Tag Archives: Crystal Lake Public Library

Celebrate Your Freedom To Read

This week is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a week each autumn where the ALA highlights the First Amendment, focuses on issues surrounding censorship of information, and celebrates our freedom to read.

It’s one of the best weeks of the year.

But this is the first year in a decade that I haven’t been in the classroom during Banned Books Week, and it’s weirding me out. I put BBW on my syllabus each Fall semester, and I design an activity for my students that is meant to inform and engage them. These are some of the flyers they created last year during an in-class group activity:

stop-banning-books

Click link below to see full flyer

banned-books2

fight-against-censorship

Click link below to see full flyer

fightagainstcensorship

books-are-not-scary

Click link below to see full flyer

book-banned-revision

And there are always some excellent activities at my college to celebrate BBW: panel discussions, lectures, and one year there was a mock demonstration where we marched around outside of the library with placards to “protest” censorship. Our librarians put together resources for faculty and students to bring awareness and celebrate reading, and they always do a terrific job.

The librarians made me a robot and asked me to compare Sherman (my reading robot) to the ALA's reading robot campaign.

A few years ago the librarians made me a robot and asked me to compare Sherman (my reading robot) to the ALA’s reading robot campaign.

And the freedom to read is a personal issue for me; and it’s not just because I’m an educator and a bibliophile. In 2008, just after I got hired on at MCC in a full-time, tenure track position, a student of mine objected so vehemently to a book I’d used in class that she, her mother, and their pastor tried to get the book banned. Not only did they want me to stop teaching it, but they also wanted the administrators to stop the book from ever being taught again at our college. They wanted to ban it from our classrooms and our library.

I found this shocking, and I was worried my administration might think I was too much of a trouble maker and renege their job offer. But that didn’t happen. Instead, my fantastic deans and the VP of academic and student affairs supported me at every turn, swatted the pastor away like the gadfly he was, and, of course, didn’t even consider banning the book.

The book they tried, unsuccessfully, to ban.

The book they tried, unsuccessfully, to ban.

This event opened my eyes to the uncomfortable truth that people still try to ban books. This is not a theoretical problem; this is not an old-fashioned problem. This is a problem, now. So we as educators, librarians, and champions of democracy must fight — with great big swings of our book-holding fists — every effort to stifle our freedom of expression in speech or in the press.

books-are-sacred-2

I got this tattoo after my personal book-banning incident. Is it saying something that this was the most painful one I’ve ever gotten?

This week I had to celebrate Banned Books Week in my own personal way, and of course I enlisted the help of my local public library.

bbw-display-clpl

I was so excited to see this that I took a terrible, blurry picture.

They’d wrapped up books in black paper to hide the titles and authors’ names, and then pasted the “reasons” given to challenge and/or ban that particular book. I looked over the selection and choose this one:

secret-banned-book

In my Adolescence and the Schools class this semester, we read an article about the ineffectiveness and problems of Abstinence Only Until Marriage sex education, so when I saw “sex education” on this book, my interest was piqued.

I brought my secret book home, unwrapped it, and was delighted when I saw that I’d gotten a book I haven’t read:

sherman-alexie

Although, really, I was just delighted that I got to unwrap a library book like it was a present. No, scratch that: the library book was a present.

And now I’m wearing one of my Banned Books Week t-shirts (yes, I have more than one), and I’m going to read my Sherman Alexie book this weekend and love all of the gambling and violence and offensive language that are within its pages.

So, my job for you all is to go out to your local library and get a book — any book! — and celebrate your freedom to read!

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Five Exciting Things That Happened Over Spring Break

Tomorrow I go back to school after having a week off of classes for spring break (#springbreak2016whoohoo!). Trevor has been busy at the studio, and we weren’t able to plan any kind of a getaway, so instead, I just hung around Camp Crystal Lake with Roo and did a whole lot of nothing.

But there were a few interesting, nay, exciting things that happened. I decided that I would recount them here for you so you could get a real taste of what a fast-paced life I lead.

Number Five: The Library Stole My Heart!

Three weeks ago I picked up Stephen King’s latest collection of short fiction, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, at my local book joint, the Crystal Lake Public Library. The book was marked as a “Hot Pick,” which meant that it could only be checked out on a seven-day loan, and it couldn’t be renewed. It’s a good-sized book, coming in at just under five hundred pages, so I was disappointed when I had to return it having only read half. But moments after I dropped my copy into the “Returns” book slot, I wandered to fiction and saw that there was another copy of the same book on the Hot Picks shelf; so obviously I grabbed it. Excellent loophole, CLPL!

