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Fifty Shades of Grey flies off Flower Memorial Library shelves

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The novel “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James has barely touched the shelves at Roswell P. Flower Memorial Library since it was added to the catalogue in April.

According to library Director Barbara J. Wheeler, the book currently has 19 local holds, and she does not understand the hype behind it.

“We didn’t buy it initially because it was criticized as not well-written,” she said. “We responded to demand.”

She said the novel is a part of a trilogy. The third book, which is owned by the library, is the one that has been the most popular — as well as the most criticized.

The North Country Library System owns a total of 18 copies; there are currently 83 holds on them. For fiction books, a library patron can normally check out a book for a month. For books on high demand, like “Fifty Shades of Grey,” patrons have only two weeks to read them.

Mrs. Wheeler has not read the book. If she were to be the 20th person to put it on hold at her library, she would have to wait about eight months to check it out.

“I want to stress that our policy calls for us to buy books that are well-written,” she said. “If we bought less books that weren’t well-written, then we would have more book money to go around.”

Although the book has been dubbed “mommy porn” by CNN and is criticized as erotica rather than a library-appropriate novel, Mrs. Wheeler does not feel she has the authority to ban it from the library’s shelves as Brevard County Public Library in Florida, in addition to a handful of other libraries in the country, did recently.

“Libraries shouldn’t censor material,” she said.

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D.H. Lawrence and “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller are both stocked on the shelf, and both were considered just as controversial at the turn of the 20th century.

Mrs. Wheeler said she does not believe it is a librarian’s job to keep under-18 patrons from checking out a book.

“That’s the parent’s job,” she said. “They should be clear about what kind of material is appropriate for their child.”

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