The following are transcriptions of audio notes of Dave Cooper, ALA Accreditation Coordinator, as he toured the Geraldine Godson Banned Memorial Library and Farmer’s Market, also known as the Banned Library, in the summer of 2013. Mr. Cooper was sent to Bannville, Mississippi to vet the accreditation standards of the local library school, the Banned County Polytechnic and Library School. The Banned Library is the local public library in the community and also serves as the library for the college, and as such also had to be vetted by Mr. Cooper. We thank Mr. Cooper’s surviving family for allowing us to publish these notes unedited.
Diane, you would be fascinated. I arrived in Bannville, Mississippi about ten minutes ago and attempted to locate the campus of the Bannville Polytechnic and Library School, but was unable to do so. Ended up at an old saw mill. Directions wrong? Need to check that, we can’t be that wrong in the future.
I have located the center of town. A small, bustling rural southern town, Bannville is attempting to revitalize the center square area with what appears to be a renaissance fair. Get your bodice ready because I am gonna bring back a turkey leg for you and the little one.
This is not a renaissance fair, Diane. The gathering seems to be an Occupy movement of the downtown area in order protest the city council’s indecision about building a new public library facility after the old library burned down earlier this year.
I was directed to the temporary home of the Banned Library by a man named Byron. Two mobile home trailers house the library, sitting in a lot across the street from the town square and next to the remains of the old library. Smoke rises from the broken building... Odd. Diane, remind me to research if bricks can smolder months after burning...
I was greeted by Evan Banned, reference librarian to the Banned Library. Mr. Banned apologized for the library school’s inefficient directions. I was unimpressed by the man himself, a tall figure with blonde hair in need of a cutting and clothes that have never seen an iron. It is my understanding he was at the center of the incidents that lead to the original library burning down.
Mr. Banned lead me through the “main” library, the trailer designated to house the small collection of fiction and nonfiction areas. I questioned his ability to staff and maintain the collection, and he joked that without the electric bill of the larger building, money was less of an issue. I did not find this funny and was off put by his light attitude at such a subpar situation.
Mr. Banned ran through the reference services the library provides. The state funded databases as well as the library’s website are hosted off site, so neither of them were affected by the fire. However, the catalog database has had to be rebuilt due to a near total loss of the collection.
Mr. Banned said they had to make an announcement for patrons to not throw library books into the burning wreckage in an effort to return them. I am unsure if he was joking, Diane, remind me to check on that.
The rest of the reference materials were purchased or donated by local merchants, so a basic print ready reference collection as well as a subscription to National Geographic Traveler complements the online reference collection.
While Mr. Banned talked about the collection, I had the feeling I was being watched even though the trailer was empty... Strange.
Mr. Banned then introduced me to Miss Deborina “Debbie” Carnes, the circulation assistant, who will be taking me through the circulation department.