Monthly Archives: September 2016
By Rebecca Tischler, Reference Department
It’s that time of year again, the time to celebrate… the freedom to READ!! Banned Books Week is Sept. 25 – Oct. 1, an annual week that highlights the importance of free and open access to information. Yeah, I know we’re also gearing up for Halloween, with fantasies of 5 candy corns, 4 chocolate kisses, 3 tiny monsters, 2 couple costumes and a big ole’ jack-o-latern… well, close enough. Is it not terrifying to think about the possibility that not only could you be told what you have to read (thank you summer and required reading), but that you could also be told what you can’t read?
That may not be quite as terrifying as having dead pets come back from the grave as violent and disturbed zombies, or having a scarred psychopath with claws for fingers chase you in your dreams, but still, it’s scary. Farenheit 451 and Brave New World scary (Have you read them? They’re pretty good, and they’ve also been challenged or banned in an ironic twist). That’s why we have Banned Books Week, the annual event “brings together the entire book community – librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types – in shared support of the freedom to seek, to publish, to read, and to express ideas, even those [that] some consider unorthodox or unpopular,” according to the American Library Association (ALA).
This week encourages people to look at some of the efforts that have been taken across the country, including the reasoning behind those efforts, to remove or restrict access to books. This draws national attention to the harms of censorship, and the infringement on intellectual freedom. The ALA really says it best, so take a look at an excerpt from their website:
What Is Intellectual Freedom?
Intellectual freedom is the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored… Intellectual freedom is the basis for our democratic system. We expect our people to be self-governors. But to do so responsibly, our citizenry must be well-informed. Libraries provide the ideas and information, in a variety of formats, to allow people to inform themselves. Intellectual freedom encompasses the freedom to hold, receive and disseminate ideas.
What Is Censorship?
Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons—individuals, groups or government officials—find objectionable or dangerous. It is no more complicated than someone saying, “Don’t let anyone read this book, or buy that magazine, or view that film, because I object to it! ” Censors try to use the power of the state to impose their view of what is truthful and appropriate, or offensive and objectionable, on everyone else. Censors pressure public institutions, like libraries, to suppress and remove from public access information they judge inappropriate or dangerous, so that no one else has the chance to read or view the material and make up their own minds about it. The censor wants to prejudge materials for everyone… In most instances, a censor is a sincerely concerned individual who believes that censorship can improve society, protect children, and restore what the censor sees as lost moral values. But under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, each of us has the right to read, view, listen to, and disseminate constitutionally protected ideas, even if a censor finds those ideas offensive.
What Is The Relationship Between Censorship And Intellectual Freedom?
In expressing their opinions and concerns, would-be censors are exercising the same rights librarians seek to protect when they confront censorship. In making their criticisms known, people who object to certain ideas are exercising the same rights as those who created and disseminated the material to which they object. Their rights to voice opinions and try to persuade others to adopt those opinions is protected only if the rights of persons to express ideas they despise are also protected. The rights of both sides must be protected, or neither will survive… Censors might sincerely believe that certain materials are so offensive, or present ideas that are so hateful and destructive to society, that they simply must not see the light of day. Others are worried that younger or weaker people will be badly influenced by bad ideas, and will do bad things as a result. Still others believe that there is a very clear distinction between ideas that are right and morally uplifting, and ideas that are wrong and morally corrupting, and wish to ensure that society has the benefit of their perception. They believe that certain individuals, certain institutions, even society itself, will be endangered if particular ideas are disseminated without restriction. What censors often don’t consider is that, if they succeed in suppressing the ideas they don’t like today, others may use that precedent to suppress the ideas they do like tomorrow.
And just for fun, take a look at the top ten most challenged books of 2015:
- Looking for Alaska, by John Green
Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
- I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
- Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
- The Holy Bible
Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
- Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
- Habibi, by Craig Thompson
Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
- Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
- Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).
