12 July 2011

Save Troy Library Tuesday: The Sisters research book burning.

How do you explain a "Book Burning Party" to a 7 and 11 year old? Well, The Dad and The Mom have been working on that since "John" posted a comment last week on Save Troy Library Tuesday announcing a "Book Burning Party" on August 5th. We let history and the girls curiosity guide our conversation, we played reporter, did a little digging, and even tried to contact the organizer/s of the event.  

This week we'll share quotes and information we found. Serendipitously** we begin with a voice from 1971, one of the Letters to the Children of Troy:


A public library is the first resource of a free people. We need only to look to the history of Nazi Germany in our own century to remember that the first act of the tyrant is to destroy the people's accumulated sources of knowledge;  the brief years of the Third Reich, which grew from the ashes of the German Reichstag and the proscribed burned books, was the ugliest period of human history.

Western civilization is a fragile structure, dependent alike upon faith, wisdom and good will. But beneath that fragility of the structure itself there is the most fundamental of all human aspirations: the will to be free. Freedom is based on knowledge, just as wisdom is based on learning; it is here in your library, that children of the City of Troy can realize the grandeur of the legacy of liberty which the American people cherish more than any other human institution.

As Governor, and on behalf of the people of Colorade, I extend congratulations to the City of Troy on the occasion of the completion of the library, and our best wishes to all the citizens who have built, and who will come, to this place of inspiration and meditation.

John A. Love


We asked around, hoping to find an answer to The Sister's question "but why a book burning party"? Paul Nelson, author of Retiring Guy's Digest, shared his correspondence with Troy Pulic Library's Director Cathy Russ, in which she explained:

"I wish I could tell you if this were someone's idea of a joke (sick!), or, as some have speculated, an attempt at reverse psychology to get people to vote yes. But those signs cost real money, and it takes time to put them out, as well as to file paperwork with Oakland County to register as an organization. More money than brains and too much time on their hands? Who knows? And this Tom Ball, who filed the paperwork, said he had to talk to his “board” before he could comment, which is also pretty weird. I will keep you posted!"
    We found all sorts of historical quotes on book burning:

    "And on the subject of burning books: I want to congratulate librarians, not famous for their physical strength or their powerful political connections or their great wealth, who, all over this country, have staunchly resisted anti-democratic bullies who have tried to remove certain books from their shelves, and have refused to reveal to thought police the names of persons who have checked out those titles.

    So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House or the Supreme Court or the Senate or the House of Representatives or the media. The America I love still exists at the front desks of our public libraries." Kurt Vonnegut, American Writer

    "The burning of a book is a sad, sad sight, for even though a book is nothing but ink and paper, it feels as if the ideas contained in the book are disappearing as the pages turn to ashes and the cover and binding--which is the term for the stitching and glue that holds the pages together--blacken and curl as the flames do their wicked work. When someone is burning a book, they are showing utter contempt for all of the thinking that produced its ideas, all of the labor that went into its words and sentences, and all of the trouble that befell the author..." Lemony Snicket, pen name of American Author Daniel Handler

    "Don't join the book burners. Don't think you're going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don't be afraid to go in your library and read every book..." Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States

    The latest news on Troy Public and how to get involved:
    • Articles from Troy Patch: Library Millage Debate Heats Up with Signs that Suggest Book Burning and Troy To Hold Community Meetinsgs to Discuss Library's Future
    • Does the City of Troy allow "temporary signs"? The answer is yes, if the rules are followed: Click here for details on the Troy City Sign Ordinance.
    • Live in Troy, have questions about the election? Attend a meeting!

      In order to answer any questions you have about this millage, the Library staff will hold a a series of Community Meetings throughout July. These meetings are open to the public. Please attend and bring a friend! The meeting dates are:

      Wednesday, July 6, 10 am, Troy Community Center Room 303
      Thursday, July 7, 1:30 pm, Troy Community Center Room 301
      Monday, July 11, 11 am, Troy Community Center Room 301
      Tuesday, July 12, 7 pm, Troy Community Center, Room 302
      Wednesday, July 13, 10 am, Troy Community Center Room 302
      Thursday, July 14, 2 pm, Troy Community Center Room 301
      Monday, July 18, 10 am, Troy Community Center Room 301
      Monday, July 18, 7 pm, Community of Christ Church
      Tuesday, July 19, 1 pm, Troy Community Center Room 305
      Tuesday, July 19, 7 pm, Big Beaver United Methodist
      Wednesday, July 20, 1:30 pm, Troy Community Center Room 303
      for more information: visit the TPL website.
    Great advice from the wonderful Dr. Suess! 

    While we don't have many clear answers about the "Book Burning Party", we feel strongly that lovers of books and supporters libraries will prevail and the millage will be won! The Little Sister suggests, "forget about book burning and just read more books from the Troy library!!!!!" 
    Next Week: The Sisters interview Troy Public Library Director Cathy Russ.

    **The Mom divided the 97 letters over the 7 weeks we planned our Save Troy Library Tuesday, John Love's letter, mentioning burned books,  just happened to be in this week's letters!


    1. P.S. While we did contact the person reported to be the man behind the book burning party, he has not responded... yet. We reached him on the telephone, he asked us to send him an email, we did. Now we're waiting for a response.

    2. We just received this email --finally an explanation...

      Troy, Michigan

      Re: Troy Library Book Burning Party

      First of all, we apologize for not returning any calls or email requests for information regarding the book burning party. If you visit facebook.com/BookBurningParty as of 6:30 PM today, our intentions should be clear.

