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The Ferguson Public Library Director Went Online to Take Questions. When a Famous Author Saw What Was Happening, He Did Something 'Awesome.


"Let me just say, on behalf of the library and Ferguson..."

Image via Twitter

Yes, Ferguson, Missouri, has a public library and yes, the director took to the internet to answer questions.

On Saturday, Ferguson Public Library director Scott Bonner hopped on Reddit to do an "Ask Me Anything" session, and as he told curious commenters more about his town, he got at least one unexpected present from a famous author.

Image via Twitter (Image via Twitter)

Many commenters wanted to know more about life in Ferguson, so Bonner sketched out life in the town of 21,000 — a life which he said was not nearly as disrupted as national media might make one think:

When protests and police response are happening in the middle of the night along one half-mile stretch of West Florissant, or by the police station, the media makes it sound like all of Ferguson is a war zone, all the time. It's not. It's safe during the day. Businesses are open. People walking around, chatting with each other, just normal town stuff.

It's so much more complicated than the media shows us. Sometimes I think it is infinitely complicated, and no one could ever explain what it is really like.

When he was asked about what books were most popular at the library, Bonner responded:

Fault in Our Stars. City of Bones series. Books that were in our gay pride display. Books that were in our gra[p]hic novel display. Scifi/romance crossover stuff.

And then something unexpected happened: a response came in from author John Green's Reddit account:

Hi hi! John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars here. Signed copies of all my books headed your way!

(Image via L/flickr) (Image via L/flickr)

As Green's comment received thousands of upvotes, Bonner said, "Let me just say, on behalf of the library and Ferguson, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"

The thread was flooded with comments such as, "aw :-) this made me smile," and "John, you're awesome."

Here are a few other nuggets from Bonner's AMA:

  • The Ferguson Public Library's annual budget is $400,000.
  • The library didn't have any "civil unrest" policy in place before August's riots broke out. Bonner wrote, "I've had to thread some needles in trying to determine things like how to pay staff when library is closed, how to handle it when staff call in to say they won't come to work because they are scared, that sort of thing."
  • Bonner said the library only closed on one day, August 11 (two days after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown) due to Ferguson's unrest, though he added that the library was only open for half of the day on the Tuesday after the grand jury announcement that Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Brown, would not face a trial.

Bonner had this to say of the future of his community:

[P]eople come together when they have a common cause. At the library, when the kids needed us, people came from all over, from all sides of the situation, from all race[s] and economic strata, to help.

Because the people of Ferguson are willing to wrestle with their problems seriously, I believe we can, and WILL, come together in the end. We have to.

Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter

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