Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Good Faith

Cindy's most recent blog drew a reaction from our readers at safelibraries.org. Safelibraries' response set me thinking, as usual. Their comment linked to an article form the Washington Times (a newspaper founded by cult leader Rev. Sung Myung Moon, of "Moonies" fame, but let's leave that for another blog.) In the op-ed piece linked from their comment, writer Thomas Sowell rants about "Banned Book Week" being another skirmish in the culture war, arguing that we librarians, especially school librarians, are either sinister mind washers or idiotic dupes of liberal overlords. Ummmmm....I don't know where this culture war is going on, but it isn't in this library. I am a conservative's worst nightmare, a gay, lefty, government employee. However, our director is a centrist married to a life-long proud Republican. Our Board of Trusties is entirely made up of members appointed by our Republican mayor finishing up his fourth term in office next year. (If you doubt my opinion of Mayor Green, read this blog.) Under these circumstances, how am I to wield the unchecked power to further my "ideological crusade?" This arrangement works well because everyone believes that we are all operating in good faith to advance the needs of the people of Kankakee. Don't you think our patrons prefer that over war?

Stephen Bertrand
Assistant Director

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Free People Read Freely

"Free People Read Freely" is the theme of this year's Banned Books Week (September 29 - October 6, 2007). Librarians tend to fall into two categories when it comes to celebrating banned books. The Activists: those outspoken soles who aggressively defend our freedom to read anything and everything. And The Avoiders: those who would rather not draw attention to the banned books sitting on the shelves of the library. Chances are that you have read a couple of Banned Books in your lifetime. According to the American Library Association, these are "Ten Most Challenged Books of 2006."
* "And Tango Makes Three" by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;
* "Gossip Girls" series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;
* "Alice" series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;
* "The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
* "The Bluest Eye" by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
* "Scary Stories" series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;
* "Athletic Shorts" by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language.
* "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group
* "Beloved" by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;
* "The Chocolate War" by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.
Off the list this year, but on for several years past, are the "Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger, "Of Mice and Men" by John Steinbeck and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain.
The best way to celebrate Banned Books Week is to just read. Go ahead; make my day, read irresponsibly.

Cindy Fuerst
Library Director