ROCHESTER, Minn. – The Rochester Public Library is asking people to vote on whether to ban certain books from their collection. Posters with seven different book titles are currently on display as you walk into the library.
Starting this weekend, a voting booth will be up in the lobby and folks are encouraged to cast their votes. The seven books on the ballot, including the Holy Bible and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, have all appeared on the American Library Association’s annual list of challenged material.
“People can stop in to the voting booth and chose which one they would vote to ban,” explains Karen Lemke, the Head of Marketing & Community Engagement at the library. “But there’s a twist at the end which I won’t reveal what happens but we really think when people go in to the voting booth they’ll be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.”
Lemke says just hours after the posters went up, the front desk started receiving comments from concerned patrons. She says starting conversations is exactly what they are trying to do with this campaign.
“We’ve had a lot of really great conversations, a lot of people coming to the library and saying, “We don’t want you to ban books.” and we say, “We don’t either,”” she adds.
The “Vote to Ban” campaign is meant to draw attention to the freedom we have to access the reading materials we want, and to recognize the work that is being done by librarians across the state to make sure people have access to the material they want to read.
“We are like many libraries across the United States. We want to protect your freedom to read, that is really important to libraries.”
The American Library Association estimates there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from U.S. schools and libraries each year.
The “Vote to Ban” booth will be at the library from September 25th-Oct.1st.