Forget Jack-o’-Lanterns and Candy Corn, October is National Book Month!

Nat Book Month

Robert Adrian Hillman /Photo © Shutterstock

Oh man. This is tailor-made for libraries. Well… it’s tailor-made for books anyway, which we are all about. And all we have to do to show our support is exactly what we always do!

Which is to say, provide people with access to tens of thousands of books and encourage and enable those same people to read those same books. It’s perfect!

What can you do to show your appreciation for the dominant means of storing, transporting and spreading knowledge and understanding on Earth for the last 1,700 years or so (before books it was all scrolls and wax and rocks)?

Take time out from planning your costume parties and hanging fake cobwebs and stop by the library. Check out that old favorite, or that new book you’ve been meaning to read, or, if all else fails, ask a librarian to suggest something for you (if you plan it ahead of time you can fill out a Library Concierge form and have a list of five personally tailored recommendations waiting for you). Welcome to October and happy reading.

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Post Censored Due to Unfit Content

It’s Banned Books Week!

Banned Books 17

What is Banned Books Week?

That’s an easy one. It’s an annual celebration of your right to read whatever you want.

And why is it important?

This answer is longer, but still pretty easy. I’ll keep it to three main points.

First off, in this country and at this time, it’s pointless. To begin shutting down or cutting out ideas, perspectives and lifestyles that a specific person, or group of people, doesn’t understand, identify with or approve of solves LITERALLY NOTHING. For anybody. Including those that are attempting to challenge or ban the material. Nothing makes a book shout, “Check out what I’m about!” louder than someone else shouting not to check out what it’s about. Plus, even if “they” hypothetically manage to ban a book from a library or school there are hundreds of other places that a determined reader can go to get it. Pointless.

Second, one persons obscene or unfit material is another persons broadened horizons. Reading about something does not make you automatically believe what you have read, but it does help you to be aware of and consider other perspectives. There is evidence that reading encourages and increases empathy. Empathy – generally listed as a positive human quality… by, like, everyone. The other big reason that a lot of books with violence or sex or bad language or “adult situations” and so on, are challenged, especially books for teens and younger readers, is to “protect the children!” But here’s the thing, when those topics are addressed in books for younger readers they are done so from the perspective of younger characters and talked about in a way that is accessible and appropriate to that age group, helping the reader come to terms with and learn about the fact that whatever it is exists in the real world. Ignoring it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and censoring it will just create kids who are blind-sided by it when they encounter it as they get older.

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Third, no one likes to think about human rights and civil liberties in “use ’em or lose ’em” terms, but… It’s a potentially slippery slope – 1 banned book can become ten banned books, can become one hundred, can become state approved reading list only. It’s a little dramatic, I know, but it has happened, and, historically speaking, cultures (or, call a spade a spade, regimes) that make a habit out of banning books are often just around the corner from burning and destroying them (and occasionally their readers). Also, not typically super-happy places to live. I’m just saying.

So, there you are. Banning books – pointless, counter-productive and oppressive.

Support your right to read what you want – READ A BANNED BOOK TODAY! 

If you need help finding one (there are lots) you can find lists here.

Library CLOSED for Labor Day!

We’re closed today in honor of all the days we (and all the other businesses, factories offices, etc., of this great nation) are not closed.

Labor Day

We’re celebrating American labor by gathering together all of our non-working dependents and retired relatives and providing them with sustenance in the form of an enormous and bountiful barbecue. There could be a metaphor or message in that somewhere, but I’m off today so I will look for it tomorrow. Who wants a burger?

The library will resume normal business hours starting tomorrow at 9am.

Happy BOOK LOVERS DAY!

Heart Books

Love books? Good.

Maybe we’re biased but we love people that love books. And today is your day!

Book Lovers Day is typically considered the day for people that love reading to celebrate their most cherished books, and that’s great, but let us not forget that it is called Book Lovers Day, not Book Day. So make sure to take a moment today to appreciate just how cool you are for loving books too.

And if you feel like showing that love by being surrounded by books, maybe even finding a few new ones that you didn’t even know you wanted to read, we’re open until 8pm. Feel free to stop by.

A Poet Who Knew It

Brooks2Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100

Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, “a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.” From poetryfoundation.org.

And now its time to celebrate the life of this remarkable poet, 100 years on.

100 libraries, museums, and cultural centers all over the state have agreed to celebrate the centennial.

A little over a week after the 100th anniversary of her birth, “Matter in the Margins: Gwendolyn Brooks at 100,” an exhibition at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, opens tomorrow, June 16, showcasing selections from Gwendolyn Brooks’s personal archives. Brooks was an inveterate note-taker and self-chronicler, and her archives are filled with Post-Its, hotel stationery, and other scraps of paper on which she recorded her daily life and current events. She sketched out future plans and recorded meaningful memories in the fly-leaves of notebooks and on the backs of photographs, and she interrogated others’ ideas and narratives in the margins of letters she received and books she read. Here, the poet worked out the process of becoming, raising important questions about completion, authority, self-fashioning, and memory.

For more information on the Gwendolyn Brooks and the centennial celebration you can visit the official “Celebrating Gwendolyn Brooks @ 100” site here.