The library director of the Greenville, South Carolina, public library system has made the decision to remove Alan Moore’s award-winning graphic novel Neonomicon from shelves throughout the system despite a letter of support from CBLDF, the National Colation Against Censorship, and the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. Further, the removal is against the recommendation of the library’s content review committee.
CBLDF joined forces with the NCAC and the ABFFE to write a letter in defense of Neonomicon, which contains adult themes and imagery, when it was challenged last June in the Greenville public library system. Objections to the book were raised by a patron after her teenage daughter checked it out. The book was correctly shelved in the adult section of the library, and the teenager possessed a library card that allowed access to the adult section. The parent who filed the complaint conveyed the common misconception that comics are for younger readers in expressing her concerns to local press. (You can read the entirety of the letter below.)
Despite the fact that there is an audience in the community that would like to read the book, that the book was properly shelved, that it’s by a highly-respected comics creator, and that the library’s own review committee voted to keep the title, library executive director Beverly James removed the book based on her subjective views of the material. James told the Greenville Journal about her reasoning:
“‘Neonomicon’ was added to the library’s collection based on the reputation of the author as one of the most outstanding writers in the genre and the fact that the book won the 2011 Bram Stoker Award from the Horror Writer’s Association in the graphic novel category.
Nonetheless, had we known in advance about the disturbing material contained in the book, it is unlikely we would have added ‘Neonomicon’ to our collection. For that reason, we have withdrawn it from the library’s collection.”
“Librarians are often our staunchest allies in the fight for the freedom to read; it is surprising that the Library Services Director in this case is not working to defend that right. There are patrons in the district who do want to read books like Neonomicon and are not offended by its content,” says Acacia O’Connor, Project Coordinator for the Kids’ Right to Read Project, an initiative founded by the NCAC and ABFFE and sponsored by CBLDF. “Those readers have the right to make up their own minds about whether they want to read the book and not have their choices dictated by the subjective views of others. They may be calling it ‘deselection’ but we have another name for it: censorship.”
CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein responds to the decision: “We are extremely disappointed that adult readers in Greenville are being deprived of the opportunity to read Alan Moore’s challenging work. We respect that each community must make their own decisions about the works available to patrons in their library, so it is especially vexing that this book is being banned despite the recommendation of the library’s own content review committee. Comics are an increasingly important form of speech, and CBLDF is committed to increasing understanding of the art form and the categories within it with the goal of stopping future bans from occurring.”
It is unfortunate that the library director chose to remove Neonomicon, once more proving the importance of CBLDF’s mission. Please help us continue our fight to protect comics and graphic novels by making a donation or becoming a member of the CBLDF!
You can also register your protest of the removal of an Alan Moore title from the Greenville public library by taking part in our Spirit of Giving campaign and picking up your very own personalized copy of one of his award winning novels! Today is your last chance to get a book signed by Moore, but the campaign continues and we have many other amazing artist supporters!