We had our Banned Books Readout here on campus. The event, sponsored by the library, is held annually as part of the events for Banned Books Week. For me, this was my first activity on campus as the new Outreach Librarian. Fortunately, I had the able assistance of our webmaster who has also been serving as Outreach Coordinator (I am gradually taking over the outreach role from her. However, it is more like we'll be working together, and that is a good thing).
The event went from 10:30a to 2:30p, and it took place in the nice open terrace we have facing the lake. We had readers representing various departments on campus. Readers chose their own selections for reading in 15 minute segments. The concept was for the reader to introduce the work and then read their selection.
Our equipment for the event included:
- Letter sign on sidewalk to advertise the event for people as they walked by.
- A nice sign on an easel next to the podium. The graphics were drawn by one of our
circulationperiodicals assistants (I am still learning who does what here).
- Most of the books that people chose were items checked out from the library. This is definitely something to encourage in the future if possible. However, any book is welcome.
- We had buttons to hand out that said "I read Banned Books." I think we should continue making them and providing them.
- We had flyers with the list of readers.
- Amy Timberlake and Adam Rex, The Dirty Cowboy.
- Robert Cormier, The Chocolate War.
- The Bible (selections from the Book of Genesis. I did not provide a link given there are so many editions.)
- Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird.
- Inga Muscio, Cunt: A Declaration of Independence.
- John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath.
- Joseph Heller, Catch-22.
- Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic.
- George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Michael Willhoite, Daddy's Roommate.
- Dee Alexander Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
- Dr. Seuss, The Butter Battle Book.
- Maurice Sendak, In the Night Kitchen.
- Confucius, The Analects.
- Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five.
- Robert Penn Warren, All The King's Men.
My director asked me to ponder what things we could improve for future readouts. Here are a some things I am pondering:
- The location. This is an object of debate already, and I am not sure I have the answer. I was told that when it was done in the library, that some students felt like they may be called upon to read, or they did not want to approach in fear they were interrupting something. I think with a little gentle encouragement and welcoming, that could be overcome. The outside location we used this time is nice. It is an open space; it is outdoors, and there is good traffic. However, there are restrictions on using a microphone there during certain hours. So, I have mixed feelings. At the moment, I would say for us to continue holding the event outside, weather permitting.
- We need to have some extra books handy. That way, if someone approaches wanting to read on the spot, we can hand him or her something. Since we did have a couple of breaks in the reading, allowing for such breaks to be open mike moments would be a good idea.
- We probably need additional publicity and promotion for the event. Getting more students to read would be nice. That is one of the things I will be working on throughout this year and in my time here: publicity for the library. There is a campus electronic bulletin board. We can use that. We have a list of people who participate, so calling on them is good, but getting others in addition would be great as well.
"We are not afraid to entrust the American people with unpleasant facts, foreign ideas, alien philosophies, and competitive values. For a nation that is afraid to let its people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market is a nation that is afraid of its people."