      Through the past two elections, the conversation about the future of Troy?s library has been a rational one. Dollars and cents, political posturing, stats and numbers. But a library means so much more to our community than that. It?s even more than a place to gather, study, or borrow books. A library is a place where we learn to love books. A place to celebrate books. A place to learn that books are so important, our community has an entire building dedicated to them.

      This community has become numb to the rational conversation surrounding the library. It?s time to turn the rational conversation into an emotional one. To remind the people of Troy just how important the library is.

      Today, people are talking. They?re talking online, talking on the phone, and talking over the fence. They?re talking about books and what it means to lose a library. And that?s exactly what we should be talking about.

      This is not about politics. This is not about left or right. This is about a community on the verge of losing its library. A horrific thought to be sure.

      Books burned or shrink wrapped. In the end the result is the same. If the vote fails, the doors will be locked and the books gone from sight. Out of sight, out of mind. We can?t kid ourselves into believing the library will reopen any time soon. If ever.

      We encourage the passionate discussions to continue. And we hope it?s this passion that will get people to the polls on August 2 to vote YES and save our precious library.

      Safeguarding American Families

    3. Finally an explanation from the Book Burners. But a poor one at that.

      You, the Book Burners, claim you wanted to ”turn the rational conversation into an emotional one.” Clearly, you have not followed this issue as closely as you claim. This is not an emotional issue?

      Then you have never spoken to one member of the Friends of the Troy Library who poured heart, soul, and donations into trying to win the November millage. Nor to the current Save Troy organizers, who have gone door-to-door with tireless zeal, explaining to their neighbors the importance of a library to the community.

      You have never read the Books for Walls Project blog, whose writers – though they live 250 miles away – have championed the cause of the Troy Library, not only to the State but in Europe and beyond. You have never read any of the posts on the Letters to the Children of Troy on blogs around the world. You have never read one of the hundreds of comments on the Library’s website.

      You have never stepped foot into the Troy Library to see children streaming in, with their parents unable to catch up. Or the lines of unemployed waiting to register for computer classes.

      And certainly, you have never talked to a Library staff member who has spent the past two years listening to this outpouring of emotion for the Library from the public, while riding her own emotional roller coaster.

      And now your comment seems to be taking credit for some “new” emotional response you have imagined you created: “Today, people are talking. They’re talking online, talking on the phone, and talking over their fence. They’re talking about books and what it means to lose a library.” And you think this is because of you?

      I am appalled.

      You did nothing to help support the Troy Public Library on August 2. All you did was cause confusion that Library supporters have been trying to avoid at all costs, as the previous elections were confused enough. All you did was add more divisiveness and bickering in a community that should be united on its love and need for a library. All you did was violate election laws in pursuit of political satire. And all you did was add no signs on the streets and avenues in Troy where none existed.

      You have done nothing to help support the Troy Library. Do not take any credit from the hardworking women and men who have.

      Next time, I would suggest you try your political theatre in Royal Oak, where your signs claim your office is. Or in Livonia, where your treasurer works. Or in Detroit, where your committee is registered. That would help support the Troy Public Library more.

      Phillip Kwik

      P.S. While I am employed by the Troy Library, these comments reflect my own views.

    4. Spewed up a stream of conscious previously, then lost it, so only I know if this is better or worse.

      So we now know book burner is about saving tlhe library. Is their approach helpful, hurtful, appropriate or not?

      I like the idea that being controversial can raise awareness, attract media, and get people talking. But will they be saying what you want? Some may see book burner's in your face campaign as a green light to release their own bigotry, maybe not about the concept of a library, but instead it's free nature. (Diversion interlude for the mom, Irish man singing Rick springfield's jesse's girl on glee project.) the letter worries me, I hear ego about having a better campaign, rather than commendations that save Troy library had already put in some hard yards. When a community is at risk Brian queer as folk ego needs to take a back seat. Community campaigns lose when they splinter, people vote for strength and a clear message. Why didn't book burner contact the library it wants to save and already existing campaig? To discuss the best use of their energies and to coordinate efforts? The way they have entered this situation has alienated people and caused confusion. Clarification doesn't even seem to be something they wish to readily supply. Will Troy residents feel they have been disparaged as bigots due to the book burning term? The issue of free libraries is too important to get this campaign wrong.

      In less than a decade troy will feel the adverse effects of being without a public library. A generation of children will grow up in a community where the free access to information, learning and imagination is not valued. Libraries are closing across the world and there is no excuse for this destruction of people's liberties. But do Americans know that many beyond your borders laugh at your nation for your insular thinking, and think Americans quite unintelligent. I know this is not true of all, but closing libraries could very well make it so. Society provides so few places where everyone is welcome. What society do we want to live in?

      So book burner work with others, pool your resources, win this fight together. Then everyone stay together and raise money for the library instead of campaigns, so that one day Troy library will never need to campaign again.

      In solidarity
      Carolyn in Brisbane.

    5. Shame on you8:17 PM

      This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    6. Shame on You... shame on you, this blog is run by two wonderful children with help from supportive adults -not political in the sense you refer to; simply library lovers.

      We have a policy that anonymous posts can and will be deleted --if the content does not relate to our simple book loving mission: "to support literacy, libraries and book love."

      Please feel free to contact us if you have other issues --our email address is listed on our website.