On Friday, I received a message on Facebook from one of my aunts, telling me that our library system back home had decided to remove 50 Shades of Grey from library shelves. Then Andy Woodworth posted on the same topic this weekend.
As a former denizen of Brevard County and avid patron of its libraries, I was saddened to hear this news. My aunt, mother of a precocious thirteen-year-old who reads everything she can get her hands on, was concerned not that her daughter would find this book and be Scarred For Life but that this would set a precedent for removal of books which, in our experience, Brevard hasn’t had a problem with in the past. Believe me when I say that there are many, many more books on BCPL shelves as racy or racier than 50 Shades of Grey. My own mother would likely be horrified to know what I was getting from the lib when I was a teenager, but no one with any sense wants to see a pointless crackdown on books containing “adult” material.
When I found that the purchasers apparently hadn’t done any investigation into the book’s theme or topics before buying seventeen copies, I became annoyed as well. Is it really possible that the system is not aware of the massive hubbub surrounding this book? Outraged or titillated reviews online and in newspapers are a dime a dozen; you can even find juicy excerpts. Obviously the purchasers don’t have time to read every book they intend on buying, but a bare grasp of what a book is about should be par for the course, especially when–I assume–patrons are clamoring for a certain title.
I’d be interested to find out what the policy is for selection in the first place–knowing as I do (and as Andy’s post points out) some of the other naughty titles in the Brevard system, it seems that erotica in general isn’t problematic. Also on the policy note, what is the policy in place for reconsidering materials purchased? If none of the Powers That Be read the book before buying, did they read it when they were deciding whether to pull it off the shelves?