Robot 6

Kentucky library to move ‘mature’ graphic novels to adult section [Updated]

Black Dossier -- The Absolute Edition

Black Dossier -- The Absolute Edition

A Kentucky library at the center of a controversy involving book access, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier and the firing of two employees will move all of its mature-themed graphic novels to the adult section, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Those graphic novels that belong in the teen section also will be moved.

The decision comes just two weeks after the board of the Jessamine County Public Library heard often-passionate arguments from community members about censorship, responsibility, and acquisition and shelving policies.

The contentious public meeting was spurred by the dismissal in September of two circulation-desk attendants for violating library policy after refusing to allow an 11-year-old girl to check out a copy of Black Dossier, a book they consider pornographic and inappropriate for children.

One of the employees, Sharon Cook, had begun her crusade against the Alan Moore-Kevin O’Neill book almost a year earlier, when she challenged its placement in the library’s graphic-novel section. When official channels failed her, Cook checked out Black Dossier, and kept renewing it, effectively removing it from circulation, until Sept. 21. That’s when she tried to renew the book again, only to discover the computer wouldn’t permit her to do so because the book had been placed on hold. Cook then went to colleague Beth Boisvert on Sept. 22, and the two accessed library computer records, where they found Black Dossier had been reserved by an 11-year-old. They removed the hold, prohibiting the child from checking out the book. The following day they were fired.

As of the November meeting, Cook still had the library’s copy of Black Dossier, and was being charged 10 cents a day in late fees.

Although Boisvert characterized the library’s decision to recatalog mature graphic novels as “very good news,” Cook seemed unimpressed.

“It would appear that the library is trying to soothe its tax base by moving the graphic novels,” Cook told the Herald-leader. “This is a situation that already exists in other libraries and so is not a new nor creative solution. This very simple solution is one step in the right direction. We can hope that this is the first step in JCPL being more responsive to its tax base.”

Update: Lexington’s WTVQ reports that library staff on Tuesday began moving some of the estimated 500 to 600 graphic novels just one row, next to books about comics and drawing. Others are being shifted from the young-adult section to the adult-nonfiction area.

The most interesting (and encouraging) tidbit, however, is this: “Anyone of any age can still check out a book.”

News From Our Partners

Comments

8 Comments

I have this sudden urge to donate graphic novels to this library. Preferably ones that are ambigious as to whether or not they’re “adult-oriented”, so as to force the librarians to read and discuss them at great length.

Totally agree. I was thinking the same thing. Feel like buying as many copies of Black Dossier as I can find and sending them down there.

Cook sees this as a “first step”. Clearly her intention is nothing more and nothing less than the banning of any book she finds objectionable. Her ilk has been spewing this same kind of nonsense for centuries.

They mean Adult, as in, “regular” not Adult as in “porn,” right? I have no problem with the Black Dossier being shelved in fiction– more people browse fiction than “comics”, right?

Ewww. When I first read of this decision yesterday, it was before Cook had responded. In her testimony during her hearing she said she just wanted the book moved. This puts thing in a drastically different light. When she says that it’s neither new nor creative, that’s only because this is a solution that works everywhere else. This quote certainly makes it sound like she’ll only be happy when The Black Dossier is removed from the collection entirely.

But peterson brings up a really important point. Since this whole controversy kicked up, one group I haven’t heard from at all is the local comic book fan community. Where have they been? Where are the local retailers and fans? Why hasn’t somebody else already donated a copy of the book to the library?

Generally, comics, manga, and graphic novels are all shelved together because the patrons looking for them would like to find them all in the same place.

Again, in general, the readers of this large genre are aged anywhere between roughly 9 years old and about 35. A good example of an adult graphic novel/comic/manga might depict heavy sexual situations (intercourse) or extreme violence (heads exploding, being impaled, etc.)

What many people fail to realize is that a) readers tend to choose age-appropriate materials on their own, so that the reader who is 11 will likely want things like Naruto or Fruits Basket, while the older reader wants Sin City; and b) the PUBLIC library has a responsibility to ALL of its constituents to provide a VARIETY of resources for information, education, and YES, even entertainment.

As a librarian, I have moved books for age-appropriate reasons. I have found books in the preschool section that were not being read, because they were more appropriate in subject matter and layout for older children, and once they were moved, they flew off the shelf. Moving of books, in my opinion, should only be done when a librarian realizes that they will circulate with more frequency (reach their audience better). Moving the books out of fear only serves to break up the collection and inconvenience legitimate users, and it also makes the parent’s job more difficult, because when a parent decides their child should not view a genre of books, then that parent has to monitor two areas, instead of one. This “solution” only serves to make things more difficult for everyone in the long run.

I agree with the removal of the staff members, and virtually every public library has a similar policy on patrons’ privacy and the modification of records for personal benefit of a staff member. I applaud the library on this front. I think the next step should have been to educate the community that it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their children though, rather than encourage the cry from parents that “it’s too hard to watch our children all the time.”

No library worker has the right to remove a book or prevent anyone from checking it out. While my personal feeling is no child needs this type of material, it is up to the parent’s to monitor.
To feel that we as an individual can dictate who can read what or not read it or is apalled at what is on library shelves has no business working in a library. Possibly not even with the public at all. There are all kinds of mindsets in our world, who of us can play god? Oops! I apologize for my usage of the word god to those who have a different mindset than I do.

It’s time for the library to brand Ms Cook as a scofflaw for willfully holding onto a book months beyond the due date. In libraries where I’ve worked, there’s a 30-day maximum set for the daily fines, then the patron is charged for the cost of the book in addition to the accumulated fines. If the book isn’t returned, her library card would be blocked so she can’t check out any more materials. In some cases, a collection agency may be set on her to get the book returned or the fines plus cost of the book paid. If not, she should be charged with felony theft and treated like the criminal she is.

Leave a Comment

 



Browse the Robot 6 Archives