Hanging with the Banned by Janene Hill, Young Adult Librarian

Psst… don’t tell – I read banned books.

You probably have too and may not even know it.
Harry Potter anyone? How about To Kill a Mockingbird, The Giver, or The Kite Runner. Alice Walker, Philip Pullman, Judy Blume, Chris Crutcher, Kurt Vonegut, R.L. Stine, Caroline Cooney… all have books on the list of 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books for the past decade.
This year, as I search for my annual “challenged title” to read for Banned Books Week (September 24-October 1), I have examined the most commonly challenged titles as compile through the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. To my surprise and delight, I found I have already read half the books on the list.
In 2010, the most commonly challenged titles included: And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Crank by Ellen Hopkins; The Hunger Games (series) by Suzanne Collins; Lush by Natasha Friend; What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; Revolutionary Voices edited by Amy Sonnie; Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer.
This week marks the 29th year the American Library Association (ALA) in cooperation with the American Booksellers Association and several national organizations sponsor Banned Books Week. The freedom to choose, the power of literature, and the importance of the First Amendment is the essential message of Banned Books Week, an annual celebration by libraries, librarians, and book lovers across the country.
According the Banned Books Week website: “The week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings (and challenges) of books across the United States.”
In 2010, 348 challenges were reported. In the majority of these cases, the books were not banned at their institutions due to the work of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books. The ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom does note that for each reported challenge, four or five more remain unreported.
A challenge is defined as “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”
Challenges fall into a number of categories as defined by the ALA. The top seven of these over the past decade have included:
sexually explicit material
offensive language
unsuited to age group
religious viewpoints
The majority of these challenges were in school classrooms and libraries (67%) while another 24% took place in public libraries.
Advocacy for Banned Books Week extends from the American Library Association’s support and push for Intellectual Freedom for all Americans. Expression and access is the basic premise to the American Library Association’s statement on Intellectual Freedom. A portion of the ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual states: “Intellectual freedom implies a circle, and that circle is broken if either freedom of expression or access to ideas is stifled.”
Libraries often adopt and use the ALA’s Library Bill of Rights to help guide them in serving their customers and ensure they serve everyone in their communities equally and fairly. The document reinforces a library user’s right to choose for themselves.
Banned Books Week is also a chance to recognize a reader’s right to defend or oppose what they read, listen to, or view. It is about recognizing the differences among tastes and opinions.
A more lighthearted approach to knowing your rights as a reader was provided by Daniel Pennac in his 1994 book Better than Life. He provided a policy called The Reader’s Bill of Rights, a list of ten items established to recognize the differences among readers and their habits.
He said readers have: 1) The right to not read. 2) The right to skip pages. 3) The right to not finish. 4) The right to reread. 5) The right to read anything. 6) The right to escapism. 7) The right to read anywhere. 8) The right to browse. 9) The right to read out loud. 10) The right to not defend your tastes.
If you are interested in learning more about banned and challenged books, the ALA provides a wealth of information through the “Issues and Advocacy” part of their website (www.ala.org). The library also has several materials that speak about the issues, including Banned Books by Robert P. Doyle and Protecting the Right to Read by Ann K. Symons and Charles Harmon.

Posted in: For Adults, For Kids, For Teens, Mercury Column

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A Fall of Literacy Fun at the Library

>Library column for the Manhattan Mercury, Sept. 4, 2011
by Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager

September 12 is the beginning of the fall storytime session in the Children’s Room, kicking off with Baby Rhyme Time on Monday at 11:00. Miss Victoria will teach parents fun bounces, songs and rhymes to do with their babies, from birth to 18 months old. Choral reader sets are excellent for this group because each parent-child pair gets a copy of the same board book to read together. The first week features Baby Danced the Polka, a silly rhyming story that includes “lift-the-flap” pages. Parents can plan to have some social time afterwards while babies continue playing with scarves, balls, blocks, instruments…or each other.

