To the Readers' Forum:
Perhaps nothing illustrates better the shift in policy at Prendergast Library from the former "Quality Book Selection" policy to the current "On Demand'' policy than the decision to buy 20 (twenty!) copies of the steamy bestseller, "Fifty Shades of Grey." This book, described by professional reviewers as very poorly written, with stilted dialog, and repetitive prose, has not been purchased by libraries that put bad reviews and budgetary constraints before popularity.
The book has been described as pornographic or semi-pornographic with scenes of bondage, wild sex taking place in a "playroom" full of whips, ropes, and sex toys, " a modern bodice-ripper-cum-page-turner," and thus those libraries refusing to buy it have been accused of censorship.
But it is not censorship, which I personally oppose, to refuse to use scarce funds to buy badly written books. These decisions are made all the time when some books are not bought based on poor reviews. Mobile Public Library director Amber Gray, stated the reason for not buying it as: "We always make sure it has positive reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Library Journal and Fifty Shades does not."
It is indeed sad that Prendergast Library has used the excuse of "intellectual freedom and non-censorship" to buy multiple copies of a "best-seller" based only on increasing circulation and contrary to the mission of the library to serve the educational and cultural advancement of its citizens.