Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Librarianship in a Wired World

This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
by Marilyn Johnson
Harper Collins, 2010.

This review refers to an uncorrected proof borrowed from a co-worker.

So many people subscribe to the notion that libraries are falling by the wayside. Who needs books, they argue, when just about anything can be found on the Internet now? Marilyn Johnson explores ways in which libraries are not only continuing to be relevant in a wired world, but using technology to promote and extend library services. Just a handful of the topics covered include blogging, Second Life, and archives.  What ties these all together is where librarianship and technology meet - and make great services for their patrons at that crossroad.

I expected this to be a book for librarians, written by a librarian, but that first impression had to be revised in numerous ways.  Marilyn Johnson is not a librarian, but got the idea for this book when she was writing about obituaries and some of the more interesting ones she came across were the obits of librarians.  Furthermore, the book is broad in scope, and reads more like a series of vignettes than an in-depth look at any one issue.  My only real disappointment was that she spends a lot of time talking about the New York City libraries, and personally I am more interested in and find more relevant how small-town libraries with smaller budgets and fewer connections would serve their public.  Many librarians have probably heard of most of the technologies, issues, and ideas that she covers.  Does that mean that librarians won't like the book?  No, but I would more readily recommend this book as perhaps being more helpful for folks who are thinking of going for a master's in library science - in fact, I learned about much of these topics in my M.L.I.S. program - and it's a great introduction for them to see the breadth of what librarians do, including the sometimes crazy balancing act between research, archives, traditional services and shinier things like blogging, Second Life, and circulation numbers.  Alternatively, I would suggest it to those folks who think librarians are still in the shushing business to open their eyes to all that librarians can do, even in a wired world.


Marie said...

I like the suggestion of using this book with MLS students or those interested in pursuing the field. I thought it was a great book and enjoyed your review, too.

Mary said...

Thanks, Marie! I could see the breadth of subjects covered being a good intro to someone thinking about it and wondering more about what the responsibilities may entail. Also, it definitely brushes away the thought of "All you do is sit around and read all day, right?"