One man’s library of banned books from Council Bluffs provides public access to ideas | Entertainment
Rachel George Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil
COUNCIL BLUFFS – Sorensen’s library of banned books is open for business.
A surprise 50th birthday gift from Council Bluffs resident Chris Sorensen, the small free chartered library and the books inside are made available to the public free of charge. All books in the library are selected from lists that various groups have tried to ban from other libraries, Sorensen said.
“The idea is amazing,” he said. “There really is no greater gift you can give someone, especially if it’s a book you’ve read and loved. There really is something special about it. .
Sorensen loves to read and is passionate about sharing books, especially the stories that people have tried to silence in the past.
“It’s important to show people that there’s another side to the story, there are people who don’t believe these books are banned,” Sorensen said. “And, to some extent, it’s a bit of resistance against those who would like to ban books or ask for books to be banned from public or school libraries.”
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Sorensen’s favorite title, “Fahrenheit 451,” is one that often appears on banned book lists. The story’s main character is a firefighter, like Sorensen, except Ray Bradbury’s Dystopian Future depicts firefighters as those who start fires and don’t put them out.
Sorensen is convinced that no book should be banned. He doesn’t believe a book is bad, or necessarily all good.
“I think it’s important to have them available to share,” he said. “Often times groups of people are banned just because they showed up on a list that someone thought didn’t fit their political agenda. Banning a book without reading it and knowing what’s in it find… I think there are thoughts that can be used in any book to develop your own thoughts and your own growth.
Sorensen called the unique gift a “total surprise,” presented to him at a law school graduation celebration for his daughter Alyson. Several of his friends and family members gave him books as gifts.
“Dad loves nothing more than connecting with people through books and bringing people out of his community,” Alyson said.
A website had been set up with a list of suggested titles, and many selected their favorites to send to the Sorensen house.
“To get a whole bunch of books all at once from friends and family — knowing that those books they donated meant something to them — it was really special,” Sorensen said.
The family ordered a Little Free Library kit online and created a private Facebook event, inviting others to participate in the giveaway with book donations.
“We were thinking a lot about the news from last year, censorship in public and private schools across the country,” Alyson said. “Thinking of Dad, his love for reading and his love for ideas, it seemed quite natural that finding a way to buck this trend would be a good gift for him.”
Sorensen also received a personalized stamp, so every book circulating in Sorensen’s Forbidden Books Library carries a piece of it.
“Ideas matter and it only takes one person to protect ideas,” Alyson said. “In my life, if there is going to be one person to protect ideas, it will be Dad. The library is in the front yard where Dad can help make sure the neighborhood kids, or people passing by, have access to books.
Since the Banned Books Library opened last month, Sorensen said he has seen books come and go. He noticed that new books have also been added.
Books can be picked up or dropped off as readers choose. They can be returned, but it is not mandatory.
“I’d rather they keep it or share it with someone else who they think would like to read this book,” he said.
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