PLYMOUTH — This week is national banned book week, a celebration of reading organized by the American Library Association (ALA) among other organizations.
Plymouth Public Library young adult librarian Debbie Beck said that the library does not ban books.
“Our library doesn’t ban books — but we also don’t go to the other side and encourage people to read books that have been banned,” said Beck. “We want people to come in and read books because they are interested in them, not because it’s controversial.”
Beck, who is the primary purchaser of young adult books at PPL, said that she does occasionally get parent complaints about the books available at the library. There’s not much she can do about those complaints, but she does sympathize with parents’ concern.
“The parents are responsible for their child’s reading,” said Beck, adding that a parent must sign for a child under 18 to receive a library card. “It’s not easy to be the purchaser…there’s a lot of books (I buy) that I wouldn’t want my kids to read, or some that I wouldn’t even read myself. But I’m not allowed to put my standard on other people.”
Beck said that purchases of new books depend much of the time on what the community wants to read. A new section — adult graphic novels — was just put together because the library had many requests for such books. The section has been placed far away from the young adult books to make it clear that the content isn’t intended for teens.
“I read reviews, but what I buy is driven mostly by the community and what they ask for,” said Beck.
She said the most requested young adult book of this year was The Hunger Games series. The three-book series was also one of the top 10 banned books of 2011, according to the ALA website.
Beck said that when a book is “banned” it’s usually a situation where a particular novel has raised general community outrage. This doesn’t happen as much as it used to, said Beck.
“The sense of wanting to protect our youth is not really there anymore,” said Beck. “It used to be that there was this community moral standard, but that’s pretty much gone. There’s not one moral standard that everyone follows. It’s more that people don’t want someone else’s standards placed on them.”
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