So I know it's super-cheap to have you come to Citizen Reader and have me just send you elsewhere, but today my review of Marilyn Johnson's This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All is up over at the Reader's Advisor Online, and so help me, I just don't have the strength to review it here as well.
I give Ms. Johnson points for having her heart in the right place, and I think she's a skillful enough writer (I loved her earlier book The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries), but evidently I still have some unresolved issues about librarianship that are clouding my judgement about this title. I can let you in on a little tidbit I did not share over at RAO: after reading the first few chapters, I said to Mr. CR, "God, reading this book is so boring and frustrating it's just like I'm back to BEING a librarian."
Bless him, Mr. CR knew just what I meant. Now, being a librarian was never really boring. But it could be very, very frustrating. I salute this author for her positive take on the subject, really I do, and I also salute her for talking with lots of librarians and really getting a pretty good handle on the field. But some of it was so "rah-rah!" I just couldn't take it. Sure, there'll be some friction between library staff and tech services, but they'll work through it! Sure, there's a librarian stereotype, but look at all these cool new librarians subverting it! Sure, it's kind of a drag that they're turning the 42nd street New York Public Library from a research facility to a let everyone in, check out DVDs to toddlers kind of library, but isn't it great they're throwing their doors open!
And I really had to laugh that she was surprised about poop in the library. If you aren't aware of the preponderance and variety of bodily fluids present in all libraries, well, then, you really haven't learned library culture.
In all? I think this is a book for big, positive thinkers, not small, negative thinkers like me. Small, negative thinkers who work in libraries and constantly ask questions about workflow issues, signs to help patrons rather than to "complement the library's color scheme," staff morale, and how best to train shelvers so books actually end up where they belong will not find much of interest here.