“This book is overdue,” I observed as I handed the book to the librarian in order to check it out. It had been on the Hold shelf, as I had requested it earlier, so it still had the request slip sticking out clearly.
She glanced at it. “But it can’t be. You haven’t checked it out yet.”
“That’s the title!”
If I had wanted to play philosopher, I would have pointed out that I was mentioning the phrase, not using it.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to have had this kind of experience with This Book is Overdue. After you’ve recovered from the cute (too cute?) title, you realize that it actually has two meanings: the obvious library-oriented one, and the less obvious one meaning that the book should have been published some years ago, so now it is “overdue.” As often happens, the subtitle explains and amplifies the title: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All. Dramatic, no? How can anything about librarians be dramatic? Well, see my review of BiblioTech; in some ways This Book is Overdue is a companion piece, though not intended as such (actually, it predates BiblioTech, which was in small part inspired by it).
The author, Marilyn Johnson, is clearly a librarian…except that she isn’t. She’s a journalist — the sort of journalist who gets into her subject so deeply that it seems as if she’s been there all along. Apparently she specializes in obituaries, archaeology, and libraries — and no snide remarks about dead subjects or living in the past, please. In fact, if you have the impression that librarians are conservative and stodgy, read This Book is Overdue! You will quickly change your mind.
Johnson’s view of libraries especially resonated with me because it was such a good fit with recent developments and upcoming visions for the Weston High School library. Publishers Weekly referred to This Book is Overdue as “a topical, witty study of the vital ways modern librarians uphold their traditional roles as educators, archivists, and curators of a community legacy.” Yes indeed. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Read the book!