Library displays value of expression

Irvin Trigueros

The Los Medanos College library staff has posted up two displays at the lobby inside the library for everyone interested in banned books or the upcoming elections in November. Senior Library Assistant, Teresa Ferguson and the library student workers constructed the two displays: one created for next week’s Banned Books Week, an annual event about books that were in one time or another blocked from libraries and certain school and school districts around the nation over the years; another created as a collage of books about politics, public voting and government with a banner encouraging students to vote in this year’s elections.
“The ideas came from our librarians,” said Karen Hernandez, one of the library student workers who decorated the displays. “They decided what displays we were going to make, and we were in charge of putting everything together.” Each display was created to spread awareness for both events, with the former also serving as a celebration for what Christine Park, technical services librarian, calls “freedom” for books. Regarding the banned book displays, “We’re just trying to raise awareness of books that have been banned in the past and why they have been banned,” said Park, adding that they also want to raise awareness of censorship today and that the library does not
ban these books. Park states that they went over a list of about 50-100 books that were previously deemed inappropriate for grade schools. Ferguson gave her staff freedom to decide what books to put up. The books that are on display now are what the LMC library has in its collection, including Bill Martin Jr.’s “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” – a book once recently banned in Texas because the author shared the same full name as the Marxist theorist – and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye – known for its violence, profanity and intense sexual references.
The second display is a motivational piece and a reminder for students to vote, or register to vote, in the upcoming November 2012 presidential elections. The display includes books such as “The Breakthrough” by Gwen Ifill, a book concerning political landscape in the “United States, A Voter’s Guide Election 2008” by Franklin Foer, a hard book guide that includes insightful facts and information about the candidates of that election, and “Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics” by Michael Wheeler, an old mid1970s book about the general flaws of poll taking.
Also included are posted facts of American history, including a timeline of when the right to vote was obtained, a detailed list of five reasons why we should vote in general and an Uncle Sam image wanting us to vote, as well as a list of candidates that are currently running for election. The selection of books left an impression on the people that worked on the displays.
Hernandez personally has a hard time believing that schools banned some books such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “A Light In The Attic” in the first place. While Park does not personally know all the books on display, she finds the Brown Bear book an interesting inclusion, wondering why was that banned. “It seems like a very benign children’s book,” said Park. “It’s just a picture book for little kids so it’s written in very simple language, there’s really nothing controversial about it at all, that I could see.”
But what impressed them more was the people that actually took the time to examine the displays. “There isn’t a lot of people who’re interested in actually reading, so there’s a lot of displays [that] people could have never thought would be interesting like banned books,” said Hernandez. “I think people have stopped by and look at it and actually read it, which surprised me, and made me happy.”
The banned book display will be up until at least the end of Banned Books Week on Oct. 6, while the election display will be up until the 22 of that same month when the voter registration form deadline arrives. The next topic selection of books for display has yet to be decided.