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January 31, 2014

Stillwater Public Library preps for reading program

STILLWATER, Okla. — The Stillwater Public Library is working with Oklahoma State University for this year’s One Book, One Community program featuring Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

Allied Arts at OSU contacted Lynda Reynolds, library manager of the Stillwater Public Library, about partnering together to get the community involved with the program. The library partnered with Allied arts in 2009 for the community reading program of To Kill A Mockingbird.

“That was successful back then, so we're going to do it again,” Reynolds said.

Allied Arts is bringing in Aquila Theatre to perform Fahrenheit 451 and OSU and the public library are putting on multiple programs to go along with the reading. Programs include several films, fire education, censorship lectures and discussion groups. 

Fahrenheit 451, written in 1953, deals with a dystopian society, where the world is not what readers consider to be the norm. It discusses censorship and book burning.

“I think the book definitely still has relevance in today’s age,” Reynolds said. “We still need to talk about censorship, privacy issues, the importance of learning and the importance of reading.”

Although society’s version of firemen are men who put out fires and not men who burn books, Bradbury makes several predictions about technology that have come true. He writes about seashell ear buds that people use to listen to someone else talking and big televisions on the wall.

“It’s kind of neat to see something that was written 60 years ago, and some of the things that he predicted technologically have actually come about,” Reynolds said.

Among the films shown during the program will be an anime movie and The Hunger Games. Like Fahrenheit 451, The Hunger Games also has a dystopian theme.

“The Hunger Games is kind of along those themes of where society is kind of taking control in not such a good way,” Reynolds said.

The kickoff event will be at 6:30 p.m. Monday. The kickoff will include a seven-minute interview clip with Bradbury and a dramatic reading by students from Stillwater High School’s theater department. Reynolds said she hopes this will encourage more students to take part in the program.

This is the sixth communitywide reading event held in Stillwater. The program is a way to connect the community of Stillwater through a shared reading experience.

“We’re hoping that it just stimulates conversation,” Reynolds said. “That people come together from all backgrounds and all ages to talk about the book and the themes in the book and what does that provoke.”

The program began in 2007 with the Grapes of Wrath and there has been one every year since, with the exception of 2008.

Reynolds is expecting 700 to 800 community members to participate. Previous community reading events have brought as many as 2,000 participants.

“Of course each one is different so you never know exactly what is going to bring people out,” Reynolds said.

The Stillwater Public Library has copies of Fahrenheit 451, funded by the Library Trust, to give away at the kickoff event for participants who sign up for a discussion group. The Edmon Low Library also has a small amount of free books available to those who sign up on the OSU campus.

“Anything we have left over after the kickoff event we can just give to people that stop by the library,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds is looking to hold another community reading event in the fall for True Grit. The Sheerar Museum, a partner for One Book, One Community, is planning a True Grit exhibit. Oklahoma is also encouraging a statewide reading of the novel.

“I’m going to see if we can do our share and see if we can make that happen,” Reynolds said.

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