photos by NIC RICHARDSON
Danalene Porter, director of the Van Buren Public Library, being “arrested” by Van Buren police officer Brad Lipe and led out of the library for reading banned books - all part of an event to bring awareness to Banned Books Week.
Siblings Alyvia, Emma and Hayden King protest Porter’s arrest and for the freedom of choice in reading.
Director of the Van Buren Public Library was “arrested” by police Monday to bring attention to Banned Books Week and continuing censorship.
As part of Banned Books Week, Van Buren police officer Brad Lipe pretended to arrest Danalene Porter, director at the Van Buren Public Library, for reading “offensive” literature to minors.
A member of the staff at the library gave a “tip” to police that Porter was reading material that has been deemed by some schools, libraries and bookstores as inappropriate.
When Lipe arrived at the library, he found Porter reading “The Wizard of Oz” to a group of school-age children. Though Porter defended her actions by claiming she had freedom of speech, Lipe led Porter out of the library in handcuffs.
Porter was then released after a group of kids protested at the library in defense of the freedom to read.
Van Buren’s library has joined libraries and schools nationwide in observing Banned Books Week with a full week of events scheduled. The week was established in 1982 as a response to the growing list of books that were being challenged for reasons that include offensive language, violence and explicit sexuality.
Porter’s weapon of choice, “The Wizard of Oz” has been targeted several times in the past century, starting in 1928 for being “negative” and “unwholesome.”
“Books are banned in all ages, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity to educate everyone about censorship so that they can make up their own minds,” Porter said.
Themed labels with the term “redacted” cover several of the VBPL books this week. When asked about the label, Amanda Beck, a librarian at VBPL who organized the event, explained that censorship is fought on a regular basis.
“We use ‘redacted’ because we have people checking out books and marking out words,” Beck said. “If we catch it when it’s returned, we try to let whomever know that if we censor one word, we have to start censoring more and more, until all the books are blacked out.”
More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982, with 464 challenges reported to the Office of Intellectual Freedom in 2012, according to the Banned Books Week website. Many more go unreported, according to the website.
Some of the most challenged titles of 2012 include the “Captain Underpants” series by Dav Pilkey, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.
Many of this week’s library events focus on young adults because, Beck said, “It’s their stuff that is mostly banned and they don’t understand why.”
Patrons of all ages had their mug shots taken at the library Tuesday with their favorite banned book. The pictures can be found on the VBPL’s Facebook page.
Other Banned Books Week events include a craft day Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. for teens to make book safes and necklaces with charms made from the cover of their favorite banned book. Library staff will be handing out buttons Thursday in support of reading banned books.
There will be food all day Friday with Grapes of Wrath blueberry muffins, Nightlock cranberry cookies and Honeyduke’s Exploding Bon Bons brownies. Saturday at 1 p.m. there will be a showing of “Fahrenheit 451,” a movie based on a book about the future where books are not just banned, but burned.
For more information, contact the Van Buren Public Library at (479) 474-6045.