Yes, I know that the ALA’s weeklong — what would you call it? promotion? celebration? tribute? — that starts tomorrow is actually about banned books, not libraries. But let others share their tales of particular books that have been banned. Me, I’ve had the experience of having an entire library declared off-limits to me.
Well, OK. Half a library. But it was the good half.
It happened when I was in second grade at Lamar Elementary. I’d plowed through most of the whitewashed biographies of Great Americans found on the first- and second-grade side of the school library, and I was ready to take on the tomes about Boris Karloff and the Bermuda Triangle found on the third- and fourth-grade side of the room.
No can do, I was told. I was too young to read the books for the older kids. Or I hadn’t finished reading all the books on my side of the library. Or they were afraid I’d get beat up by toughs if I wandered into other grades’ territory. Or something.
My mom complained. “These are the rules,” they told her. That was real effective. Mom took it to the principal, dropped the names of a couple of friends on the school board (one of the benefits of living in a small town), and before you knew it, I was livin’ la vida biblioteca.
My new access privileges paid off right away, as I was able to do the research I needed for my first book, The Fozzie Brothers Meet the Monsters (self-published), as well as for my pro bono thesis for NASA on the Bermuda Triangle’s role in bringing down Skylab.