Intellectual freedom is hard sometimes.
As a student of the amazing Ann Curry, I learned a thing or two about dealing with censorship, and in my four years at a public library in a mid sized Canadian city, I have had my fair share of parents complaining about books that are too sexy, too druggy, too violent, too magical, too realistic, too Christian, not Christian enough – the list goes on. And for all of those parents I have brought out my typical line of “I’m sorry that this book offended you, but…”, they have gone their merry way, possibly a little mad and likely to come back and steal the book later just to spite me, but I don’t have a problem with that. Well I do have a problem with it, but it’s out of my sphere of influence, so I can’t do much about it. Also, I will just order the book again.
But today I have a problem of a different sort. I recently ordered Andy Riley’s The Book of Bunny Suicides for the graphic novel collection, and neglected to remember one of my co workers recently lost her daughter to suicide. She finds the book to be completely distasteful and inappropriate for teens given the high rate of suicide today. While I obviously feel terrible for offending her and understand why she is upset, I don’t feel that the book is any more horrible than many of the graphic novels and teen novels we have in the collection, and in fact the book is quite funny and creatively done and I would like to keep it on the shelf.
But still I am perplexed, because I have never before had a book complaint from a co worker, and I feel it is much harder than just giving her my normal response – this woman has worked at the library for many years and I need to maintain a good working relationship with her. So while I know most of you will just tell me to keep the book on the shelf, I would like to know: how many of you have this book at your library, have any of you had complaints about it, and moreover, what do I tell this woman? I have read some arguments on Debate.org regarding the book, but I feel that as a co-worker and human being, I cannot respond to a grieving mother in my standard political, library-speak manner.