For­bid­den book furore

BANNED BOOKS

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By DANIELLE STREET and SI­MON DAY

The only book ever to be banned from Auck­land Li­braries is be­ing re­viewed for re­in­state­ment into the col­lec­tion.

Con­tro­ver­sial graphic novel Lost Girls is un­der the spot­light af­ter li­brary mem­bers re­quested it be bought for the col­lec­tion.

The Cen­tral City Li­brary held a copy of the comic in 2008 and quickly pulled it off the shelves fol­low­ing coun­sel from the Of­fice of Film and Lit­er­a­ture Clas­si­fi­ca­tion (OFLC).

‘‘Their ad­vice at the time was that if we had the book and it was later banned then we might be li­able for prose­cu­tion,’’ col­lec­tions man­ager Louise LaHatte ex­plains.

‘‘If you know­ingly hold and make avail­able an ob­jec­tion­able work there are sub­stan­tial fines and even prison sen­tences, so it’s not a light mat­ter.’’

The only other New Zealand li­brary known to have held a copy is North Shore Li­braries, also in 2008, be­fore the coun­cil amal­ga­ma­tion.

Auck­land Li­braries pur­chases more than 500,000 books each year and never sends them to the cen­sor.

Un­like films, books get clas­si­fied only if some­one thinks they are of­fen­sive and de­mands they be checked.

Lost Girls has never been sub­mit­ted to the OFLC clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

The comic was writ­ten by renowned English au­thor Alan Moore and il­lus­trated by his wife Melinda Geb­bie.

The three-vol­ume book has Wendy, from Pe­ter Pan, Dorothy from The Wiz­ard of Oz and Alice from Alice in Won­der­land meet­ing as adults on the eve of World War I.

They talk through their sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ences and dis­cuss vi­o­lence and drug use.

Auck­land-based comic artist Dy­lan Hor­rocks says the

for li­brary may be un­aware of the tome’s weight in the graphic novel world.

‘‘They [au­thor and artist] are two very sig­nif­i­cant cre­ators do­ing a very per­sonal work that they took very se­ri­ously as a per­sonal and cre­ative and po­lit­i­cal state­ment,’’ he says.

Mr Hor­rocks was among those who re­quested the book be bought back into the li­brary’s col­lec­tion.

‘‘It is a chal­leng­ing work. But part of the role of li­braries is to make work that is chal­leng­ing avail­able to peo­ple that wouldn’t oth­er­wise be able to ac­cess it,’’ he says.

He has ig­nited a so­cial me­dia dis­cus­sion on in­for­ma­tion free­dom ver­sus cen­sor­ship. The con­ver­sa­tion has gained in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion from me­dia sites in the United States, Aus­tralia and the United King­dom.

‘‘It is fan­tas­tic the dis­cus­sion is hap­pen­ing out there,’’ Ms LaHatte says.

‘‘Our col­lec­tion de­vel­op­ment pol­icy, which is on our web­site, has as one of its prin­ci­ples that we are com­mit­ted to the free­dom of in­for­ma­tion and that has to be bal­anced with com­pli­ance of New Zealand leg­is­la­tion.’’

The li­brary has re­ceived ad­vice from the OFLC and the De­part­ment of In­ter­nal Af­fairs that it will use to in­form de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Li­brary man­agers are due to meet next month to re­view the book’s re­in­state­ment.

Photo: DANIELLE STREET

Graphic con­tent: Comic tome Lost Girls is the only book to ever be banned from Auck­land Li­braries’ col­lec­tion.

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