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A few weeks ago, we reported on one Margaret Barbaree, who wanted all manga removed from the public library in her hometown of Crestview, Florida. Ms. Barbaree’s complaint evoked hoots of derision, and some rather unkind personal attacks, from across the blogosphere, but in the end, things may have worked out well for everyone.
Barbaree filed over 200 challenges to individual books in the Crestview library, asking that they be removed from the shelves, and she argued her case in a news piece (scroll down to the July 9 video) for the local cable station. While she may not have been the most articulate spokesperson, her crusade brought up some issues worth discussing. On the one hand, libraries should not have to restrict their collections to books suitable for a five-year-old, and individuals should not be able to dictate what all the patrons of the library can read; on the other hand, it’s reasonable to keep younger readers away from the more lurid adult graphic novels. In fact, the library had already shelved the books Barbaree complained about in the adult section, but now it has created a separate teen room and moved the adult and teen books farther apart. This seems to bring the Crestview library solidly into the 20th century—did they not have a teen room before? Still, they seem to have done a nice job of it, getting the teens involved and taking the opportunity to jettison their collection of VHS tapes (which probably got them a few more irate letters, but there’s no pleasing everyone). More importantly, everyone’s problems were solved without resorting to the nuclear option of removing all graphic novels from the library, and that’s a lesson that some other library districts could learn from—including the Wicomico, Maryland, school system, where Dragon Ball has been banned from all school libraries, including the middle and high schools (the first volume carries a Teen rating, according to the Viz website).