'Fifty Shades Freed'

The third book in the "Fifty Shades" trilogy, "Fifty Shades Freed," isn't available at any Harford County Public Library branch. (Photo by Nicole Munchel | Aegis staff / May 30, 2012)

Several years ago as Harford County's public libraries were becoming centers where people could access the Internet, the issue of using library terminals to access the array of smut available online came to the forefront.

Just as the libraries don't stock explicit magazines in their extensive collections of periodicals, they also don't allow library computer terminals to be used for accessing pornography. There's a certain amount of reason and logic behind this type of ruling.

Unfortunately, the notion of regulating pornography in the Harford County library system seems to have been thrown like a blanket over the E.L. James best seller, "50 Shades of Grey," a sexually-themed novel. It's strange that the term pornography has been applied to the book, which the library isn't carrying. It's strange because the presumably literate people who manage the library system failed to note the literal meaning of the Greek root words of pornography, which translate directly to "pictures of prostitutes."

While the content of the novel presumably is titillating, it isn't alone in this regard. Our libraries do a lively trade in the brand of romance novels noted for their detailed love scene descriptions.


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Why the James novel, which is culturally significant if for no other reason than it made the New York Times Best Seller List, was singled out to be excluded from the Harford County Public Library collection is something of an embarrassing mystery.