Monday, May 28, 2012

Dare Patrons To Go Between The Covers

It is kind of ironic that the big news in adult fiction is censoring "Fifty Shades of Gray" when this year's Adult Summer Reading program's theme is "Between The Covers". Sometimes fate just happens to makes the statement that everyone thinking but dares not say out loud. So the book has smoking, sex, dirty words and a many things that may offend sensible people. The first question that should pop into a librarian's mind is, "Are we reading this book to children during story time?" Of course not! Hop on Pop is much more fun to read! Seriously, there seems to be an attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill. Between the Covers theme presents the perfect opportunity to explore titles that have been "forbidden" or "shocking". It may be a surprise to some that Uncle Tom's Cabin was considered a novel of ill repute. Some others titles that are in good company with Stowe's tome are Gone with the Wind, Ulysses, Doctor Zhivago, and Alice in Wonderland. Yes, dear old Alice caused quite a stir in her day and yet here now Carroll's work is known as a classic. Will Fifty Shades of Gray follow suit ast a classic? Who knows, but the media attention about the book is helping it get noticed. A unique summer reading program for adults could include "scandalous" titles as a suggested reading list along with a book talk. Of course, that's the tried and true idea. However, with a little bit of networking and planning a spark of excitement can make an evening program memorable. For example, contacting a college/university English to speak on the history of banned books could is a wonderful opportunity for the colleges and public libraries work together. Another possibility is a costume party. Some libraries have held fundraisers inviting their guests to dress up as their favorite characters from a banned book. It makes for an interesting party night and the money raised for the library is an added bonus. Last but certainly not least, libraries can hold a "dare" program through their website. The object of creating a "I dare you to ..." webpage is to encourage readers to read a book that they may not have picked up on their own. Once the readers have read the book that the librarian (or another patron) has dared them to read, they can then leave a comment on the I Dare page to give their opinion of the book. It can be something as simple as, " I dared to read Fifty Shades of Gray and I'm shocked that I actually liked it." This could bring traffic to the library's website, which could lead to patrons exploring what other events are planned at the library. It's going to be an interesting summer of reading for adults. Who knows what lies between the covers? The reader who dares to look between the covers will not only know what lies there but will be able to make an informed "opinion" about a literary work instead of listening to a second hand account. After all, that is what censorship is about. Listening to one's person's opinion about a piece of work and not bothering to find out for yourself if the opinion is shared or shattered. Be brave! Go boldly between the covers! When you are done with one "adventure", local libraries will be waiting to help you find the next one.
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