By Katy Searcy, Children’s Department
At this point, we’ve all heard something about the wildly popular game Pokémon Go. You know, the game that has players falling off cliffs and running into oncoming traffic. The game that many players claim has improved their mental health. Maybe you know it as the game that finally got your kids off the couch and walking around outside. Either way, Pokémon Go really is a great way for people of all ages to spend some time in the great outdoors, especially as the weather changes. And we’re here to give you the basics and some tips on how to play (especially after helping numerous children catch pokemon at the library).
Pokémon Go was created by Niantic, Inc. as a way to get players out of the house and exploring their neighborhoods and cities. It’s similar to geocaching, but without finding physical objects. Pokémon are spawned based on the player’s geographic location, which is tracked through the GPS in the player’s smartphone. As you move, your avatar moves in the game, and the more you move, the better your chances for finding Pokémon.
Pokémon fall into different categories, or “types.” Each Pokémon is typically found in a location correlating to its type. For instance, Water Pokémon are found near bodies of water (ponds, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc.), Grass Pokémon and Bug Pokémon are in particularly grassy areas (parks, golf courses, nature trails, etc.), and Normal Pokémon can be found in residential areas. These Pokémon are more common in this area, although that doesn’t mean you won’t come across a different type. You can also hatch Pokémon from eggs collected from PokéStops, and in order to hatch them, you have to walk. Each egg hatches after a certain predetermined distance—2 km, 5 km, or 10 km—, and the greater the distance walked, the rarer the Pokémon hatched.
When you come upon a Pokémon, your phone will vibrate to let you know you found something. You tap on the Pokémon that appears on your screen, and from there, the app uses augmented reality through your phone’s camera, so it looks like the Pokémon is there in the real world. You’ll be prompted to “catch” it with a Poké Ball, and you throw the ball by swiping up on the screen with your finger to hit the Pokémon in the circle.
There are locations scattered around town called PokéStops and Gyms that are usually found either along nature trails, historic sites, churches, public buildings, and other interesting local locations. Stops are places players can visit to get supplies, and Gyms are for battling. The library is a PokéStop, and since we’re in a historic part of town, there are lots of Stops and Gyms around us. Lure modules can be placed at Stops, which lure Pokémon to the Stop for thirty minutes.
Once caught, you can make Pokémon stronger by powering them up or evolving them using the stardust and candy that you get when you catch a Pokémon. You can also transfer your Pokémon to get candy, which is especially helpful when you have lots of low CP, common Pokémon. The more Pokémon you catch, the more stardust and candy you get. When you’ve reached Level 5, you can battle other players’ Pokémon and train your Pokémon at Gyms.
The best spots to catch Pokémon are typically places that are heavily populated or where there are lots of active users, such as Cool Springs or downtown Franklin. PokéStops will give you more items, and you’ll find better Pokémon if you’re in a bigger area. Landmarks and other places of interest are good to try, too. You’ll find better and rarer Pokémon as your trainer level advances, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t catch anything amazing at first.
“What does all this have to do with the library, of all places?” you might be thinking. As I mentioned earlier, the Main Branch of WCPL in Franklin is a PokéStop itself, with tons of other Stops and a couple of Gyms within walking distance. It would be a great starting place for anyone wanting to walk around and catch Pokémon. Starting in the back of our parking lot, you could walk along Columbia Avenue towards downtown, picking up seven or eight Stops along the way. I’ve personally caught decent Pokémon—like Pinsirs and Scythers—in the library, and I’ve seen people catch Glooms, Arboks, and Wigglytuffs. We’ve also been known to drop Lures at some of our library events, so you never know what you might find here.
By Lon Maxwell, Reference Department
I hear this and immediately think of Joe Strummer howling at the start of the Clash’s song of the same name. While that was about the smoke and exhaust of the metropolitan road systems and gridlock, three hundred and fifty years ago it meant something far different. From the second to the fifth of September, 1666, London did indeed burn. A huge swath of the old medieval city of London, north of the Thames, was nothing but ash.
