Monday, January 25, 2010

Twelve: This Book is Overdue - Marilyn Johnson

Show me a computer expert who gives a damn, and I"ll show you a librarian - Patricia Wilson Berger, former ALA president

Marilyn Johnson became fascinated with librarians while researching her first book about obituaries. She learned about Frederick Kilgour creator of OCLC & WorldCat, Judith Krug who ran the Office for Intellectual Freedom and started Banned Books Week and Henriette Avrain who automated library records at the Library of Congress and created the structure of MARC records.

Marilyn takes the reader through many different adventures - from a catalog migration at the Westchester Public Libraries, to the interworkings of the NYPL, to a review of the library blogs to how four librarians stood up for their patrons against the Patriot Act.

As a librarian, it was interesting to see how an "outsider" viewed my profession and others within that profession. As a writer and lover of books, she fit a profile that uses and appreciates her local librarians. I started this book on the plane ride back from a library conference I attended in Boston. It was cool to read about some modern day librarians that I had just met or read about.

I'll leave you with a few quotes from the book that caught my eye.

This is the greatest and most fraught romance of modern society, the marriage between the IT staff and those who depend on them.
Imagine activists around the world, wired to each other and to the world's information resources, each capable of measuring the impact of drought or tracking the efficacy of a prenatal clinic.
As a rule, librarians cultivate a professionalism that projects sexual neutrality, which permits them to guard their trove of both innocent and risque books from a position of high-minded principle and also helps keep the stalkers at bay.

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