David Trinko: Lima library videos poke fun at classics

May 18—When you think back to the books you read in school, perhaps you've thought of one of them this way.

"All I remember really is that a bunch of British school kids go camping," the Lima Public Library's Ezra Hyman says succinctly.

The library's Liz Winhover responds, "That about sums it up — badly."

So goes one of the episodes of "School Book Roast," a new series of videos the library posts on its Tik Tik (bit.ly/3wttHTC) and Facebook (bit.ly/4brYLlJ) pages, teasing away some of the more remarkable details of that 1954 classic, "Lord of the Flies," by William Golding.

It's an intriguing and entertaining way of looking at those stories we all had to read in school, teasing away details that sometimes show just how strange these classics can be. Roasts, where you poke at relatively minor details in a good-natured way, are all the rage these days.

After all, "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen is basically about people despising one another until they fall in love, right? At least that seemed to be the takeaway of Andrew in his episode, reading items from his clearly labeled "Things I Hate" notebook.

The library staff began creating the videos last month after a weekly series of punny videos about library life ran its course, said Winhover, the head of public relations and a five-year employee at the library. How many ways can you say you're supposed to be quiet, after all? (They say silence is a library stereotype the Lima Public Library doesn't strictly enforce, by the way.)

"We were just kicking around some ideas of what we should do for a series," she said. "We all had to read the same books in school, right? And we're all traumatized by them."

It's an opportunity to poke fun and be honest about the classics, said Hyman, a native New Yorker who hits his two-year anniversary at the library next month.

"You find when you're in school, you're basically told this is a great book you're supposed to enjoy. It has a really important meaning, whether you agree with it or not. You have to say that you think these things," Hyman said. "We can say all the problems with the artist's good work. It's just a complete 180, and it's a lot of fun.

"I remember one of the books we roasted, 'Lord of the Flies,' I remember I really did enjoy it, but then just criticizing all these points, it's just fun."

You only tease those you love, right?

The goal of the series is to attract more attention to the library and what it provides, said Winhover and Hyman. Tik Tok tends to draw a younger demographic, and Hyman admitted some people recognized him out in public, making him "Tik Tok famous."

They're always looking for different books to roast. Each week, they reveal which book they'd roasted the prior week, although viewers share their guesses in the comments. I'd love to hear them show people how potentially violent and fear-inducing "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White, a supposed children's book, really was.

"We're hoping people will just kind of see the library's name and be reminded that we're still here," Winhover said.

It's also a good way to build community, one of the goals of the library's leadership.

"The library is no longer just a place to quietly read books," Hyman said. "It's a place to get help on the computer, to use space for a meeting room, somewhere where the internet and mobile hotspots are huge. I think the tech talks reflect we're not just here for folks, we're trying to make it fun with our programs."


See past columns by David Trinko at LimaOhio.com/tag/trinko.

David Trinko is editor of The Lima News. Reach him at 567-242-0467, by email at dtrinko@limanews.com or on Twitter @Lima_Trinko.