Un-Burning Baby Be-Bop

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From American Libraries: Milwaukee-area citizen Robert C. Braun of the Christian Civil Liberties Union (CCLU) distributed at the meeting copies of a claim for damages he and three other plaintiffs filed April 28 with the city; the complainants seek the right to publicly burn or destroy by another means the library’s copy of Baby Be-Bop. The claim also demands $120,000 in compensatory damages ($30,000 per plaintiff) for being exposed to the book in a library display, and the resignation of West Bend Mayor Kristine Deiss for “allow[ing] this book to be viewed by the public.”

While we watch the story unfold in Wisconsin, what can we do?

Perhaps the plantiffs only requested to destroy the book because they wanted more media attention.’  Or maybe they really do want to burn it.’  Whatever their reasons, the case’ for intellectual freedom can be made in our libraries, with “anti-burning” activities.

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  • Programs – Have an “Anti-Burning” or “Un-Burning”‘ Party, where teens learn how to restore bindings and mend books!’  It’s the opposite of destroying them, and it may save your library money.
  • Displays – ‘ Create a’ book display in your library that features Baby Be-Bop.’  It’s not too late for a Pride Month theme.’  You could also focus on Francesca Lia Block titles.’ ‘  Add a sign detailing the case in Wisconsin.
  • Advisory groups’ – Discuss this issue with your teen advisory group.’  Are they aware of the case?’ ‘  What do adults need to know about’ teens’ right to read?
  • Video Booktalks – Staff or teens can create video booktalks for Baby Be-Bop.

Happy Anti-Burning, everyone!

Holly Anderton
Chair, Intellectual Freedom Committee

About Intellectual Freedom Committee

The intellectual freedom committee serves as a liaison between the YALSA and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and all other groups within the Association concerned with intellectual freedom.
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One Comment

  1. Believe it or not I’m grateful to the group that wanted to burn Baby Be-Bop and a different group that simply wants it removed from the library’s Young Adult section. I’m grateful because I’d never heard of the book before. When I checked it out of the library where I work, I found it to be lovely and thoughtful, and it’s made me want to read more of Francesca Lia Block’s books. And when I returned it I recommended it to our Young Adult librarian who’d also never heard of it but who got a kick out of the whole story and is reading the book now.

    As everyone knows these kinds of controversies do sometimes have a side benefit of making people want to read a particular book.

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