Move and Groove meets on Tuesday at 10:00, Wednesday at 11:00 and Thursday at 10:00. Each storytime will incorporate songs, dancing and actions along with entertaining read-alouds, so it is perfect for active three- to five-year-olds. The week of September 20, Miss Laura is reading construction books, including a preschool favorite — I’m Dirty! by Kate and Jim McMullan. Miss Laura says, “This story is covered with mud and muck with no apologies!” After the story, children will practice their construction abilities using foam blocks. “We will build a colorful tower and, of course, then we will knock it down!” Family storytimes on Saturday mornings at 11:00 will include many of the same books and activities as our weekly Move and Grooves, but tailored for an all-ages audience. Reading Round-Up on Wednesday afternoons will focus on longer storybooks with interactive games, a great choice for four and five-year-olds.

Miss Melendra and Miss Jessica will lead Toddler Times on Tuesday at 11:00, Wednesday at 10:00, and Thursday at 11:00. The third week of storytime will include bath stories like Bubble Bath Pirates by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. With its zany, expressive illustrations, the book is bursting with exuberance. Even the text, which changes in size and placement throughout the book, adds to the effect.

“This title is great for helping children notice that reading books is not just about the pictures, but also the words on each page. This skill, sometimes known as ‘Print Awareness’ or the ability to notice print all around, will eventually help your child learn to read. Plus, Bubble Bath Pirates has lots of silly pirate phrases you and your child will have fun repeating,” says Miss Melendra. The storytellers will be incorporating other tips like this into their Toddler Times. “We consider these ‘early literacy’ skills when we create our storytime programs, and we love to share ideas with parents so they can foster these skills at home, too.”

Older children will want to join Miss Ericka again this fall for fascinating after school clubs. The theme – “So You Want to Break a World Record?” – stems from the popularity of books like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not and Guinness Book of World Records books, as well as novels like Gary Paulsen’s Masters of Disaster. In this title, Paulsen, well-known for his books with boy appeal, introduces three twelve-year old boys on a mission, says Miss Ericka. “They want to do something amazing and make a name for themselves, but with Henry Mosley in the lead, this could spell disaster! With wacky escapades like trying to break a world record with a bike, a roof and a pool cover, or exploring unknown, potentially dangerous and strangely explosive life forms, you never know what the next page might reveal. This is an amusing, adventurous story of three very different friends banding together.”

Like the boys in this novel, kids who come to the library clubs this fall will be exploring wacky world records. Though ours might not be as extreme (or smelly) as Henry Mosley’s, kids are sure to have a blast with minute-to-win-it challenges, games, relays, humorous stories and tons of crazy records. Clubs for kids in K-2nd grade will meet Tuesdays on September 13, September 27 and October 11 at 4:15. Kids in 3rd-6th grade will meet Thursdays on September 22nd, October 6th and October 20th at 4:15.

The R.E.A.D. with Dogs program on the first and third Sunday afternoon each month is a relaxing and pleasant way to practice reading skills. Reading Education Assistance Dogs are trained therapy dogs who visit our storytime room from 2:00-4:00 and listen to kids read aloud to them. Each dog is accompanied by a dog handler, and children can sign up when they arrive for a 10-15 minute session. The dogs that join us range in size from golden retrievers to schipperkes.

Miss Jessica coordinates the programs and says if you want to read to a dog, Dog in Boots by Greg Gormley is a choice that all pups should enjoy. “Dog has just finished reading Puss In Boots, so he decides he needs boots, too, and heads to the local shoe shop. Unfortunately, fancy boots are not good for digging in the mud. He trades them in for rain boots, but they aren’t any good for swimming. It’s hard for a dog to find the perfect fit.” Follow up with the bestseller Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes if the dog seems to enjoy this one.

Other exciting events coming up include a talk by award-winning author Susan Campbell Bartoletti on September 22 at 7:00. She will describe her writing process for The Boy Who Dared, which won this year’s William Allen White Award, as well as her other nonfiction and fiction books. The following week, parents and caregivers are invited to our annual Toddler Fair on September 28 from 9:30 to noon. Mercy Regional Health Center co-sponsors the event, and more than a dozen other agencies or businesses will be on hand to give information about the services they provide for young children, child care providers and families.

Check the library’s online events calendar for even more programs for children, including monthly ZOOfari Tails, kids’ movies, game days and more.

