May 31, 2009

Book objections on the rise

U.S. librarians are facing a growing number of complaints about the books on their shelves these days, records indicate.

Written complaints to public and school libraries seeking the removal or restriction of materials rose from 420 in 2007 to 513 in 2008, The (Nashville) Tennessean reported Sunday. The challenges led to 74 books being taken off shelves.

The newspaper said the Library Association of America recently issued its list of the 10 most-challenged books of last year. Among them was The Kite Runner, a New York Times best-seller, and the teen drama series Gossip Girl.

Diane Chen, librarian at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Nashville, says she recognizes parents' right to keep a particular book from their children but is concerned a complaining parent could keep books from other parents' children.

Denying everyone the freedom because someone is worried about one child extends the protection too far, she said.

However, Williamson County (Tenn.) Board of Education member Terry Leve, who has six children under 20, counters that some books are inappropriate for school libraries. He puts Living Dead Girl, about a teen who is kidnapped and sexually abused, in that category, The Tennessean said.

I don't think that is appropriate for a 14-year-old, Leve said.