Why is race still such a powerful subject in America?  How have librarians been portrayed, both positively and negatively, in Hollywood films?  How can sensitive subjects such as sex, teen pregnancy and abortion be interpreted for young readers?  Those issues will be examined during presentations and a film screening sponsored by Illinois State’s Milner Library during April and May.  All events are free and open to the public.

Marc Aronson, historian and author of books for young adults, will discuss his newest book, Race: A History Beyond Black & White on Tuesday, April 8 at 2 p.m. on the Main Floor of Milner Library.  His presentation will also include ample opportunity for questions and interaction with audience members.  His book examines why people still make judgments about others based on race, even though they claim to have no prejudices.  Aronson also explores the history of race and race prejudice in the West dating back to ancient times.

Aronson’s other books for young readers include Robert F. Kennedy: Crusader, The Real Revolution: The Global Story of American Independence, Witch-Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials and Sir Walter Raleigh and the Quest for El Dorado.

A special screening of the first full-length documentary about the work and lives of librarians will be held on Tuesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the Normal Theatre in Normal.  Using the context of American movies, The Hollywood Librarian: A Look at Librarians Through Film critiques Hollywood’s sometimes positive, sometimes negative portrayal of librarians and contrasts those portrayals with the stories of real-life librarians.  Issues of censorship, intellectual freedom, children and librarians, pay equity and the value of reading are also examined throughout the film.

Admission to The Hollywood Librarian is free but donations will be accepted to support the Eunice H. Speer Scholarship Fund to assist students in the newly approved library science program at Illinois State.  For more information about the film visit www.hollywoodlibrarian.com

Author Marilyn Reynolds will present “Realistic Teen Fiction: Meeting the Challenge” on Wednesday, April 30, at 4:30 p.m. on the Main Floor of Milner Library. The discussion will center on the challenges of tackling subjects such as sexual abuse and teen pregnancy in books geared toward young readers. Reynolds is the author of a popular series of books about high school students who must face up to their fears or accept responsibility for actions in the face of painful life situations.  She will also discuss the censorship that authors encounter when writing about such subjects.

Her books include Telling, the story of a 12-year-old molestation victim; Love Rules, about a young woman’s decision to come out of the closet while in high school; Beyond Dreams, a series of short stories about young people coping with peer pressure, racism, school failure and other challenges; and Detour for Emmy, the story of a successful high school student whose life changes dramatically when she becomes pregnant.

On Thursday, May 1, the 2008 Bryant Jackson Lectureship speaker will be Ann Seidl, writer and director of The Hollywood Librarian. Seidl will discuss the film in the Bone Student Center Old Main Room at 2 p.m.  She is a library consultant and the owner and principal of Information, Managed, a library consulting business that provides library research and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) analysis products to libraries and library systems.

The Bryant Jackson Lectureship was established in 2003 to honor Associate University Librarian Bryant Jackson. The lectureship is an annual event with speakers of the highest reputation in library research.