Banned Books Week

We have crossed back over the border and are entering Vermont for the second time, still in search of those famous New England fall colors we have heard so much about. So far they are a little washed out, or at least eluding us, but we still have high hopes, and the landscape is lovely anyway.

New Hampshire. Afternoon shadows hint of winter light to come.

We are back in one of our favorite libraries of the trip, in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont. It is filled with beautiful artwork , woodwork and books; and of course wi fi! I really like the combination of old and new in libraries here, where there is money available. The Conway, NH library was in an old brick building, probably the town hall from the clock tower, but was modern inside, but with beautiful old stained glass and calligraphy of famous quotes running around the rooms below the ceiling. Here everything, down to the glass in doors and clocks looks to be over 100 years old, and yet the wi fi is fast!

This happens to be Banned Books Week, and the library has yellow Fire Line Do Not Cross tape across two doors to rooms where formerly banned books are displayed. It’s a sad commentary on the past and present when you read a list of banned books; I mean, Tom Sawyer! not so long ago banned in some Southern libraries, probably because of White/Black friendship, or in a few cases, people who see a queer around every corner. Some Americans think think if we could only return to pre Civil War social norms, we would be better off. Heck, why not return to burning witches, and books, while we’re at it.

Books, and the libraries who revere them, are one of the most important foundations of our democracy. So much media we absorb today is composed of sound bites mouthed by loud rude uninformed performers with little sense of integrity. I somehow feel a responsibility to all these books around me when I write this blog in this old building where so many have read, and written.

Love your library and your freedom of expression. There are few things more valuable in America.

In order to get a photo of me on this blog, I have to have a place to have it hosted. So I am having it hosted here. Sorry you have to look at me all the time. My sister, Anna Ruth (we’re from West Virginia) says it is the perfect portrait, because everyone always sees me with a camera, not in the picture, which is the way I prefer it. Claire took this when I was taking a photo of her to accompany her Desert Leaf work sometimes, and who knows, perhaps me too sometimes.


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