One argument over the exclusion of the book series is that the library does carry romance novels, or what Hastler referred to as "bodice rippers."

The difference between the reviews on those novels versus "Fifty Shades," she noted, "From what I recall, I never saw them called pornographic or mommy porn."

"It's one thing if it's one reviewer who says it," Hastler said, but it's another when the term "pornography" is being used frequently.

When it comes down to it, she continued, "Going back to the board selection policy, it's clear that's something we don't buy."


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As far as customer complaints or requests, Hastler said she has received a total of three.

The library at Harford Community College doesn't carry the book series, either, but for a slightly different reason.

"The library's first priority is to provide materials to students in support of curricular requirements," the HCC library's director, Carol Allen, responded in an e-mail from Nancy Dysard, director for marketing and public relations. "The library will usually not select for purchase ... popular fiction or non-fiction unless longevity in the collection is expected."

One county councilman, Chad Shrodes, said he trusts library officials in their decision to follow a "conservative" book-purchasing policy. Shrodes' wife, Amber Shrodes, is director of the library foundation.

"I think this falls in the category that they don't get any books from," he said, describing the book as erotica. "If they bend the rule here, they are going to have to bend it for other books in the future, so I think it's better to uphold the policy that has worked in the past."

Shrodes said he nevertheless realizes the book is extremely popular.

"It seems like everywhere you turn, you hear about the book. It's such a popular thing," he said, adding family, friends and"Saturday Night Live"are all talking about it.

"You can't get away from it," he said. "I can't remember in recent history where a book has had this type of exposure, as this particular book."

Shrodes said he has not heard from any constituents regarding the library's decision and he doesn't think the council should get involved in the library's decisions.

"I know it's upsetting because everybody is talking about it," he said about the book, but added: "Should taxpayers be paying for a book that's like this?"

The National Coalition Against Censorship's executive director, Joan Bertin, said the organization is considering writing similar letters to the Harford County library system, but hasn't "made a decision about what to do in this particular situation."

Bertin did, however, call the case "an issue of concern" and added, "It would be great if the library decided to do what most libraries have done — to acquire a book many of their patrons want to read."

Two big concerns the coalition has, Bertin noted, is the issue of the library already carrying sexually-explicit content and the obvious popularity of the series, proving there is a demand for it.

"If it's legal and of interest to members of the community, it's something libraries should provide," Bertin said. "Sexually explicit content is present in literature throughout time and classics. If they followed that rule, they'd leave out an awful lot of stuff."

It's not the library's place, Bertin continued, to "be in the position of what's good and what isn't for them [the readers]." The library's job, she added, "is to serve the entire community no matter what their tastes."

Bertin also feels the series "has been mischaracterized as being extreme" in depiction of sexual acts.

"The proof is that there's a lot of readers buying it," she said. "They're obviously not offended. You can't argue with that."

Other counties in the state do carry "Fifty Shades," with the majority being on-hold or checked out already.

According to explorebaltimore.com, the Baltimore County library system has 1,122 requests for the book. Cecil County doesn't have any copies available to check out either.