Library takes mug shots of banned-book readers for Freedom to Read week

Is a mug shot worth a thousand words?

A Truro, N.S., library has taken a lighthearted approach to a serious issue, allowing people to pose for mug shots to show they've read banned books, during Freedom to Read week.

"We thought it would kind of fun to do mug shots, so people can come in and we made a little fake plaque that says  'Reads banned books' and we take the photos in black and white and then they have a mug shot promoting that they also believe strongly in intellectual freedom," said Megan Cameron, a technology programming assistant at the Truro branch of the Colchester – East Hants Public Library.

Cameron said at midday Saturday that about 30 people have had their mug shots taken, with the event wrapping up at 5 p.m.

'Masterpiece of Satanic deception'

The library also has a shelf of books that have been banned or challenged in Canada and around the world, their covers hidden with pieces of paper explaining why they were deemed unacceptable. They range from outright bans by countries to requests for removal from the library by offended readers.

"You can see people kind of laughing when they see some of the challenged books," Cameron said.

Among the offenders:

- The Harry Potter series, accused of being "a masterpiece of Satanic deception" by a church in New Mexico.

- Lord of the Flies, called "demoralizing, in as much as it implies that man is little more than an animal" by a U.S. high school.

- Hop on Pop, because a reader in Toronto said it "encourages children to use violence against their fathers."

At a local level, Cameron said the library sometimes gets complaints about erotica. She has some advice for offended readers.

"You don't have to read the book," she said. "You can put it back on the shelf."