During my time as a college student at Elon University, I worked at the Carol Grotnes Belk Library on campus.  Sometimes I worked at the Circulation Desk and helped fellow students or faculty members check out materials, answered general questions, and returned carts of books back to the stacks.  Most of the time, I worked on the second floor and helped library patrons with general questions, printer issues, and even taught folks how to operate the microfilm and microfiche machines.  My shift was often 8pm-1am and I would inevitably have a fellow student come to me in desperation because their paper was due the next morning and they needed a book to write it and they couldn’t find it anywhere!  Help!  Sometimes we were out of luck, but other times we would find that book together and I would often get grateful hugs.  Honestly, I loved working at Belk Library and being in libraries and book stores has always made me happy. 

Colchester made the news this week concerning a children’s book about RuPaul at Cragin Memorial Library. (Please check out NBC CT’s coverage, WFSB’s coverage, and/or The Day’s coverage of the story if you’d like). 
Because of my position as the Minister of the Colchester Federated Church, I am on the Board of Trustees at Cragin Memorial Library. 
And hello, working in the library was my job all through college!  So yes, I have many thoughts, and I am writing this reflection from my own personal perspective. 

Our local library is awesome.  The Director of Cragin Library, Kate Byroade, is terrific. 
I love that our local library puts out displays of books based on what’s happening in the world around us.  I love that there are displays celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride since June is Pride month.  I love that people of all ages can walk into a library and educate themselves on all sorts of topics.  And I acknowledge that what may interest you may not interest me and vice versa. 

Book banning is one form of censorship (see this article from Librarian Susan Webb for more information).  The tactic often used is saying that a particular book contains graphic violence, is disrespectful for families/young children, is sexually explicit, lacks any literary merit, uses offensive language, or some will even call particular books “evil”.  Book banning is the most common form of censorship in our country and children’s literature is often targeted.  This is all playing out like a textbook culture war here in our small town. 

So here’s some of my (admittedly scattered) thoughts:
Let’s educate ourselves about book banning. 
Though would we even be talking about the “offensive” image in this particular book if it weren’t about the queer cultural icon RuPaul? 
Is the issue this book and this image that somebody found offensive, or is the issue that our town’s library staff had an LGBTQ+ Pride display in the children’s section? 
But let’s clarify that the books on display were age-appropriate! 
As if there are no queer kids in Colchester.
As if there are no same-sex couples raising children in our town who would love to read books about families who look like their family.
Because God forbid children learn about human diversity and how to be inclusive, kind human beings! 

Sending love to all, and especially to those who are hurting from the events this week,
Pastor Lauren

Photo of Pastor Lauren’s books that she long ago organized in a rainbow pattern in her office at CFC.

Thursday Thoughts 6/30/22