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‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Too Racy for Gwinnett Libraries

Books called 'mommy porn' by some are banned from the Gwinnett County Library collection.

While you may find most New York Times bestsellers at the , there are three you will not find.

Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker” and “Fifty Shades Freed” -- currently numbers one through three on the New York Times bestseller fiction list -- are not part of the Gwinnett County Public Library’s (GCPL) collection.

Would you like GCPL to carry the “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.

Deborah George, the division director for materials management at GCPL, explained that the wildly popular books by E. L. James are “out of scope.”

The trilogy, referred to by some critics as “mommy porn,” is a series of erotic novels about the relationship between college student Anastasia Steele and businessman Christian Grey -- a man with a unique sexual appetite.

“Our collection development plan states that we do not collect self-proclaimed erotica, which is the primary reason for our decision not to purchase this and similar materials,” George wrote in an email to Dacula Patch.

GCPL is not the only library system to decide against carrying the highly successful erotic series. According to a FloridaToday.com report, the Brevard County Public Library system in Florida recently pulled “Fifty Shades of Grey” from its shelves after belatedly realizing the nature of the material. 

“Nobody asked us to take it off the shelves. But we bought some copies before we realized what it was. We looked at it, because it’s been called ‘mommy porn’ and ‘soft porn.’ We don’t collect porn,” said Cathy Schweinsberg, library services director.

The question of whether or not “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequel are harmless erotica or something worse has created controversy.

RT.com asked, “The book has certainly found its fan base, but are thousands of women buying a book that encourages them to submit to male domination?”

In her "" review on Rochester Patch, counselor Ann O'Neill wrote, "As a therapist who specializes in women and girls’ issues, my caseload usually has one client who is in therapy because of a relationship with a controlling, disturbed man. It’s damned discouraging to see women eating up this book like it’s Greek yogurt."

Other reviewers are less focused on the BDSM (a combination of bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism) aspect of the book and more on the entertainment value.

“In fact it's the definition of a page-turner: even if anyone unfamiliar with the world of BDSM is likely to turn the pages more out of horrified fascination than engagement with the characters. Gray’s sexual predilections are by turns shocking and banal, and the many sex scenes often toe-curling,” wrote Laura Barnett in The Telegraph.

On the Dacula Patch Facebook page, local fans had high praise for the E.L. James trilogy:

I read all three and couldn't put them down. They are so much more than how they are being described...a story of how love transforms. Yes, there are aspects of the books that are "very detailed" about a world few of us know, but it was interesting to learn. – Joyce S.
I read all 3, 2 weeks ago in 6 days (and you know how busy my life is). Well worth the read. It is not all about the "porn"...it is an awesome love story. – Colleen S.
It's about how loving someone can make you overcome the greatest of obstacles! However, it is a book and it is fiction and I don't think that in the real world this could be possible but still I'm enjoying the read (only on second book) and I can already see how he is doing all he can to be the person he needs to be for her and how she loves him unconditionally, something we don't always see or get but the world needs more of! – Carmen D.
They are absolutely wonderful and addictive. The first book was a little outside my realm of normal, but I gave it a shot, and I am so glad I did because each book following was exceptionally better and I became more attached to the characters. – Teresa F.

Have you read “Fifty Shades of Grey” and its sequels? Is it a harmless read suitable for a library collection or damaging porn? Let us know in the comments.

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Rosemary Vollmar May 09, 2012 at 01:15 PM
The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services. I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation. II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval. III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment. IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas. V. A person’s right to use a library should not be denied or abridged because of origin, age, background, or views. VI. Libraries that make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. Adopted June 19, 1939, by the ALA Council; amended October 14, 1944; June 18, 1948; June 27, 1967; January 23, 1980; inclusion of “age” reaffirmed January 23, 1996. Rosemary Vollmar, Suwanee
Rosemary Vollmar May 09, 2012 at 01:23 PM
After finding the "Library Bill of Rights" on the internet, I am wonderiing if the librarians working for Gwinnett County are members of the American Library Association. I would not read the books in the trilogy mentioned in this Patch article, but I have noticed that there were more books on beading crafts than philosophy and ethics on my latest sojourn to Suwanee's branch of the GCPL system. Rosemary Vollmar, Suwanee Rosemary
Charlotte Vandevander May 09, 2012 at 08:01 PM
My Uncle is a former President of the ALA and he talked often of the various battles libraries had to fight with individuals and local churches, etc. to keep books on the shelves. I don't recall him discussing libraries themselves being the providers of unsolicitated censorship but I'm sure it is common (and indeed scary). Yet another individual who thinks it their job and their right to censor what books we read. Where does it end, Big Brother? How 'bout Huck Finn?
Charlotte Vandevander May 09, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Thanks Rosemary. Nice job. I am proud to say I have two relatives including one past president who are retired members of the ALA and they certainly would support the above statement.

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