Monday, February 15, 2010

This Book is Overdue!

7. This Book is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, by Marilyn Johnson

I requested this book from the Amazon Vine program because I love libraries and librarians. I thought I'd be reading a real discussion about the place of the library in this cyber-age. But I didn't get that. In fact, it's hard to say what I did get.

The problem is stated clearly and succinctly by the author early on (though I doubt she realized that she was describing her book!), when she says, "This is a story . . . researched partly on a computer in mazes so extended and complex -- every link a trapdoor to another set of links -- that I never found a sturdy place to stop and grasp the whole."

Her failure to "grasp the whole" has resulted in a book that is little more than a collection of anecdotes. Johnson has no thesis, no point, to tie these stories together. She jumps from a lengthy discussion about libraries and librarians on Second Life (and it occurred to me that it's been ages since I've heard anyone even mention Second Life!) to the serious matter of government intrusion into library records to decisions about archiving author records. (She actually spends nearly six pages on library blog entries about feces. Really.) She is uncritical about technology, so entranced by its usefulness that she cannot see its drawbacks.

And the book is too much about Johnson, her interactions, what she did, what she thought.

I'm not saying, "Don't read this book." You may find some of the anecdotes amusing or interesting. Just don't expect any serious discussion or analysis of the problems facing libraries and librarians today.


  1. Interesting. What a shame that a book with such promising potential falls flat! Thanks for the heads-up.

  2. To be fair, it's gotten a lot of favorable reviews, so I may be an outlier on this one!