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... I have just exited the tent city known as Tent City where the director of the library controls the people. No, that’s not right. He does not control them exactly, but I have the feeling that if pushed the people there would follow him into the depths of hell.
A little background. A few months ago a lone arsonist drove a pickup truck laden with gasoline through the front doors of the library. The library was closed at the time, no one was hurt, but the result was catastrophic. Total destruction of the building and the collection.
With such a horrible act of terrorism, one would expect the city council to jump at the chance to rebuild. The council instead looked at the history of the library and held its decision. And with good reason. Before the arsonist, two librarians were murdered, one ritually sacrificed in the library itself. Then at New Years, the former board of directors were arrested attempting to do what the official reports refer to as a “crazy cult murder thing.”
I’m inclined to agree with the council.
I know what you are thinking, Diane, but I have met these people... They mean well, but strange. So strange. I am almost positive this town would be better off without a library at all.
But that leads us to the present. A few weeks ago, Caleb Montgomery, the director of the Banned Library, began a sit in at the steps of city hall to protest the city’s inaction. Others, mostly from the county wishing to use the library’s internet, began to gather around him. And so we have... this. This Tent City with Mr. Montgomery in the center.
The man seems... the word “serene” comes to mind. He only started here before Christmas of last year but... well, just go back up and read it. Yet he’s hopeful. A true leader, inspiring even. He even talked about his personal issues with a gentle honesty... I hope that if you ever chose to take our little one, I would take it half as well as he.
I have spent the last hour going over the library’s computer systems with Jessie Cartwright, the library’s information technology officer. He reminds me of your brother, Diane, all pale and bones and energy. Sad thing about his cat running away.
Mr. Cartwright did show me the server area and the old library tunnels. Fascinating. Not so much the computers, your basic library computer servers. But the tunnels. Seems while the rest of the country was enduring prohibition in the 1920s, Banned County extended the order to mean “anything illicit for the soul.” Alcohol, opium, dances, music, and even books were prohibited in the city proper. The library and the Banned family in particular took the liberty of installing what are now known as “library tunnels” where materials could be ferried around town without arousing suspicion. The tunnels were abandoned after Prohibition ended, but still exist as storage areas for a few area businesses, especially those around the lot where the smoldering remains of the library stand.
I still have that feeling... Standing in the library tunnels while Jessie talked about the servers, I felt cold. Eyes in the darkness. Cold eyes and darkness staring back at me. Just my imagination, right? Just like the laughter? Children shouldn’t play in those tunnels...