable to the submerged hatred of the average, the illiterate, and the fearful. Many of the most fervent book-haters are, I suspect, librarians themselves, who would rather sit on their butts pecking away at a keyboard, than have to lift and shelve actual physical objects, or concern themselves with their preservation. Libraries exist to serve books, not patrons.
posted by Faze at 5:32 PM on May 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Is "sexy librarian" really any more commonplace than "sexy nurse," "sexy teacher," sexy secretary," "sexy mom," or any other traditionally-female profession?

They're far less common

posted by Space Coyote at 6:58 PM on May 18, 2010

I have wondered about the viability of state libraries expanding into e-books. Log in to the library site with your library ID, like you do for account management these days, and download timelocked e-books to your Kindle or Android or whatever. One of the vanishingly rare cases where (very limited) DRM might actually be appropriate.
posted by kafziel at 7:52 PM on May 18, 2010

Truly a great read. Libraries are changing, librarians with it, and the book is a good introduction to some of the roles people in the field are taking on.
posted by Homeskillet Freshy Fresh at 11:22 PM on May 18, 2010

Kafziel: they've been doing that for a while, see NYPL for one example.

Space Coyote: people still say 'cybrarian'? I used to think that was really clever. About 10 years ago. Now, not so much.
posted by Infinite Jest at 1:35 AM on May 19, 2010

Is "sexy librarian" really any more commonplace than "sexy nurse," "sexy teacher," sexy secretary," "sexy mom," or any other traditionally-female profession?

Maybe not, but stereotypes about nurses, teachers, secretaries, etc aren't as relevant to a book about libraries.
posted by harriet vane at 4:57 AM on May 19, 2010

The author recently spoke at a meeting of my local law librarian association, she is a very engaging speaker and was super, super nice (I haven't read the book yet but it's on The List of things I should read someday). Also, everything I read about radical reference impresses me so much, one of these days I'll make time to explore the possibility of volunteering... those librarians are awesome.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 5:56 AM on May 19, 2010

I really liked that book but yes, it did seem to drop off in sections just as things were getting interesting. The story behind the Patriot Act-defyin' librarians was fantastic, I had no idea things had gotten that bad (or that ridiculous).

The part about the NYPL shutting down sections almost made me cry. Reminds me of how some amazing parts of our own library are being neglected in favor of buying a zillion copies of Twilight, or whatever.
posted by at 7:09 AM on May 19, 2010

Thanks for the link to my Marilyn Johnson interview. But I should point out that the text only represents a partial excerpt of a wide-ranging forty minute interview that you can listen to by either clicking on the Bat or by way of the many listening/downloading options at the tail of the capsule.
posted by ed at 7:49 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I remember when videotape was going to replace the public library. Betamax video tape. Public access cable TV was going to replace us, too.

Sorry, I don't buy the Library 2.0 schtick. Yeah, libraries change, but not as much as many folks, especially academics who couldn't charge out a book to a patron or tell someone where the puppy training books are if they had a 50 page pdf on their iphones telling them how to do it, with sound and pictures, think.
posted by QIbHom at 8:59 AM on May 19, 2010

Libraries exist to serve books, not patrons.

Good luck getting into library school using this as the thesis for your personal statement.
posted by clavicle at 10:12 AM on May 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Libraries exist to serve books, not patrons.

Many of the most fervent book-haters are, I suspect, librarians themselves

Stanford University prepares for "bookless library"

Tell me again how libraries exist to serve books.

And how the librarians interviewed for this article (and most other librarians, I would be willing to wager) cavalierly snort as they toss books in the garbage -- rather than what it is that they actually do, which is agonize long and hard over every single decision that involves a book.
posted by blucevalo at 2:07 PM on May 19, 2010

636.7. I have to explain to students why dog books are shelved in this Dewey class and not with wild animals. 600 is technology and the domestication of animals is a technology, perhaps one of the oldest.

A bookless academic library would be cool in the sciences (where it is already mostly true; a scientific book is probably out of date even before it's published) and a horror in literary or historical studies.
posted by bad grammar at 5:14 PM on May 19, 2010

« Older Serein v4   |   Vancouver, Vancouver, this is it! Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments