One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads Fahrenheit 451 sparks discussion about censorship beginning Feb. 3

series flyer(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Jan. 8, 2014) ––Organizations across Stillwater are partnering to present the sixth community-wide reading event, “One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads Fahrenheit 451.” The six week series, sponsored by Stillwater Public Library, Edmon Low Library and Sheerar Museum, includes scholarly presentations, book discussions, films with commentary and theatrical productions. The series kicks off Monday, Feb. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in the Stillwater Public Library.

“We hold One Book, One Community to bring together people from all parts of the population,” said Lynda Reynolds. “This particular series is special to us because Fahrenheit 451 explores themes like censorship and the freedom to read.  These events will help our community better understand Ray Bradbury’s classic novel and the importance of the book to our lives today.”

"Fahrenheit 451" was published in 1953 to wide acclaim. In it, author Ray Bradbury describes an America where learning is discouraged, television and pop-culture is revered and books are forbidden.  Neighbors report on neighbors, families turn each other in and firemen are called to incinerate the homes of renegades who dare to read.  The novel was an instant hit and has been in print ever since, making Bradbury one of America’s preeminent dystopian authors.

“It is easy to sit back and think that the world Bradbury created could never happen here,” said Reynolds. “But the threat of censorship is very real and something we must constantly monitor. In the past decade, over 5000 challenges to books were reported to the American Library Association.”

According to Reynolds, some of the most challenged books over the past year included modern classics like “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “The Glass Castle” by Jeanette Walls and “Beloved” by Toni Morrison.  A full list of frequently challenged books can be viewed on the ALA website at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10.

“Challenges are not the same as an institution actually banning a book,” said Reynolds. “But librarians are vigilant about tracking these challenges all the same, because they are more than just the expression of someone’s point of view.  They are very real attempts to restrict other people’s right to access material.  It is something with which we are always concerned.”

Reynolds hopes that the programs scheduled throughout the series will lead citizens to reflect more deeply on their freedom to learn and to read.

“We are fortunate enough to be able to take reading for granted most of the time,” said Reynolds.  “We use events like this series to explore the community’s feelings about the big issues that affect all of us.  The programs we’ve scheduled are meant to help community members examine how they feel about topics like censorship, privacy and individual rights.”

The schedule of programs starts with a Kick-off featuring a Reader’s Theatre by Stillwater High School students and an introduction to Fahrenheit 451 by Timothy Murphy, OSU Professor of English.  Prior to the presentations, participants will be able to pick up free copies of Fahrenheit 451 which were purchased courtesy of the Stillwater Public Library Trust and Friends of the OSU Library.

“Free copies of the book will be distributed to everyone who signs up for a book discussion,” said Reynolds.  “Our discussions are always the highlight of the series.  Readers have a chance to meet people from across the community and share their views with other readers, which gives everyone a much richer understanding of the book.”

Readers may choose from one of the following seven scheduled discussions:

  • Feb. 17, 6:30 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library. This discussion includes readings from Fahrenheit 451 during the library’s monthly Sewing Circle.
  • Feb. 20, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Barbara Miller
  • Feb. 27, 10:30 a.m. at the City of Stillwater Senior Center led by Pat Jaynes
  • Feb. 28, noon at Sheerar Museum, 702 S. Duncan, led by Gladeen Allred
  • Mar 4, 2:30 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library led by Lynda Reynolds
  • Mar 5, noon at Sheerar Museum led by Pat Jaynes
  • Mar 10, 6 p.m. at McAlisters, 205 E. Hall of Fame, led by Nicole Sump-Crethar

Other events scheduled throughout February and March include:

  • Saturday, Feb. 8, 2p.m. at Stillwater Public Library - a screening and discussion of the anime feature “Metropolis” for teens and general public.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 11, 11 a.m. at Stillwater Public Library - An Osher Lifelong Learning Institute presentation of “Firewise Community” by Fire Marshall Trent Hawkins.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30 p.m. at OSU Library Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room - Science Cafe: Hot! Fire Research at OSU.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. at Stillwater Public Library - “Popular Intolerance and Political Cowardice: Steppingstones to a Fahrenheit 451 Future” by Joey Senat, Associate Professor, OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications.
  • Monday, Feb. 24, 3:30 pm at OSU Willard Hall Room 010 - Panel discussion “Censorship and Book Banning in Schools.”
  • Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:30 pm at Stillwater Public Library - “Who’s Watching You? Maintaining Privacy in a Terrorist’s World” a World Cafe forum by Stillwater Speaks.
  • Friday, March 7, time and place TBA - “Physical Theatre Masterclass” for advanced high school and/or college students or adults. Limited enrollment and pre-registration required.
  • Friday, March 7, 7 p.m. at Seretean Center, Room 123 - “Inside Story,”
    a free lecture presented by the Aquila Theatre touring company. Limited enrollment and pre-registration required.
  • Friday, March 7, 8 p.m. at OSU Seretean Center Concert Hall - “Aquila Theatre presents Fahrenheit 451.” Tickets $15/adult, $8.00/OSU students and student groups of 25 or more.
  • Thursday, March 13, 6:30 p.m. At Stillwater Public Library - Fahrenheit 451, Film Screening and discussion by Tim Prchal, OSU Visiting Professor of English.
  • Sunday, March 16, 1:30 p.m. At Stillwater Public Library - “The Hunger Games,” film screening and discussion.

All One Book, One Community events are free and open to the public with the exception of “Aquila Theatre presents Fahrenheit 451” on March 7.

For more information, visit the Stillwater Public Library web site, at library.stillwater.org, email askalibrarian@stillwater.org or call 405-372-3633.

Additional partners for One Book, One Community include Stillwater Public Library Trust, Friends of the OSU Library, Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, OSU Allied Arts, Stillwater Speaks, Stillwater Schools, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service and City of Stillwater, Oklahoma Quality Printing, Stillwater Newspress, KOSU and the Stillwater Journal.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.).