Book Review: Overdue

While it may seem cliché for a librarian to review a book about public libraries, humor me just this once! Public libraries today are experiencing scrutiny, criticism, and social challenges that most librarians have never before witnessed. Amanda Oliver IS this librarian, serving the community surrounding Northwest One, a branch of the DC Public Library system. Those of us who serve in libraries often find this career because of a love of reading, because we recognize the importance of literacy and access to information, and because we truly want to contribute to the quality of life within our communities. Libraries are inclusive, open spaces where everyone is welcome regardless of age, race, gender, or income, and librarians across the country show up to work every day to honor this commitment to their patrons.

What they also provide is support, on a near daily basis, to people experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, drug/alcohol addictions and mental health struggles. This side of library service is something Oliver believes needs more attention. Libraries and librarians may have not intended to become trusted agents of social services, but it’s exactly what has occurred over time. If you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look at public libraries and the unintentional roles they fill in meeting the most vulnerable members of society at one of the few places they feel welcome, Overdue is a must-read.

- Rachelle Kuzyk, MLS
Library Manager, Chandler Public Library