The great fire of 1666 was not a terrorist plot like the abortive attempt to destroy parliament from sixty some years before with Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder plot. It did not have anything to do with the English Civil War and the return of the monarchy six years prior with the coronation of Charles II. It didn’t even directly tie to the plague outbreak the year prior, although that did lend some contributing factors. No, while Great Britain in the 17th century was a tumultuous place, the fire began in a most mundane way. It started with a stray spark from a bakery oven.
Just after midnight on 2 September 1666, the bakery of Thomas Farriner caught fire. Farriner, baker to King Charles II, lived above the bakery with his three children and a servant. The Family was unable to get to the street but did manage to get into the next house through an upstairs window. The serving woman, terrified by the situation refused and became the first victim of the fire. By the end of the day on Sunday the fire had spread almost half way to the far city wall.
Samuel Pepys, the noted diarist, lived in the environs of the fire and was able to view it from a tower and from a boat on the river. As a senior official in the Navy Office he was called to the King and reported on what he saw.
“everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them onto lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the water-side to another.”
His report led to the Duke of York, the future James II, and King Charles himself going to the Thames to view the situation. The King ordered all buildings adjacent to the burning to be torn down. The Duke of York offered the life guards to assist in fighting the blaze. It was, however, a bit too late. The fire itself had created a chimney effect. A vacuum existed from the air being heated and pulled up through the fire. This in turn caused more air to rush into the area of the fire close to the ground. Anyone familiar with the principles of a blast furnace will tell you that this is a great recipe for extreme heat. The temperature was so high (approximately 1700°C) that pottery actually melted. From a position across the river, Pepys noticed the “one entire arch of fire from this to the other side of the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile long: it made me weep to see it”
Over the following days the fire spread until it was finally contained and on Tuesday and brought to an end the following day. Gunpowder was used for wholesale destruction of houses to create fire breaks. That and the dying down of what had been a very stiff east wind finally allowed for control and an extinguishing. The damage included the destruction of 13,500 houses, 87 parish churches, and 44 Company (guild) Halls and the final total was accessed at £10,000,000 (more than a billion pounds in today’s money) Only eight people were reported to have died but this number is heavily suspect because the temperatures reached would have melted steel and certainly would have cremated the remains of any of London’s poor unfortunate enough to not be reported missing.
Why the fire happened was an interesting thing. At first foreigners and papists were blamed. This was proven false, but the prejudice lasted for many years. Because the fire started on Pudding Lane and ended at Pye corner, many people suggested the fire was God’s punishment for the gluttony of the city. In actuality it was a combination of cheap buildings, poor design and planning, and poor management on the account of the Lord Mayor. Buildings in London were supposed to have been made of stone to prevent just such a thing. Stone was too costly and everyone went to wood as the next best choice. Also, in order to maximize available space, each successive floor was slightly larger than the ground level floor, jutting out over the street. The close proximity of such dwellings caused the fire to spread very rapidly. Finally, Lord Mayor Sir Thomas Bloodworth refused to act. Within an hour of the start he was called to Pudding Lane and asked to give the order to demolish surrounding houses to form a break. He declined initially and eventually left the scene, but not before declining the help of the Lifeguards and untruly telling representatives of the king demolitions were under way. That did not actually start until well into Monday.
The Great Fire of London changed the face of London. The rebuilding was similar to the prior plan and avoided the radical changes suggested by some like John Evelyn, but there were still changes. Regulations to avoid fire were more strictly enforced and fire companies better trained. To this day you can still see the monuments, the Great Fire monument near the start and the Golden boy of Pye where it finally was brought to a halt.
You can learn more about the 1666 Great Fire of London at the library:
- The Great Fire of London by Pam Robson (J 942.1 ROB)
- Fire Cat by Pippa Goodhart (J E GOO)
- By Permission of Heaven: The Story of the Great Fire of London by Adrian Tinniswood (942.1 TIN)
- The Great Fire of London by Stephen Porter (942.1066 POR)
- The Mammoth Book of How it Happened in Britain by Jon E. Lewis (eBook through TotalBoox)
- In Ashes Lie by Marie Brennan (F BRE)