Kentucky library to move 'mature' graphic novels to adult section [Updated]

A Kentucky library at the center of a controversy involving book access, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier and the firing of two employees will move all of its mature-themed graphic novels to the adult section, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports.

Those graphic novels that belong in the teen section also will be moved.

The decision comes just two weeks after the board of the Jessamine County Public Library heard often-passionate arguments from community members about censorship, responsibility, and acquisition and shelving policies.

The contentious public meeting was spurred by the dismissal in September of two circulation-desk attendants for violating library policy after refusing to allow an 11-year-old girl to check out a copy of Black Dossier, a book they consider pornographic and inappropriate for children.

One of the employees, Sharon Cook, had begun her crusade against the Alan Moore-Kevin O'Neill book almost a year earlier, when she challenged its placement in the library's graphic-novel section. When official channels failed her, Cook checked out Black Dossier, and kept renewing it, effectively removing it from circulation, until Sept. 21. That's when she tried to renew the book again, only to discover the computer wouldn't permit her to do so because the book had been placed on hold. Cook then went to colleague Beth Boisvert on Sept. 22, and the two accessed library computer records, where they found Black Dossier had been reserved by an 11-year-old. They removed the hold, prohibiting the child from checking out the book. The following day they were fired.

As of the November meeting, Cook still had the library's copy of Black Dossier, and was being charged 10 cents a day in late fees.

Although Boisvert characterized the library's decision to recatalog mature graphic novels as "very good news," Cook seemed unimpressed.

"It would appear that the library is trying to soothe its tax base by moving the graphic novels," Cook told the Herald-leader. "This is a situation that already exists in other libraries and so is not a new nor creative solution. This very simple solution is one step in the right direction. We can hope that this is the first step in JCPL being more responsive to its tax base."

Update: Lexington's WTVQ reports that library staff on Tuesday began moving some of the estimated 500 to 600 graphic novels just one row, next to books about comics and drawing. Others are being shifted from the young-adult section to the adult-nonfiction area.

The most interesting (and encouraging) tidbit, however, is this: "Anyone of any age can still check out a book."

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