This Book Is Overdue by Marilyn Johnson
Photo: Ben Goldstein/Studio D
This Book Is Overdue!
By Marilyn Johnson
288 pages; Harper


They come from behind the bookshelf. They whip off their granny glasses and vault into cyberspace, where particles of random information collide and multiply. As Marilyn Johnson ( The Dead Beat ) happily demonstrates in This Book Is Overdue! , today's librarians make it their mission to rescue us from chaos, managing the information overload that saps our souls. Johnson takes us from thriving physical libraries—like the rarefied but still warm-and-fuzzy collection of the American Kennel Club—to the ever-expanding cyberarchives of Second Life, staffed by colorful librarian avatars. She tells how during the 2008 Republican National Convention, young "radical reference" librarians hit the streets, iPhones fully loaded with information on everything from emergency legal services to public toilets. She visits blogs like Free Range Librarian and Info Babe. And she celebrates the "civil servants and servants of civility" who risk prosecution by refusing to let government officials invade our privacy by commandeering library records, and whose sly rebellion shows up in posters that read "the fbi has not been here (watch very closely for the removal of this sign)." This is a book for readers who know that words can be wild and dangerous, that uncensored access to information is a right and a privilege, and that the attempt to "catalog the world in all its complexity" is heroic beyond compare.