by Shelley Bennett
You know what’s cool? It’s estimated that around 100 townspeople gathered at the public library last week to present their views. That’s probably more audience members than the library board has seen in all of the years it’s been in existence!
It was cool that because of our freedoms in the country we call home, we were all able to voice our opinions, feel seen and heard, and become educated on the American Library Association and their stance toward censorship. Democracy in action! Lifelong learning!
It was also cool to hear how impassioned the speakers were. Whether they had facts or statistics to provide evidence for their claims or their emotions could be seen and heard as they spoke, these people presented a variety of perspectives to represent their differences and similarities.
Which is also cool that we can all share our differences and STILL act civil and be accepting of others.
You know what’s not cool? Censorship.
Plain and simple. When you start censoring books and other materials, it is a slippery slope. Where do you stop? How do you decide? If you don’t know the answer to that, it’s time for a trip to the library. Start with Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Then move on to 1984 by George Orwell. Maybe throw in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
And while you’re at it, start attending other meetings, like the Susanville City Council, Board of Supervisors, Lassen County Fair Board, LCC Board, LCOE board, your local school board, and more. You should be able to view their agendas in advance to see if something of interest will be discussed or decided. Most are available online.
Why? We don’t have a local newspaper and we all need to be educated on matters involving us locally. One more thing: stop getting your news on Facebook! Susanville Needs is not a reliable, credible, and unbiased source. Trust me.
Before I get off my soapbox, I would like to remind you that this week is National Library Week. It’s a great time to support your library by donating funds to buy new books, be kind to the librarians, and even join the Friends of the Library organization. All three are on my list of things to do this week.
Be informed. Be kind. Be cool.
As I’ve said before, I am a reader. It’s been my hobby, passion, and number one interest since my mom read us The Little House on the Prairie when I was a little girl. My mom never censored what we read. When I could read and comprehend chapter books, I moved on to new worlds.
These books were where I found myself. When I read, I didn’t feel awkward or out of place. I saw characters who also felt awkward or out of place and in the end, they were ok.
Books were also where I broadened my mind. Some of the characters didn’t look like me or my friends, so I learned what it meant to be Jewish, to live in New York, that there was a scary thing called the Holocaust.
I was in third, maybe fourth grade when I read Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume and I had no idea what she was talking about.
I had to read more. Blubber, Deenie, Then Again Maybe I Won’t, Are you There God, It’s me Margaret. Judy Blume tackled the issues of every middle schooler, from bullying to menstruating. Looking back, there were times I didn’t understand what I was reading and it was ok. It might have gone over my head then, but I would remember it later and think, “Oh! That’s what she was talking about!”
I’ll always remember passing around a tattered, dog-eared copy of Forever on the 7th grade end of the year party. The rest of my class was swimming in Roosevelt Pool, but I was getting an education reading the highlighted parts a previous reader had thoughtfully left. If you know, you know.
Every kid in Lassen County should be able to find themselves in a book and they should also be able to learn, imagine, and dream of worlds and people and possibilities they didn’t even know existed.
Remember when news was ‘newsy’? When you read about weddings, family events and engagement announcements in the newspaper? If you have something that might be newsworthy, please submit it to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to include it here in “The Good Stuff.”