Friday, August 21, 2009

The Hunt Collection

The City Room blog at the New York Times reveals what happens to children's books at the Brooklyn Public Library that library officials determine to be offensive: They get sent to the Hunt Collection. The Hunt Collection resides "in a vault-like room accessible only to staff members." In a letter explaining its decision to banish the popular children's book Tintin au Congo to the Hunt Collection, the library described the collection as "a special collection of historic children’s literature that is available for viewing by appointment only."

I certainly don't condone book banning, but when a potentially-offensive children's book is at issue, perhaps a special collection is a good compromise. The book is still available to those willing to seek it out, but the extra step protects children from inadvertant exposure to something they might be offended by (or that their parents are trying to shield them from). Adult literature, however, is an entirely different story.


Nan said...

I think NYPL's solution for that Tintin book was a good one. And I was amazed (and impressed) to read in that piece about the connecticut library that kept "Lost Girls" on the shelves -- that book is REALLY explicit!

mike mitchell said...

The problem, of course, is who gets to decide which books are locked away in special rooms and what criteria are utilized to determine they should be placed there. From what I read about this, some believe the book has racist overtones....others don't. It's a parent's responsibility to make certain their children aren't exposed to books, photos, TV, and internet content that the parent deems objectionable. Not the local librarian.