Get This Man a Copy of THIS BOOK IS OVERDUE!

From the Boston Globe today:

I worry that libraries, even the newest ones, risk becoming fortresses buttressed by books, protecting Gutenberg’s technology for reasons of principle rather than pragmatism. Librarians need to educate themselves, and us, about the possibilities and limitations of digital books.

Columnist Alex Beam goes on to acknowledge that libraries are not totally clueless about the digital revolution. After all, the Boston Public Library, “can hook you up to a website called Overdrive” to download books.

Beam feels that “every large library in the state – heck, in the country – should buy 10 electronic book readers and allow patrons to check them out for two weeks, just like real books.” His not-so- “secret agenda” is to let people test drive them. He thinks they will discover that “to know and use e-books is not necessarily to love them.”

Never mind that lots of libraries are already lending reading devices or that there was a flurry of protest in the Boston Globe itself when the newspaper reported that Cushing Academy in Massachusetts had ditched its entire library for electronic books.

Oddly, after urging libraries to educate themselves about eBooks, Beam concludes, “The revolution may be digitized, but not anytime soon. Support your local library and their dowdy – but essential – collection of dead-tree lit.”

As good as it is to see someone urge library support, it would better if he understood more about what libraries are already doing and the challenges they face (and, we admit, it can be complicated — we’re tempted to quote George Clooney in Up in the Air, “Now this is going to be a little difficult, so stay with me.”)

We invite Mr. Beam to learn more about libraries in the digital world; an excellent beginning is Marilyn Johnson’s This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All (Virginia Stanley at HarperCollins Library Marketing is sending him a galley, but meanwhile, he can read the first chapter online).

Mr. Beam also has the opportunity hear author Marilyn Johnson speak at ALA MidWinter, held conveniently in his hometown next month:

Mon., Jan. 18, 2–4 p.m.

ALTAFF Gala Author Tea (tickets are $35; buy them when registering for the conference. If you have already registered, you can call (800) 974-3084 to add tickets):

  • Marilyn Johnson, This Book Is Overdue! How Libraries and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
  • Holly LeCraw, The Swimming Pool
  • Janice Y.K. Lee, The Piano Teacher
  • Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn
  • Teri Woods, Dutch II: Angel’s Revenge


This Book Is Overdue!: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
Marilyn Johnson
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper – (2010-02-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0061431605 / 9780061431609

Comments are closed.