Posted in: Children's Dept, Mercury Column

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Seniors and Technology by Ann Pearce

I was headed home the other day, when I noticed my gas gauge said empty, not just sort of close to empty, but EMPTY.So, instead of turning left and going up the hill, I turned right and headed for the nearest gas station.I was slightly apprehensive about the prospect of filling up my car due to the fact that upon occasion, brand new gas pumps confound me, and I had never been to this particular station.Yes, I am so old that I remember a time when you only had to drive up to the pump and a friendly young man would come up to the car and ask, “Fill it up?”That same friendly young man would check your oil and clean your windshield, but I digress.I told myself, all I have to do is read the LED screen and follow the directions.I found the slot for my credit card, remembering to remove it quickly, grabbed the nozzle, and punched the number for regular.The LED screen said to start fueling, which I attempted to do and nothing happened.I tried again, but nothing happened.I waited so long, the LED screen read, “cancelling transaction.”Now, you really can’t argue with an LED screen, and it doesn’t look good to the other customers if you do. So, I simply started the process all over again hoping for a different result.Up to this point, all of my attention had been on the screen, but this time around when I punched the number 87, low and behold there was a second hose hanging on the right side of the pump. Grabbing the gasoline nozzle instead of the one for ethanol was all it took.Needless to say, I was elated to successfully complete the transaction and head for home.

Technology can be fun, exciting, useful, necessary, aggravating, slightly annoying (as my example above demonstrates) and sometimes downright overwhelming.It is also ubiquitous and constantly evolving.As a senior, where does one go to find answers to technology questions?Most of us call our children or grandchildren with varying degrees of satisfaction.However, another resource is “The Senior Sleuth’s Guide to Technology for Seniors” by David Peterka.

This easy-to-read guide introduces the reader to computers, the Internet, and gadgets galore to enrich daily living.The word ‘introduces’ should be stressed here.If you already have a Facebook page along with your dog, you watch your favorite movies streaming over the Internet, and you order all your airline tickets online, this may not be the book for you.However, if you are unsure of what technologies there are available, and you are curious to find out, this would make a good read.

Peterka points out that over the last few years, the senior technology market is booming.Even the International Consumer Electronics Show, which is held every January and is the largest show of its kind, features a growing number of technologies targeting seniors in their Silvers Summit.The reason for this growing interest is obvious:There are 78 million baby boomers in this country, and they are just reaching their full earning and spending potential.

One area of concern for seniors is health management.As we age, health management can become more complicated.There are more doctors’ appointments to schedule, more medications to take, and more chronic illnesses to manage.Taking the correct medications at the right times is extremely important.So how do you make this chore easier to manage?If you need a simple reminder, you can choose between a watch that features several alarms and can list the medications to be taken, a pill box that beeps or vibrates, or a phone service that calls at the appropriate time.A more high tech solution is a medication dispenser.It is not only programmed to beep, but it dispenses the correct medication.If you don’t take the pills, then a caregiver or family member is notified.

On the lighter side, Peterka covers entertainment, from purchasing a digital camera to uploading your latest family video to YouTube.There is even a rather lengthy section on the much loved, much hated remote.And since technology is the topic, Peterka lists several web sites for further exploration including his own at www.sleuthguides.com.

For a close up look at some technologies and services available here at the library, stop by our booth Wednesday, September 21 at All Faiths Chapel on the K-State campus.At 7:00 p.m., Dr. William Thomas will give a lecture entitled, “Eldertopia: How Elders Will Change the World.”Funding for this lecture is provided by the Beach Museum of Art, the Office of the President of KSU, the Center on Aging, K-State Libraries, the College of Human Ecology, and Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community.Other cooperating agencies are the KSU Department of Interior Architecture and Product Design, the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, and Manhattan Public Library.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

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Personalized Reading Lists from the Manhattan Public Library

We’ve been thrilled by the enthusiastic response we’ve gotten to our Personalized Reading List service. For months now we’ve been helping patrons find their next favorite book. If you’re wondering what to read next, why not let us help by providing you with a list of fiction and/or non-fiction titles suited to your reading tastes and interests. Just pick up a reading survey at the library, or click here to print one you can mail or bring in at your convenience. Give us at least two weeks and we’ll give you a list of books we think you’ll enjoy.

Here are a few of the well-received titles we’ve recommended to Personalized Reading List users recently:

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