barefootsong: stack of books with text "I read banned books" (banned books)
While browsing Banned Books Week posts around the internet, I found a meme (originally from Jo Knowles):

1. Go find your favorite banned book.
2. Take a picture of yourself with said book.
3. Give that book some love by explaining why you think it is an important book.
4. Post it to your blog.
5. Spread the word!

Happy Banned Books Week!

I was about a month into my first library job when my supervisor plopped a picture book on the desk and inquired if I had read it yet. I was working as a part-time library assistant in the youth services department of a public library and the book the children's librarian handed me was And Tango Makes Three.

I read it. I loved it. Although my children's lit professor would cringe to hear me say it, the illustrations really are cute. (I dare you to look upon wee Tango and not smile at her adorable fuzziness.) To appease my professor (who really did teach me better), I'll add that the story and illustrations are equally charming and work well together to convey a story about a family that's "a little bit different" but no less loving than other families.

This book changed my life. It changed how I see and interact with the world.

Growing up, I was aware of homosexuality and censorship, but neither affected me directly so I didn't give either issue much thought. My parents are wonderful, open-minded people who let me do my own thinking and never told me that any way of loving was more or less acceptable than any other. I have always believed that people have a right to live their own lives—a right to choose who they love and what they read—but in my own world that was a given.

Then I met Tango.

And when I finished reading that book, so sweet and happy, I went straight to Amazon to look up the reviews, knowing there would be bad ones. It turned out there was only one bad review, since Tango had only been published a few months before. But that single bad review has stuck in my mind ever since. The scathing review indicated that this book was pushing a homosexual agenda by promoting tolerance of alternative lifestyles. The fact that someone could think promoting tolerance was a bad thing shocked and horrified me.

Reading Tango and that one bad review on Amazon brought censorship and lgbt rights to life for me. Once intangible problems, And Tango Makes Three made these into issues for me.

Everyone has the right to choose who they love and what they read.

No one has the right to tell others who they can or cannot love or marry. No one has the right to tell others what they can or cannot read.

Further reading )

barefootsong: Lots of books. (books)
Yesterday Google posted on their Inside Google Books blog the number of books in the world (or their approximation thereof): [129,864,880].

It's an interesting article, describing what they use as their definition for "a book" and how they deal with winnowing out the myriad duplicate records to get an actual approximation of the number of books. And it's an interesting number, too. 129,864,880. More precise than, say, 130 million, but still only an approximation. And suitably large that the number is incomprehensible (I am reminded of the picture book How Much Is A Million?—and here is an apropos link to the Google Books [preview] of it).

What I noticed, though, was what's missing. "All the books in the world" needs some sort of qualifier. It should be "all the books in the world right now." I suppose that's an obvious implication, given that Google is only concerned with books they can potentially digitize, and thus they would only care about counting the number of books that exist right now.

But this afternoon I came across another blog article that proved a perfect, if sobering, complement to the Google Books article: [A Universal History of the Destruction of Books] from James Bridle's blog at The loss of books means the loss of our history—who we are and where we've come from. How many times we've been down these same destructive roads.

And then there is the [Archimedes palimpsest], and all the other hidden texts—books that were repurposed back when the materials they were made of were valuable commodities.

I love working with rare books and manuscripts. It's a constant reminder of how precious words are. The older a book is, the more adventures it had to live through in order for me to be admiring it today.

About the girl

The random musings of a librarian with a passion for reading (duh), a vast curiosity about the world, and a penchant for noticing things most people don't (like the way sunlight falls through the leaves on a tree).


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