Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why Libraries Kick Ass

Have I told you about my history in the library? Well, if not, here it is. In the fourth grade, my mom caught me organizing books on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and told me I needed to be a librarian. In high school, I worked in the public library as a Page and found it to be the best job ever (still is). I had so much fun, I was even determined to make a documentary called "The Secret Lives of Librarians" because my coworkers were so fun and interesting and so not your stereotypical librarian.

Now I have a big-girl job and I work in publishing, and I love it (except for the sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day thing—my eyes, my eyes!). But I also just started Graduate school to earn my M.L.S. Yes, that means I will be a MASTER of Library Science. I hope to one day have a business card with the title "Super Librarian" or "Librarian Extraordinaire" or something to that effect.

Anyway, I read a brief blurb about this book in the NYTimes Book Review last week and...I NEED IT! I've put it on hold to pick up at a semi-local branch of the Brooklyn Public Library that is actually open on weekends (because no, MY local branch is neither open on the weekends nor past 6pm on weeknights...SOOOO easily accessible, thanks NYC). Greenpoint, here I come!

I have a strong belief that the public library as an institution will never disappear. Technology will change, methods of finding and using information will change, but the library can and will adapt as it has in the past. Libraries aren't just places to find books; they are information centers—community centers—constantly changing depending on how society searches for, finds, and uses information. Libraries are necessary to serve a need within a community, support underserved or overlooked populations, provide its users with the easiest and most useful access to the information requested. As much as I want to support publishers by buying their books, I think I'm a bigger proponent of the public library. Libraries inspire, and I don't think they will ever be irrelevant.

Book blurb:
Buried in info? Cross-eyed over technology? From the bottom of a pile of paper and discs, books, e-books, and scattered thumb drives comes a cry of hope: Make way for the librarians! They want to help. They're not selling a thing. And librarians know best how to beat a path through the googolplex sources of information available to us, writes Marilyn Johnson, whose previous book, The Dead Beat, breathed merry life into the obituary-writing profession.

This Book Is Overdue! is a romp through the ranks of information professionals and a revelation for readers burned out on the clichÉs and stereotyping of librarians. Blunt and obscenely funny bloggers spill their stories in these pages, as do a tattooed, hard-partying children's librarian; a fresh-scrubbed Catholic couple who teach missionaries to use computers; a blue-haired radical who uses her smartphone to help guide street protestors; a plethora of voluptuous avatars and cybrarians; the quiet, law-abiding librarians gagged by the FBI; and a boxing archivist. These are just a few of the visionaries Johnson captures here, pragmatic idealists who fuse the tools of the digital age with their love for the written word and the enduring values of free speech, open access, and scout-badge-quality assistance to anyone in need.

Those who predicted the death of libraries forgot to consider that in the automated maze of contemporary life, none of us—neither the experts nor the hopelessly baffled—can get along without human help. And not just any help—we need librarians, who won't charge us by the question or roll their eyes, no matter what we ask. Who are they? What do they know? And how quickly can they save us from being buried by the digital age?

1 comment:

softdrink said...

I loved this made me want to be a librarian...which is totally unrealistic, but a girl can dream.