But this second copy was, alas, due last Saturday, and I still wasn’t finished. I had about a hundred pages left to read, but I thought, hey, that’s okay, it’s short stories and will be easy to pick up whenever I see it again. So I returned it, and figured that sometime after the semester’s end, I’d pick it back up.

But then — but then — on Monday, my first day of spring break, I went to the library to check out some movies for my week-long couch potatoing, and the book was back on the shelf. Score! But wait! I grabbed the book and was waiting to check it out when I flipped it open and saw that my book mark was right where I had left it! KWHAAAAAT???!!!!!

THAT’S MY BOOK MARK! RIGHT WHERE I LEFT IT!

Yes, that’s right! Whatever wonderful human at the circulation desk checked my book back in did not remove my book mark. What a great way to start a spring break, right?! I finished the book that day and returned it, so hopefully some other lucky soul is enjoying it right now.

Number Four: Knives Are Sharp!

Thursday night I was fixing dinner (stove-top lasagne) and was having a pleasant time, just chopping up my vegetables, listening to my latest audiobook (Charlotte Brontë‘s Villette [good, good]). I was about to start sauteing (pot on the stove, olive oil heating up) but I needed to open my packet of Tofurky Italian sausage; so I got my big fat knife and plunged it in, and caught a nice chunk of my middle finger. I almost passed out (I’m weak in the stomach for all blood that is not made of corn syrup and red dye 40) and had to put dinner on hold until Trevor got home from work. And now I have this damn stupid gross cut on my finger and I’ve had to wear a rubber glove to take a shower and I don’t think my left hand has been really clean for a couple of days (there’s still blood underneath my fingernail [yeah, I know: gross]). I decided I would not include a picture of this. You’re welcome.

That should teach me to never eat Tofurky again.

Number Three: The Birds!

This jerk bird tried to break into the house:

Birdgular

Hellooooooo.

For days I’d been hearing something flying into the window, but I always looked at the top, where birds sometimes hang out under the eaves. But I was in the kitchen filling up my coffee mug on Friday morning and this guy flew into the bottom of the window, just beak-firsted right in there. I figure he was either trying to perch on the sill (he could hold this pose for about one single second) or he was legit trying to break into the house and steal my stuff — probably all of the dryer lint, thread, and newspaper he could get his little orange beak on.

He did it a few more times and then took off somewhere else. I think he and his family will build their little cardinal home in one of our bushes, like they did last year. Maybe he was trying for a warmer kind of place inside the house rather than out, but I am not having it. It’s a slippery slope to a whole lot of horror.

Number Two: New Publication!

On Friday, the amazing website Bitch Flicks published an article I wrote for their Women Directors theme week. It’s the third one they’ve published of mine, and I love writing things for them; it’s a great excuse to do “research” and watch a bunch of great movies and t.v.

Women Directors Screen Shot

This should probably be number one on my list of exciting things, but since I wrote and submitted the article before spring break, I didn’t want to give it the prime spot.

Number One: Signage!

Trevor got me a Camp Crystal Lake sign for the house!

THIS IS GOING TO BE HANGING ON OUR HOUSE VERY SOON!

THIS IS GOING TO BE HANGING ON OUR HOUSE VERY SOON!

For those who don’t know how exciting this is, let me tell you: this is very exciting.

Because we live on a lake and a lot of the houses were originally vacation cabins, many have lake house “names.” Some people give their house a straight forward name (“The Fort” is one of our neighbors), and some people make up puns based on their last names. People get really into this and hang signs — some simple, some elaborate.

And of course as soon as we moved here, we knew we had to get a sign for Camp Crystal Lake. Because we live on CAMP CRYSTAL LAKE HOLY CRAP! (if you don’t know why this is so exciting, please read this and know that I have very strong feelings about these movies [all of which I own and maybe I will loan them to you one at a time]).

And now we have a sign! Trevor’s going to treat it to make sure it won’t warp or crack in the weather, and then we’ll bolt it to the garage for everyone to see. I am so happy.

 

And that’s it! Of course, there are some other things that happened this week, and some things that I learned, but these didn’t make the list because they weren’t that interesting. Things such as, there is a limit to how much grading one human being can do in a week; it’s a good idea to leave the house at least once per day, just to make sure you haven’t napped through the zombie apocalypse; ice cream is delicious; and showers are great but don’t have to be taken every day.

And now, I will leave you to finish my lesson plan for my morning class and remember that I have a closet full of clothes that are not the same t-shirt and jeans I have been wearing for eight days (not literally the same: variations on a theme [well, maybe the jeans are the same]).

Have a good week!