Signs pop up in Oklahoma City encouraging people to 'close the library'
Mysterious signs have been popping up in the Oklahoma City metro this week calling on residents to vote to “close the library,” on election day and attend a “book burning party,” the following week.
They direct passersby to visit a Facebook page with no information about what to vote on or when or where a party could be held.
It’s unclear what the aim of the signs is, but there is nothing related to Oklahoma City’s Metropolitan Library System on the November ballot.
At least a half dozen signs have been spotted in North Oklahoma City, Edmond and the Village, said the library system’s Director of Communications Angel Suhrstedt. She said there’s no reason to fear losing libraries in Oklahoma City.
“Libraries are here to provide intellectual freedom for communities,” Suhrstedt said. “We represent the entire community, no matter what you think.”
The signs have certainly generated buzz on social media with pictures popping up on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
They appear to borrow language from a 2012 blitz advertising campaign in Troy, Michigan. That campaign was run by Chicago advertising agency Leo Burnett and was an exercise in reverse psychology to drive voters to the polls in support of a local tax increase to ensure the library stayed open.
The referendum did pass in support of the library, though one library employee criticized it for creating more divisiveness in the community, according to Bloomberg.
If — in the likely case — that’s what’s happening here, Suhrstedt said, it’s not helpful.
“We live in a confusing time,” she said. “I don't want to make anyone any more confused by not having all the information.”
StateImpact sent a message to the page to ask for more information and to request an interview with organizers and got this response:
“We're a group of ‘Patriots,’” an anonymous administrator of the page wrote. “Time to do what’s right for America. All these weak ‘woke’ people aren’t good for our county! [sic] We aren’t organized that way. We’re just people we don’t do TV. We don’t want anybody pushing their personal agenda on TV!”
In a followup message, the person wrote: “If you vote in the superintendent race for the right guy. We can get these libraries closed.”
That appears to be a reference to Republican candidate and Secretary of Education Ryan Walters, the only male candidate running for state superintendent against Democrat Jena Nelson.
When asked about the similarities between the campaign to “close the library,” in Oklahoma City and Michigan, the page responded:
“I’ve never been to Michigan. I don’t know what they do in Michigan. They sure have a good football teams!” [sic] "😜"