Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« The State of the Economy | Reading Tonight »

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

People of the Book

posted by on September 17 at 10:22 AM


The public library in Helena, Montana, is thinking about removing a book from its collection after receiving complaints from patrons. So… um… just how exercised should I be about the possible removal of a book from a library in Montana that I wouldn’t put on the shelf in my own home?


RSS icon Comments


Do they have books about the joy of straight sex?

Posted by sepiolida | September 17, 2008 10:26 AM

Does the library have The Joy of Sex on its shelves? If so, then The Joy of Gay Sex should stay. If not, eh. It really depends on their overall standard for sexually explicit material, right?

Also, there are plenty of books that I wouldn't have on my own bookshelves.... I wouldn't be caught dead with anything by Ann Coulter in my house, but that doesn't mean the library shouldn't carry them.

Posted by Julie in Chicago | September 17, 2008 10:29 AM

Maybe they would have kept it if it was the "Joy of Bovine sex".

Posted by bessy | September 17, 2008 10:29 AM

If they chose to get the book, they should keep the book with the hopes that a closeted teen will steal it and hide it under their bed.

Posted by Fly-Over Illinois | September 17, 2008 10:30 AM

Whether you have it on the shelf in your own home is your choice -- just as it is every library patron's choice whether or not to check out a particular book. The public library's job is to stock materials that serve a broad range of patrons. Decisions about what materials to have on the shelf should be made by the library staff and board in accordance with the library's collections policy, not to placate individual patrons. I'm offended by the Ann Coulter books at my public library, but I would never ask that they be removed. I am not obligated to read them. The greatness of the public library is that it makes all kinds of materials available to people who might not otherwise have access to them.

Posted by willendorf | September 17, 2008 10:31 AM

Obviously it's not a comment on the quality of the book, but the fact that it acknowledges the existence of gay people as something other than an abomination.

Welcome to Palin America, where the closet is big enough for all of us!

Posted by flamingbanjo | September 17, 2008 10:32 AM

my grandmother ryan was born in helena. she wasn't gay, though.

Posted by adrian | September 17, 2008 10:32 AM

I didn't see Julie's comment before I posted -- funny that we both thought of Ann Coulter.

Posted by willendorf | September 17, 2008 10:33 AM

On my first job interview out of library school the interviewer asked me if I would loan out "this" book to a teenage patron. She then pulled The Joy of Gay Sex from under her desk and slowly slid it towards me. I didn't get the job, but I chuckle everytime I see the book now.

Posted by Mike | September 17, 2008 10:33 AM

Willendorf (#5) covers the issue very nicely and I concur. However, I am curious, Dan, about your lack of enthusiasm for this particular book. Care to explain?

Posted by Robert Claassen | September 17, 2008 10:41 AM

@5 nailed it better than I could.

Posted by Rotten666 | September 17, 2008 10:47 AM

Now if they want to ban a really dirty book they should ban the Bible. Sex,sex,sex! Not to mention all the murdering and wars!

Posted by Vince | September 17, 2008 10:49 AM

I just read some leftist saying "...these last 8 years have been the worst in this country's history". That pretty much sums up why the left is losing the current election. If you like losing, and everything I've heard coming out of leftists during this election suggests that you do, you should totally get vocally upset about a library in Montana refusing to carry this book. Libraries have an infinite capacity and should totally carry every book ever published especially if one is offensive to someone. That's really what the first ammendment is all about. That is a crucial issue.

While you're at it, you should declare your intent to move to Canada or the EU. That's always endeared the American working man to his real defenders on the left. Then you should blame your losing streak on failure to come up with a good soundbyte for the obese couch-pilots out there in the suburbs. Then you should wonder about how the diabolical tools of the right-wing propaganda machine have convinced the stupid fat NASCAR watchers that we urban coastal elites are looking down on their stoopid fat NASCAR-watching butt-cleavage.

If you keep doing all of these things, you can lose an election to the party of a president with an approval rating lower than the average pedophile. You and your Changey McHope candidate will carve a new chapter in the history of losing. Keep aimin high!!

Posted by Luke Baggins | September 17, 2008 11:05 AM

#12 I've often dreamed of a publicity campaign consisting of billboards with bible quotes like the ones that command believers to murder shellfish eaters and the boofing the wife's handmaiden parts. Put these billboards in family-valuing parts of the country. It would be fun.

