Toronto Public Library occasionally gets requests from people who want a particular book, movie or audio recording removed from library shelves. Librarians dutifully review each complaint.
Sometimes the requests are reasonable. In 2012, for instance, a complaint led to the removal of an educational video that a library user thought reinforced racist stereotypes about date rape.
The newly released list of removal requests for 2013, meanwhile, is just completely insane.
In March 2013, someone complained about Hop on Pop, a Dr. Seuss book intended to teach phonics to young children, because it “encourages children to use violence against their fathers.” The user asked the library not only to remove the book, but also to issue an apology to fathers in the GTA and pay damages. There’s no way of knowing whether this complaint was intended as a joke, but it’s clear library staff didn’t take it as one. In their response, they point out that the book has been around for 50 years, and that “children are actually told not to hop on pop.” Hop on Pop remains on library shelves.
Another thing targeted for removal in 2013 was Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot. Was someone angered by the fact that the historical volume was co-authored by odious Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly? Nope. Whoever lodged the complaint was more concerned that the book contained “falsehoods because it concludes Kennedy was killed by Oswald alone.” Library staff concluded that it wasn’t their job to entertain everyone’s pet grassy-knoll theory, and the book was retained.
To their credit, library staff very rarely grant a removal request. In fact, of the seven complaints received in 2013, not a single one resulted in an item being withdrawn. Here are the other five:
- A Kiss Remembered, a romance novel from 1983. (“Obscene and offends current societal morality.”)
- Complete Hindi, a language book. (“Contains inaccuracies and states that Hindi and Urdu are paired languages.”)
- Flesh House, a murder mystery. (“Shocking and disturbing.”)
- That’s My Boy, an Adam Sandler movie. (“Shows sick and illegal behaviour and depicts it as humorous.”)
- Lizzy’s Lion, a children’s book. (“Violent and disturbing; has no place in a children’s library.”)