Overdue: Reckoning with the Public Library
by Amanda Oliver
“One part love letter, one part eulogy, Overdue tells the story of America’s public library system . . . Amanda Oliver proves herself a vibrant new literary voice . . . This is a book for all book lovers.” —Reza Aslan, author of Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth
Who are libraries for, how have they evolved, and why do they fill so many roles in our society today?
Based on firsthand experiences from six years of professional work as a librarian in high-poverty neighborhoods of Washington, DC, as well as interviews and research, Overdue begins with Oliver’s first day at an “unusual” branch: Northwest One.
Using her experience at this branch allows Oliver to highlight the national problems that have existed in libraries since they were founded: racism, segregation, and class inequalities. These age-old problems have evolved into police violence, the opioid epidemic, rampant houselessness, and lack of mental health care nationwide—all of which come to a head in public library spaces.
Can public librarians continue to play the many roles they are tasked with? Can American society sustain one of its most noble institutions?
Pushing against hundreds of years of stereotypes, romanticization, and discomfort with a call to reckoning, Overdue will change the way you think about libraries forever.
Hardcover | 224 pages | Chicago Review Press; 1st edition | 2022