Posted by Luke Baggins | September 17, 2008 11:09 AM

Why wouldn't you? Not even in a special "Daddy and Daddy Only" book shelf? My parents had "The Joy of Sex" on their book shelf and I have it to thank for my early sexual discovery. I'd rather my curious kid look at that than find something potentially depraved on the internet as an answer to their questions. I'm not saying keep it on the coffee table. My parents kept theirs on the tip top shelf of the basement bookshelf and I was a good climber. I'm just saying if the kid find it, it's not a terrible thing for a kid to find.

Unless it's not a very good book...

Posted by Baxter | September 17, 2008 11:22 AM

I'm thinking with a title like The Joy of Gay Sex, the library knew what it was when they ordered it, it's not like they were surprised. They should tell the offended partrons to avert their eyes. As long as it's informative, and not sensational, I see no reason why this book shouldn't have a place in the library.

I suppose the only thing I find offensive about this book is that it appears to be a bestselling guide for gay men. Does it not address lesbian sex as well?

@10 - Dan's been a sex columnist for something like a decade at least. He's got better books than this. Truthfully, it does look a little cheesy.

Posted by Charm | September 17, 2008 11:36 AM

If the book is being circulated, then the book should not be removed. Libraries have to weed books from libraries all the time, but the decision should not be based on objectionable content.

If there are concerns about the material being potentially inappropriate for naive or sensitive patrons, most libraries have a reserve shelf where the book can be kept until it is requested. It's a common library practice. And librarians are not in the business of deciding which patrons can check out which books.

The university where I went to grad school had a subscription to Playboy; it was kept at the reserve desk, and if you needed to cite a book review (wink, wink) from a specific issue of Playboy, you simply asked a librarian for it. Not a big deal.

Posted by Kirk Fontenot | September 17, 2008 11:40 AM

Here is why the Religious Right wing has taken control of America, they take ACTION. They do something they say something they get mad. The Liberal Progressive Left sits and whines and complains at their local coffee shop or on some blog. Well Kids, how about DOING SOMETHING! Walk in to the Seattle Public Library and DEMAND that the Joy Of Sex be removed, or how about removing a Dick and Jane genre book? Or better yet, how about asking a filter be put on Religious websites? See how much courage that takes to stick out as an odd ball. Not easy is it? Stop the whining and start doing something if you're so upset.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | September 17, 2008 12:10 PM

hmmm...I think more gay men need to be reading this book. The sex skills of the modern gay man has sadly deteriorated in the last 10 years.

Someone needs to be teaching these young gehs that there's more than one erogenous zone on the male body...

Posted by michael strangeways | September 17, 2008 12:22 PM

That book is rarely on the shelves in any public library. When I worked at the San Jose library I most often found it in the restroom, after waiting weeks for our copy to come back in. A check of King County Library shows only 5 copies, 3 are "lost": billed for non-return, and only 2 are "CHECK SHELF". I would be willing to bet they are not on the shelves.
It's just a book. It's not like the BIBLE for god's sake! :-)

Darn, I was about to go Helena next month too..

Posted by calvin | September 17, 2008 12:28 PM

"So… um… just how exercised should I be about the possible removal of a book from a library in Montana that I wouldn’t put on the shelf in my own home?"

Checking the comments on on this book, I think one possible problem with this book is that it isn't the best on the subject. If you were going to have 10 gay sex manuals, then perhaps a library should make room for this. But if you are going to have only one, this should not be the one. Would you really want to be represented by a book that covers bestiality?

Posted by GoodBuddy | September 17, 2008 2:23 PM

Christ, are libraries about to go the way of theatres that (at least in Seattle) post signs like: "There will be gunshots in the First Act" or "In the Second Act, a strobe light will flash and actors will actually smoke on stage."

I see the early warning signs libraries will be constrained to post: "Caution, books in this library contain the words shit, piss and fuck - if you find this offensive, go away, comb your lowbrow and cultivate your child's garden of illiteracy."

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | September 17, 2008 2:42 PM

Click my link (under SafeLibraries) to see my blog post entitled, "Lewis and Clark's Gay Adventure; Helena, MT, and the Homosexuality Red Herring."

Posted by SafeLibraries | September 22, 2008 7:42 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.