Outside In

September 15, 2010

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When she was researching her first book, The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiffs, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries (2006), Marilyn Johnson decided that “the most engaging obit subjects were librarians,” especially since so many of their obituaries contained some form of the sentence: “Under her watch, the library changed from a collection of books into an automated research center.” Such statements led to her second opus, This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All, which she describes as “a journey into increasingly activist and visionary forms of library work.” Among the librarians she encounters are front-liners, IT guys, bloggers, archivists, book-cart drill team members, and Second Lifers, not to mention the Connecticut Four, who challenged the USA Patriot Act—all of them (us) accomplishing the same core job to support the same core values. If you find yourself questioning the worth of your own job, read this book. Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us of the importance of what we do—and to help us question how and why we do it.

Indexed. 272p. $24.99 from HarperCollins (978-0-06-143160-9).