An Indiana library is facing some heat after a 9-year-old obtained an erotic novel using the self-check out system. After the child left the library with a copy of the erotic novel Night Games by Crystal Jordan, the child’s grandmother, Jeannine Deeren, sent a request to the library asking for the removal of the book.
According to local affiliate Fox 59, the West Indianapolis library has denied the request. In its response letter, the library reiterated that it is the guardian’s responsibility to monitor the materials that children check out — a policy stated clearly on their website and when people sign up for a library card.
“The library has many suitable books for children and this book was in the adult section,” said Indianapolis Public Library spokesman Jon Barnes. “We encourage parents, grandparents and caregivers who don’t want their children to have access to certain materials to discuss how to use the library.” In addition, he said that the library is intended to serve a population with “varying tastes and interests.”
Deeren believes her grandson must have picked up the book thinking it was about video games. However, a glance at the cover by a parent or guardian could have prevented the situation. The cover features a naked couple in a steamy embrace, and the book even has a sticker on the back that says, “WARNING: This is a REALLY HOT book. (Sexually Explicit),” according to CBC News.
Sadly, this appears to be another case of a challenge that resulted from a lack of parental oversight, and this isn’t the first time such a deficiency has led to problems. Despite a review committee’s recommendation otherwise, Alan Moore’s Neonomicon was unilaterally removed by the director of a South Carolina library after a parent complained that the content was inappropriate for her 14-year-old daughter. The book was properly shelved in the adult section, and the girl had permission to check out adult books. But her mother made the incorrect assumption that all comics are meant for children and did not review the material closely enough.
In the case of Night Games, the Indianapolis Public Library has joined the ranks of public institutions who refuse to censor materials because of complaints from a single individual. A similar incident happened last year in Washington when the yaoi manga Hero-Heel 2 was challenged by a patron who was upset his unsupervised 10-year-old niece checked out the book. As with the current case in Indiana, the library firmly but politely refused to censor the material, citing the rights of other patrons and library policy that parents are ultimately responsible for monitoring their children’s reading materials. This serves as another reminder that librarians, while ready to offer assistance and advice, do not act in loco parentis for unsupervised children.