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Friday, April 15, 2011

The Library Is A Dangerous Place!

On a relatively quiet afternoon, as I sat at the reference desk reading the latest YALSA magazine, a small redheaded boy with a dash of freckles on his nose felt the urge to share his discovery with EVERYONE in the library. What was his announcement? "Wow! This Library is dangerous!" This young boy's view is definitely not mainstream. As a matter of fact, most people, would probably say that the library is a wonderful place to visit. Quiet. Safe. Sometimes, even cozy. But Dangerous? Nah! Not the library. What was this kid talking about? Upon further investigation it turns out that he had discovered a whole new world of rocket, volcanos, magnets and wrestling. Could a boy dream of anything better?

The thought comes to mind that perhaps this little boy is right. This library or any library for that matter is a dangerous place. Where else could boys who like to shot things into the air like a model rocket find the inspiration to make their craft fly? There are wonderful books that demonstrate all types of dangerous activities from creating electricity with magnet to forming hot black lava to ooze out of self made volcano. The possibilities are endless! This actually should be a marketing ploy to lure boys into the library on a Saturday afternoon. Send home letters to parents and children in a red envelope with the worD DANGER in block letters on the front. The letter inside would warn parents of the dire consequences of letting Johnny or Jenny go to the library. They might find out cool facts about fire, wrestling and darts. All very dangerous to young children. What would happen if you utter these words to your child, "No! You can't do that?" You get the picture.

Danger can come in all forms. Kids sometimes find the novels which challenge them to "think" dangerously. Titles like Atlas Shrugged, Brave New World and Animal Farm all deal with individuality and the price for not conforming with authority. A more recent trilogy that has become one of my favorites is The Hunger Games. Collins' book is riveting, compelling and dangerously thought provoking. This book has been used in the teen's book discussion. Teens' comments and insights about the role of government and citizens were candid and a little suprising. One teen jokingly said that dictators were cool, as long as he got to be the dictator!" Indeed, the idea of absolute power can be a very dangerous.

What can be more dangerous than the tricks that our minds play on us from time to time? Series like Michigan Chillers and American Chillers from Jonathan Rand explore the world of creepy scary things that make the skin crawl. No one really wants to believe that these creatures exist, but there is a small nagging feeling that just maybe there is something to these stories. After reading Rand's Chillers, thee are some kids who dare to poke around in the paranormal sections to investigate if things really go bump in the night. That is a very dangerous section indeed.

AS National Library Week comes to a close, it's a nice thought that libraries can be very dangerous places. A place where a kid can find out how to make their own big "bang", explore ideas that ignite debate or scare oneself silly that their own heart might dangerously stop. As a librarian, its satisfying to know that this is what living on the edge is all about! It is absolutely true, libraries are dangerous for kids of all ages. Go ahead and let them loose in the library. I dare you!
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