Fifty Shades of Grey banned in Maryland county

May 30, 2012|By Dave Rosenthal

"Fifty Shades of Grey" is selling millions of copies around the world, but it's been banned from libraries of Harford County, Maryland. E.L. James' trilogy, which has been dubbed "mommy porn," for its S&M scenes, is too hot for the county, a typical exurban community along Interstate 95 about a half-hour northeast of Baltimore.

In an email to The Aegis newspaper, materials management administrator Jennifer Ralston wrote:  "In the case of '50 Shades of Grey,' we read mainstream reviews that characterized the content as pornography. The library does not purchase pornography, and we therefore did not purchase the book."

Libraries in other states, including Florida and Wisconsin, have also kept the book off library shelves -- at least temporarily. But other libraries in the Baltimore area are carrying the book -- and demand is high. In Baltimore County, for example, nearly 400 copies of book are out on loan, and there are 1,122 "holds" for the book. 

Here's what the American Library Association says about the "Fifty Shades" controversy: "Where selection decisions are guided by the professional ethics of librarianship – which emphasize inclusion, access, and neutrality – libraries choosing not to purchase materials that fall outside their defined collection policies and needs are not censors.  Where partisan disapproval or doctrinal pressure guides libraries’ decisions to select or remove materials, then censorship can result.

"Materials like “Fifty Shades of Grey” challenge libraries’ professional ideals of open, equitable, unbiased access to information.  They raise important questions about how libraries can best include and reflect the diversity of ideas in our society – even those which some people find objectionable.  In all circumstances, ALA encourages libraries making decisions about their collections to keep in mind their basic missions and the core values of intellectual freedom and providing access to information."

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