Ottawa library's 11 requests to remove books, DVDs

After a request to remove a Dr. Seuss book at the Toronto Public Library, CBC News asked Ottawa's public library what removal requests it received. They sent us 11 such requests.

Toronto Public Library urged to remove Dr. Seuss book alleging it promoted violence against fathers

After the Toronto Public Library system was asked to ban the Dr. Seuss classic, Hop on Pop, because it apparently promotes violence against fathers, CBC Ottawa decided to ask the Ottawa Public Library if it's had any requests to remove books. 

A request to the Toronto Public Library asked them to remove the Dr. Seuss book, Hop on Pop, alleging it promoted violence against fathers.
While there's nothing quite as outlandish as banning Hop on Pop, the list offers a window into what some people find offensive. And you may, or may not agree.

There were 11 requests, including two for the DVD, Killer Joe. Here are the 10 books or DVDs that sparked at least one upset reader or viewer.

The Ottawa Public Library elected not to remove 10 of the 11 requests:

  1. Someone thought the history of Halloween was connected to the devil in a booklet called The Facts on Halloween, and the booklet allegedly had a "pro-religious bias." The library did not remove the booklet.
  2. Someone objected to the tone of The Natural Family: A Manifesto, arguing the 2007 book is written from a traditionalist point of view. The library did not remove the book.
  3. Someone thought a book on history and geography written in Arabic is religiously and politically incorrect. The library did not remove the book.
  4. Someone thought the children's book, Je déteste l'école, contains pictures too scary for the intended age group. The library did not remove the book.
  5. Someone thought the e-book, Snowbound in Nowhere, contains explicit text about a homosexual relationship that's too graphic for the intended audience. A warning for graphic sexual content was requested. The library did not remove the e-book.
  6. Two complainants thought the DVD, Killer Joe, starring Matthew McConaughey, should have a rating change or a graphic content warning because of scenes of violence and explicit sex. The library did not remove the DVD.
  7. Someone thought the DVD, Favourite Game, based on a Leonard Cohen novel, should be banned because of scenes of what the viewer described as child pornography. The library did not remove the DVD.
  8. Someone thought the rating for the DVD, Compliance, should be changed because of a scene where a teenage girl is asked to undress for a strip search. The library did not remove the DVD.
  9. Someone objected to the book, What is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A defense​, objecting to the tone of the book and indicating it was written from a traditionalist viewpoint​. The book was not removed.
  10. Someone thought the DVD, Hey, Hey It's Esther Blueburger, should not be in the children's section because it's about a girl who escapes from her Bat Mitvah party and is therefore not age appropriate. In this case, the library relocated the DVD in another section.

There is a rigorous process when the library gets complaints from the public. Here are the steps:

  • Read/view the entire item.

  • Consult with colleagues (other librarians, branch staff, colleagues from other library systems).

  • Check collection of other public libraries across Canada for placement/acquisition.

  • Look to see if library received previous request for reconsideration or complaints (anecdotal or feedback).

  • Check independent reviews (e.g. library journals, OFA for DVDs).

  • Look at circulation statistics.

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