Libraries in the Farmington Valley aren’t encouraging or discouraging young readers from checking out copies of Fifty Shades of Grey, the steamy novel about the relationship between a young, successful businessman and a recent college graduate that has been a popular choice on e-readers, at bookstores and at libraries this summer.
Officials from libraries across the valley said they take care to keep the novel out of children and teen sections but do not censor the choices of library patrons, noting that libraries function as a public service and parents need to be aware of the books and other items that their children select.
“It’s the parents’ responsibility [to know what their children are reading],” said Avon Free Public Library Director Virginia Vocelli, echoing a sentiment shared by other library officials in the valley.
The Library Bill of Rights guides decisions and policy for a majority of libraries and many Farmington Valley librarians referred to the document when interviewed. The bill specifically states, “A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background or views.”
Many of the librarians said they don’t censor access to materials because of the library bill of rights, their own library’s operating policies and the difficulty in censoring materials without going too far.
“At what point do you stop?” said Director Kelly Marszycki.
Additionally, privacy issues become a concern when censorship as well as limiting access to library materials comes into play.
“We don’t censor at all,” said Cheryl Donahue, head of children’s services at the Simsbury Public Library. “Everybody has a right to read what they’re interested in.”
While Director Lisa Salazar said patrons might not agree on what materials may or may not be appropriate for a library, individuals using libraries can choose what they and their children bring home.
However, librarians in the area hadn’t heard of children or teenagers clamoring for the book.
“We do not believe any child has asked for it,” Vocelli said.
“It hasn’t occurred,” Salazar said.
A more pragmatic reason that young patrons haven’t requested the book or brought it to the check out counter, at least in East Granby, is its availability.
“We’re not putting it anywhere because it’s never in,” Salazar said, noting the book’s popularity.