Because public libraries cater to both adults and children they have to walk a fine line between access and censorship, purchasing certain materials that aren’t appropriate for all ages but also restricting access to them. And if there’s a question about whether something should be available to any patrons regardless of age or whether it should only be available to adults or with a guardian’s permission then libraries usually have ways of dealing with that, but it usually requires consulting staff and coming to a group decision.
Two Lexington, Kentucky public library workers, though, decided to sidestep all that and took it upon themselves to remove The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier from the shelves. And they didn’t just remove it. The Beat explains how they
colluded to keep the book out of circulation — Cook, who had become disturbed by the book’s imagery, checked it out for a year, meaning no one else could check it out. However, when an 11-year-old girl put it on hold, Cook was unable to continue her delaying tactic — and Boisvert stepped in, removing the hold, and keeping the book out of circulation.
I have to admit checking a book out for any length of time is a clever way of keeping it out of someone else’s hands. That’s one of the disadvantages of print books. From the article, though, it sounds like Cook has succeeded in keeping the book out of the hands of any other patrons. She has not returned it and is “still carrying it around in her knapsack, the dirty parts marked with post-its.”
Both library workers have been fired, by the way. And click here if you want to see one of the pictures that was so disturbing.