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Fifty Shades of Grey ban defended by librarian

Libraries

The Baltimore-area librarian who banned the wildly popular and wildly racy "Fifty Shades of Grey" says she knew her move would spark criticism. But Mary Hastler, director of the Harford County Public Library, says E.L. James' book violated the system's policy on pornography -- and was poorly written to boot.

"I've been doing this a long time, and I knew it was going to make some people happy and others unhappy. That's just a given. But if I had gone against our policy, it would have been a lot more difficult for me," she said in a profile by The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker.

Hastler, 54, grew up in Baltimore, plying library and devouring Nancy Drew mysteries. After college, she worked as a health administrator before making a career change to librarian. 

Although all of the other Baltimore-area libraries carry "Fifty Shades of Grey,"Hastler said she's comfortable with her decision. "Our policies are different. I really do respect the fact that people care, and these are tough decisions. But that's the job."

The book has been pulled, at least temporarily, from other libraries, including some in Florida and Wisconsin. The American Library Association says the book "has sparked discussion about the line between selection and censorship in libraries.  Where selection decisions are guided by the professional ethics of librarianship – which emphasize inclusion, access, and neutrality – libraries choosing not to purchase materials that fall outside their defined collection policies and needs are not censors.  Where partisan disapproval or doctrinal pressure guides libraries’ decisions to select or remove materials, then censorship can result."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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