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Friday, June 15, 2012

When the book is controversial


Every once in a while a controversial book comes along. Sometimes it’s the subject matter; other times the writing that’s controversial. The controversial book for libraries right now is “Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy." I’m certain you’ve heard of it. You may have read it. But does it belong in the library?
Great question. Librarians make the decision to purchase or not based on reviews, collection development policies, community interests, and other factors. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is controversial because of its erotic subject matter and use of erotic language. “Wait” you say, “there are plenty of Romance books that are pretty erotic and use pretty steamy language. There must be something else going on in the book to make it controversial.” According to the article in @ Your Library, there’s more to this story. Take time to read the article, what the short news report, and some book reviews and you decide. http://atyourlibrary.org/libraries-center-fifty-shades-grey-controversy

“Fifty Shades of Grey” is not the only controversial book. “The Dirty Cowboy" by Amy Timberlake  is also in the news. This is a children’s story about a cowboy in need of a bath. The cowboy’s dog steals his clothes while he is bathing by a stream. There are lots of cute pictures in this children’s book, and a little nudity. Would you ban this book? PA School District Bans 'The Dirty Cowboy' for Partial Nudity School Library Journal May 24, 2012 http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/home/894620-312/pa_school_district_bans_the.html.csp

There’s no right or wrong answer. Your decision as librarian or library director depends upon many factors. Remember, the ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom is there to help you respond to requests to remove books from the library.

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