The league of sex-censoring librarians

Two Kentucky librarians who decided a graphic novel was obscene have been fired for refusing to let an 11-year-old check out the book.

Sharon Cook, an employee of the Jessamine County library, checked out The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Volume IV: The Black Dossier in 2008 and kept it out so nobody could read it. She stuck pink and yellow highlighter tags on the pages with explicit sexual content.

When Cook went to renew The Black Dossier on Sept. 21, the computer would not allow it because of the hold. Cook used her employee privileges to find out that the patron desiring the book was an 11-year-old girl.

This would not do.

Cook persuaded a fellow library employee, Beth Boisvert, to cancel the hold so the child couldn’t get the book. Both were fired.

What complicates this is that the graphic novel in question meets no standard of obscenity by the law.

While it does contain many images of varied and explicit sexual behavior, it has been the subject of academic study. It was named by Time Magazine as one of its Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2007 and called “genius,” applauded for its ability to “pluck out the strange and angry and contradictory bits that underlie so much of the culture we live and think with today.”

The League books, which are written for adults, use 19th-century literary characters in action plots. This one stars H. Rider Haggard’s Allan Quatermain and Mina Murray of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, “teasing the reader in the know with appearances by Orwellian totalitarianism, Lovecraftian abominations, Jeeves and Wooster, Bulldog Drummond, Ian Fleming’s famed double-o operative, lusty Fanny Hill and a host of others,” says Publishers Weekly.

Via PW’s The Beat.

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  1. I could see the librarian talking to the child’s parents to make sure they are aware of and okay with their daughter’s desire to check the book out, but what they did went over the line.

  2. Hey,

    I love my libarians, but I’ve seen a lot of comments on this story without a true a account of this book.

    This has high quality, artistic pictures of full stop sex. This includes a line of naked men whose mouths are bound, waiting in line for the semen to be milked by a milkmaid sitting on a stool.

    Should this be in a public library? I say yes, but definitely in the adult section.

    There is NO way in hell an 11 year old, who would not be admitted to a rated R movie, should be able to get this book.

    Should we allow an 11 yr old to check out “The Story of O”? C’mon man. I’m radically for free speech and all but with kids there’s got to be some limits.


  3. Alex Bensky says:

    I haven’t read the comic book but, although I don’t like to show off my classical education, I am guessing it was inspired by the Monty Python sketch where a housing development is built by characters from nineteenth century English literature.

    Another development is put up by El Mystico (and Janet, his lovely assistant). He does it by hypnosis but in order to live in the buildings you have to believe in them.