So, have you heard or read about the controversy over the “Fifty Shades” trilogy? As I write this, the books hold spots 1, 2, and 3 in the New York Times Best Seller Fiction list, spots they have held for the last 8-9 weeks. They are:
- Fifty Shades of Grey
- Fifty Shades Darker
- Fifty Shades Freed
So what’s the problem, you might ask, if they’re that popular, the library should buy them, right? Ah, there’s the rub. You see, the books are often described as “erotic fiction,” and it seems they have gotten mixed reviews. Does it matter? You be the judge: Should you buy the books because they are bestsellers and/or because your patrons are requesting them? Should you not buy them because you deem them inappropriate? If you bought them should you now remove them because you deem them inappropriate, or want to avoid the controversy? If you bought them should you keep them because there is demand and the purchase is in keeping with your selection policy?
There are other options too—and although some options are clearly better than others, in the end library directors, selectors, and boards will have to make the choice that is best for them, and one they can reasonably defend. I will make two points: 1) Every library should have a well-crafted selection policy, which describes criteria for selection, and the process for dealing with challenges (and follow that process!); 2) All of the hoopla over this trilogy is no doubt creating an even greater demand for the titles.
- ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF) Statement
- E. L. James website
- Associated Press release
- WBAY-TV Green Bay-Fox Cities-Northeast Wisconsin News article