AT THE LIBRARY
Oh my goodness! I am always amazed at the number of folks who read this column. Thank you! Some of my very best professional moments have come from reader reactions to specific column topics. Thank you! Equally surprising is that I never know what topics may hit a nerve, make you laugh, or cause you to take action. I really do appreciate that you seem to get some pleasure from my sometimes not very politically correct, snarky, on my soapbox rants.
I was absolutely flabbergasted with people’s responses to “The Cuss Police” column that was printed two weeks ago. When the library opened on the Monday after the column ran, a woman was waiting at the door. She marched up to the service desk and thrust a $10 bill at me. “Here,” she stated emphatically, “I want to help pay to replace that book you talked about in your column.” She then went on to state her opinion about anyone who would damage a book. I am unable to write what she told me, but it was full of colorful words, just like those that were blacked out in the book.
The next person inquired about checking out the book when it was replaced. She wanted to be sure she was the first person on the holds list when our new copy arrived. “I want to read it to see what all the fuss is about,” she said.
Two more folks brought money to purchase a replacement. Since the damaged book was a paperback, the first $10 donation covered the replacement cost. One person gave us the money anyway. The other said to call her if it happened again. Both were angry at the offender and just couldn’t believe that this would happen in Mifflin County. “What’s the matter with people these days?” they lamented. I hope the question was rhetorical because I had no answer to give them.
Next, the email messages started to arrive. One of my colleagues wrote, “Way to call out the Mad Marker!!!” I just laughed and laughed at the moniker because up until this message arrived I was calling them the Cuss Police but, I like the Mad Marker so much better.
Scrolling through my unread messages, there was an unfamiliar name with “Cuss Police” as the subject. It was from Patricia Mastricolo, the editorial coordinator for Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org) — a nonprofit dedicated to protecting the First Amendment rights of comic book readers, retailers and creators. She wanted to know if I had a few minutes to answer some questions.
She asked the title of the book that was “censored.” Had we encountered this type of vandalism before? How do we normally handle challenges to materials? Is there advice I would give to others facing challenges such as this? And finally, since we are a comics/graphic novel/sequential art group: do you have any favorite comics or graphic novels?
I spent some time crafting answers to her questions and hit the send button. Frankly, I forgot all about this message as other priorities occupied my time. Two days later, there we were, the topic of a blog spot, written in Oregon, reaching 16,000 subscribers.
How in the world did a blogger and newsletter editor in Oregon find out about little Mifflin County Library in Lewistown, Pennsylvania? There are computer programs that allow you to search the World Wide Web using specific parameters, such as censored, freedom of information, freedom of speech, librarians, library and a date range. A little gobot searches out anything that meets the specific criteria, retrieves the information and VOILA! The next thing you know, Mifflin County Library ends up in a blog and newsletter. Pretty cool, huh? Take that, Chief of the Cuss Police aka The Mad Marker.
To read the blog go to:
Oh dear, I just had the most awful thought. What if this column and our notoriety give others the idea and they become copycat “markers.” We will just have to take our chances.
Molly S. Kinney is the director at the Mifflin County Library. She is currently reading the just received copy of “Lakeside Cottage,” by Susan Wiggs, that doesn’t have words blacked out. Come on in and get your name on the holds list to read this romance novel.