Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Controversy at my public library.

Tonight my local library branch made the news, along with a book by Zane.

It turns out that a teenager brought home a book, written/edited? by the author, Zane (no linky-- that website is just plain painful on the eyes!), that contained graphic sexual content. The mother was not happy -- obviously, since it made the late night news.

" JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The good news is that local teenagers are going to the library more often.

But what are they reading once they get there?

Parents have been surprised to find what their teenagers are reading nowadays.

Adult romance novels are popular among teenagers.

These aren’t your typical boy meets girl stories necessarily, but stories that describe graphic sexual encounters.

You would think the last place your child would be exposed to graphic sex is your local library.

Roberta Maddox, a local mother, feels the same way.

She is still mad over what she found when her 16-year-old daughter brought some books back from the Pablo Creek branch of the Jacksonville Library.

Maddox believes “this is just the kind of stuff we're trying to protect our kids from in society today, and here she's able to just grab it off the shelf at the library with no one there to keep it away from them.”

The library says it has teen sections and plenty of staff to help guide young readers to appropriate material.

A warning label system has not yet been considered."
On a personal note, this is not the only erotic romance on the shelf at Pablo Creek - I was pleasantly surprised to pick up Diane Whiteside's Irish Devil (I think I saw one of the follow up stories too). Pablo creek also has a separate children's section -- as in not even in the same main room, and also a separate wall of teen books in the fiction, along with a separate teen computer/meet&greet/holds teen shelving room that is in a glassed off section from the main library. Teens and children are well catered for at this particular library.

Maddox makes a valid point in one respect with the notion that graphic sexual content should be monitored for minors, yet at the same time I couldn't quite gauge the angle the live news report took. Were they reporting from the point of view that sex holds no place in a public library, or not? I'm not quite sure. They also made no comment as to the genre label on the spine - they showed a hardback, and they didn't show a direct close up to verify if it was labelled with romance/erotic/aphrodisia etc.

In the broadcast interview Maddox makes the comparison to liquor and cigarettes -- that they have enforceable age limitations so she doesn't have to worry about her daughter being able to purchase them, because legally she can't. But does that apply to sex? Of course there are legal limitations to the act itself, but reading about it? You might have more luck outlawing second hand smoke in a dedicated smoking section.

I appreciate the mother's point-of-view on one hand, yet as an author, and particularly in the same erotic romance genre, I can't help but disagree.

It begs the question, what would be classed as graphic? As time progresses, even standard romance lines are becoming less purple, and more bedroom doors are being left open, where does a graphic classification begin and end? Does it start with throbbing love muscle and aching moist cavern, head on past Penis and Vagina, and end at Cock and Pussy?

If her complaint merits change, what kind of censorship precedent will it set for the library system in general?

I'll update as soon as I can find the relevant web news page -- the Fox 30 new site runs a news broadcast behind, I believe. ** Updated with the links and content

*** Yes, Jacksonville - the home of the infamous Hooha Monologues kerfluffle.


Mechele Armstrong said...

I'm in agreement with you.

It sounds like the 16 year old went into the adult section. Which I used to do all the time.

I don't rely on the library to--I want to say police but not sure if that's right--my children, I do it myself. Right now they are both little, but even at 16, I wouldn't rely on the library. If I didn't feel the book checked out was appropriate for my child, I'd return it. Simple end of matter.

I think when the library starts limiting content or even blocking sections, well, we all have different opinions on what's appropriate. How many parents have you heard of who didn't think Harry Potter was? Suppose a library stuck that behind closed doors?

Anonymous said...

Wow. A 16 year old girl read a book that had sex scenes - what a deviant.
Good for her - judging by her mother's reaction the only way the poor kid is going to learn about sex is from what she reads in romance novels. Let's just hope she steers clear of Cassie Edwards novels.

Anonymous said...

Mommie Fearest should be glad the poor kid is just reading. Hands on experimentation will be next--unless it's happened already. Sounds like the kid's going to get knocked up or catch AIDs before mom steps up to the plate on sex education.

16 is an appropriate age for mommy to discuss the facts of life with her little angel. The girl's just as hot and horny as any other 16 y.o. on the planet and evidently curious.

Mom needs to accept that the Disney Princess days are over.

I am against censorship--especially in libraries. It's up to parents to let their kids know what books are age appropriate--not expect some overworked city employee to be their Thought Police.

Cora Zane said...

I'm sorry the mom found out the hard way that her daughter is reading erotica, but is it really so shocking? My 16 year old knows what he is and isn't allowed to read, watch, etc. Does that mean I trust him not to sneak around my back and try to get his hands on it anyway? Uh, reminder: he's 16!

This is not anyone's fault really. Teens are curious; parents want to trust their kids. Sure, some could say it's the fault of the library staff for allowing her to check out the book, but you have to take into consideration that most library staff don't know Zane from Graham Greene.

Likely they didn't know what the girl was checking out when she brought the book up to the desk. No need for pitchforks or erotica book burnings. No need to go on some multi-million dollar flogging campaign of the publishing industry either. The could print SEX, SEX, SEX all over the cover of a book and the library staff could still miss it. They see how many hundreds of books each day?

This kind of check-out faux pas could easily be resolved by the LIBRARY taking charge of their stock. It could be something as simple as placing huge, hot pink stickers that say ADULT on the page they must scan/stamp to check-out the book. That way when the librarian opens the cover, they'll see the sticker. They can then look at the person checking out the book and make a judgement call.

briddie said...

Yeah, and the kid doesn't drink or smoke either. Right. Oh, wait, I forgot. Kids only experiment with sex if you tell them about it; if they don't have sex education they won't even know that sex exists.

Ann said...

WIth any luck she's only reading about sex and not actually having it. Personally I don't mind 16 year olds reading about sex, I read bodice rippers at that age, I just wish they'd bring them back when they're done. We can't keep Zane on the shelves, all our copies are lost or missing.

poetryman69 said...

As I am not a parent I will leave the proper rearing of children to those of you who are. But as for all that obligatory moral outrage out there-- Let me say: Wait a minute. Are you saying that Janet's performance is the very first time the innocent among us ever saw a woman's breast? Hmmmm.