The Blacktip Island Bibliophile Society hopes a book burning and bar-b-q event this weekend will raise enough money to rebuild and stock a new library on the small Caribbean island. (photo courtesy of Herring Frye/BIBS)
The Blacktip Island Community Bibliophile Society will host a Fahrenheit 451-themed “It Was A Pleasure To Burn” book-burning ceremony and bar-b-q cookout Saturday evening to raise funds to rebuild the Caribbean island’s lending library, destroyed by fire last year.
“We can’t be a proper library without a building. And books,” Society chair Herring Frye said. “We tried literary readings and bake sales, but no one came. We had to do something flashy to get folks’ attention.
“We finally thought since fire destroyed the old library, maybe it could help build the new one, Frye said. “Then we hit on the idea of us dressing up as Fahrenheit 451 firemen, and got all kinds of attention. The book lovers are howling, and we already have a big pile of books people dropped off for us to burn.”
Society members concurred.
“We’re not torching great literature,” co-chair Elena Havnes said. “It’s mostly out of date scuba manuals and old phone books. And a disturbing number of Justin Bieber biographies. Several people suggested burning science books, too, since they’re so little-used these days, but we drew a line in the sand at that.
“We’re asking people to leave a monetary donation when they drop off unwanted books,” Havens said. “They’ll get one lottery ticket for every dollar they donate, and at the end of the night we’ll draw a ticket at random. The winner will have the new study carrel named after them.”
Critics decried the event.
“Sure, it’s for a good cause, but it trivializes book burnings,” resident Harry Wrasse said. “This sends a horrific message to our children, too, that burning books is a legitimate action. The end doesn’t justify these means.
“If they light any books, we’ll be there with water buckets to put an end to it,” Wrasse said.
Others questioned the need for a library.
“This is the 21st Century,” resort owner Rich Skerritt said. “We don’t need books. We have the internet. If Herring and Elena want to raise money, they should do it for an ad campaign to get more people to Blacktip Island.”
Society members were quick to defend the library and the event.
“The library’s about more than books,” Havens said. “Every great community has a library at its heart. That was the one place on Blacktip where people could gather that wasn’t a bar or restaurant. It was our public space. Our piazza, if you will. Regaining that’s worth losing a few unwanted books. We’re not the bad guys here.”
Admission is $4.51. For an additional $20, attendees may toss a book on the burn pile. Donations of diesel fuel are greatly appreciated.