The following was sent to Harford County Executive David R. Craig. A copy was provided for publication.
Please have a conference with [Harford libraries director] Mary Hastler to discuss how to properly run the Harford County Libraries.
I am someone who firmly believes in the freedom of the press and I am against censorship in all forms. I firmly believe that any book worth banning is worth reading. No one person should have the authority to act as the "Thought Police" for anyone else.
That is why I was shocked when Mrs. Hastler, an enlightened and skilled librarian, said that she would not carry the book Fifty Shades of Grey on the shelves of the Harford County libraries. She made this decision despite the fact that it is stocked by neighboring counties and it is well known that the Pratt Library in Baltimore City has 300-plus people on its waiting list.
Mrs. Hastler was quoted in the newspapers stating that she does not believe in censorship.
I felt sorry for the library and called to offer assistance. I wanted to buy a retail copy of this extremely popular book and donate it to my local library branch so that it would go into circulation; and I had several other friends who were willing to do the same. Mrs. Hastler informed me that this book does not meet the library's standards because she read part of it and made that decision — which of course sounds like censorship to me.
I think that it is appalling that a free library would turn down a donation of a new book that is in high demand at all of the surrounding jurisdictions. One person should not be able to make decisions that would affect what an entire library system will carry. Furthermore, she should not turn down the donation of a perfectly good book that would save money for the County.
Please contact her office to remind her of my offer for the book donation; with the stipulation that the book will go into circulation in Harford County and NOT be sent into the bins to be sold with other unwanted books. If she will accept and use the book then I will gladly arrange for other friends to donate copies of this book as well.
Brian C. Dempsey