The Wanganui Chronicle has a follow-up to yesterday’s piece on potentially age-inappropriate graphic novels, talking to librarian Sally Patrick. It sounds like the library is doing everything applicable regulations and good sense require and that the staff is willing to go a bit further, if necessary:
“[Patrick] said the items that [concerned parent who used a child’s library card to check out nipple-baring manga] Mrs [Julie] Gordon submitted for a ruling came back with a classification that was age-appropriate for a teenage collection if that collection is developed for 13 to 18-year-olds.
“‘What the library must then do is ensure the item is classified and access is restricted to the age groups that have been defined.’
“She said the library needed to look at the proximity of the teenage area to the children’s area and ensure that any ‘potential confusion is eliminated’.
“Books with a classification were not publicly accessible in the library and anyone wanting a book carrying an age classification would have to ask staff for it.”
Wanganui Mayor Michael Laws has also become involved:
“‘It is not a question of censoring and removing the books, so much as indicating their appropriateness for which age group,’ he said.
“Mr Laws stressed that councils should not censor reading material but that freedom needed to be counter-balanced against the right of parents to restrict reading choices for their children.
“‘Adolescent fiction has become increasingly edgy over recent years, but that should not necessarily be an excuse for younger children having access to inappropriate material. This is a good chance to debate the issue and invite further public and parental comment.’”
Aside from the fact that the library is already making conscientious efforts to shelve materials in an age-appropriate manner, Laws doesn’t sound nearly so reactionary or opportunist as some of the officials involved in the removal of Paul Gravett’s Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics from a California library system last year.
Reading both articles in the Chronicle, it sounds like Gordon’s objections rest more with the criteria of the Office of Film and Literature Classification than the library itself. If some of the books in question are volumes of Chobits, Tokyopop has clearly labeled them “OT: Older Teen Age 16+,” which is consistent with the R16 rating returned by the office.