Reading is not a crime

Ray Bradbury is one of my heroes, and my husband and I are handing out Fahrenheit 451 during World Book Night next week. So I was very intrigued by Toronto Public Library’s plans to promote reading via Fahrenheit 451, Toronto’s 2013 “One Book:”

I love several things about this image. How cool to promote a community-wide read as a month-long festival. And what a great integration of theme, artwork, and slogan for a promotion.

But, the coolest thing about Keep Toronto Reading is not that poster. It’s this one:

TorontoARGposter 425x550 Toronto Public Library Enters Alternate Reality (Gaming)

And it’s not really the poster that’s cool (although it is) so much as the thing it is asking Toronto’s residents to do: play KTR 451, an alternate reality game science fiction writer and video game developer Jim Munroe created for the festival. Before you protest that Fahrenheit 451 is all about the dangers a technology-dominated society poses to books and reading, keep in mind that an ARG is not a video game, nor is it conducted entirely online. Munroe explains that an ARG is: “an experience that spans different kinds of media and often involves real world actions. For instance, you might be told via an email to meet your fellow players at Union Station or to watch a video that has clues as to how to solve a mystery.”

Over at BoingBoing, Munroe explains there will be one mission a week for three weeks leading up to a live event. Library Journal notes “players must visit both a physical library branch and the library website, as well as interact with the library on social media. (They can do so from the library computers, ensuring that the digital divide does not prevent some Torontonians from joining the fun.)” The LJ piece goes on to outline the three missions in detail.

Ray Bradbury loved libraries. I imagine he’d love being part of an effort to draw today’s digital natives into their branch libraries. And since one of the missions involves participants gathering evidence of “a time when people loved books unabashedly” — the present — I hope he’d be honored by KTR 451.