That One Time a Book Burning Party Was a GOOD Idea
While perusing my trusty tumblr dashboard yesterday, something caught my eye. It was a post by author Neil Gaiman that had been reblogged by someone I follow. The text that Neil had written below a video was what grabbed my attention:
Why a proposed book-burning party was a Very Good Thing Indeed.
This text was only emphasized more by the image the video was stilled at–a yard sign that read “Vote to close Troy Library Aug. 2nd, Book burning party Aug. 5th.”
The two ideas didn’t match up to me. Here was a video that, as far as I could tell from the image, was encouraging book burning and closing libraries, but it was posted by an author–and authors, as a whole, tend to not encourage book burnings and library closings. Seeing as how I was already procrastinating, I decided to watch the video and find out what this was all about. What I saw astounded me.
Watch the video. Now. I’ll wait.
Did you watch it?
When I watched this video the first time–and, really, every time I’ve watched it since–it made me so excited. It seems like every election season in my area, another levy is on the ballot. When I was in high school, it felt like we were constantly fighting for school levies. Levies are, of course, a local issue and are more important than a lot of people give them credit for. They can change the structure of a school, they can determine the availability of public libraries. And, yes, every time a levy comes up on a ballot, the opponents go straight to the money, while those who need the levy money struggle to make the conversation about what will be lost.
I was floored by what the Troy Library was able to achieve. Outfunded and outnumbered by their opponents, they took a creative approach to change the conversation. They didn’t need millions of dollars or thousands of grassroots volunteers. They only needed a bunch of yard signs, a firm knowledge of social media, and a touch of creativity. They took the controversial idea of book burning, pretended to be a group that supported such an act, and got the attention of media the world over. They brought the conversation back around from taxes and money to what was going to be lost if the levy failed–the library.
And then they won. They saved their library thanks to a proposed book burning party.
It just goes to show that it’s possible to change the conversation with limited funds, if you have enough creativity. Never underestimate the power of social media. And when election day rolls around, don’t ignore the local issues. Those issues are the ones that are most directly going to impact you and your life, so speak out.
You just might save a library.