Hamilton

Hamilton Public Library not removing Dr. Seuss books, but local school boards are

Hamilton's public and Catholic school boards have removed six Dr. Seuss books from their library shelves after the author's heirs decided to stop publishing them. But Hamilton Public Library has not.

HPL says libraries are based in 'intellectual freedom' and books can create conversation

Hamilton Public Library isn't removing the Dr. Seuss books that have come under fire for racist imagery. (Erin McCracken/Evansville Courier & Press/The Associated Press)

Hamilton's public and Catholic school boards have removed six Dr. Seuss books from their libraries after the author's heirs decided to stop publishing them.

But Hamilton Public Library (HPL) has not, it says, because of its foundation on "intellectual freedom" and the books "create opportunity for conversations."

Dr. Seuss Enterprises said on Tuesday it would stop publishing And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry StreetIf I Ran the Zoo, McElligot's Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super!, and The Cat's Quizzer, because of racist and insensitive imagery.

Lisa Radha Weaver, the HPL's collections and program development director, said the library has four of those books in its collection.

The Dr. Seuss books that will no longer be published. All six will be pulled from publication because of racist and insensitive imagery, Dr. Seuss Enterprises said Tuesday. (CBC)

"The Toronto Public Library is starting a review of the Dr. Seuss books and we, along with other Canadian libraries, will watch that review closely and consider possibly moving some of that content to reference materials. But at this time, the books are going to remain in our collection. We will not promote them on any lists or display them prominently though," Weaver said.

She said the only content that gets removed from the collection are books that have fallen apart due to use.

"Our collections policy, though, does clearly state items will not automatically be excluded from our collection based on race, religion, views of the author, controversial content, and even language in which the work is written or spoken," Weaver said.

She pointed out that libraries have long included controversial content, which in the 60s, 70s and 80s, meant the inclusion of LGBTQ materials.

WATCH: 6 Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication

6 Dr. Seuss books pulled from publication

9 months ago
2:01
Dr. Seuss Enterprises says it will no longer publish six Dr. Seuss books, including If I Ran the Zoo and Scrambled Eggs Super!, because of racist and insensitive depictions in them. 2:01

Public comments on the HPL website have labelled If I Ran the Zoo as "seriously racist" as far back as 2014, but Weaver said that wouldn't prompt a review of the book.

She said there's a formal process where community members can request the library to reconsider keeping content in its collection.

Weaver also said the library is focused on promoting Canadian content and content from Black, Indigenous and people of colour, along with best sellers, classics and favourites.

Hamilton school boards remove books from libraries

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board said it is removing the books from its libraries and identified them as "harmful."

"We are committed to delivering a curriculum that respects and promotes diversity and is culturally relevant and responsive," director Manny Figueiredo said in a statement.

"The delivery of education must ensure that no child experiences harm from the resources that are shared."

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board chairperson Pat Daly said it has also removed the books from its libraries for a review.

"Based on the determination of the individuals entrusted to make that review, that decision should be respected ... we take that extremely seriously," he said.

Weaver said HPL supports the school boards' decisions, but said public libraries have a mandate for intellectual freedoms, unlike the school boards.

"When sharing materials with emerging readers and young readers," she said, "it is that responsibility and privilege of the adult with whom that reading is happening to have a conversation about the content."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bobby Hristova

Reporter/Editor

Bobby Hristova is a reporter/editor with CBC Hamilton. Email: bobby.hristova@cbc.ca

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