Why was Gender Queer removed from the WCPL Collection?
Last Updated: May 22, 2023 Views: 1143

Updated statement as of 12/28/2021

Thank you for reaching out to Wake County Public Libraries (WCPL) to inquire about the decision to remove the title Gender Queer from the collection. When a book is removed from a library there are understandably many questions and concerns about the decision. The decision to remove this book for sexually graphic illustrations adhered to a policy that was implemented in 2005. While this process has served the library for over 15 years, WCPL is committed to strengthening and updating it to reflect current community standards, to assure transparency and to expand inclusivity. There are many voices that will add value to how WCPL manages requests for reconsideration and we want to make sure they are heard.

We are assembling a diverse working group of librarians at all levels of positions to assist the library in an update of the procedure. The mission of this working group is to develop a reconsideration process that is fair, transparent, inclusive, and aligned with the mission of Wake County Public Libraries and to assure such process applies to all requests for reconsideration. WCPL understands there are varying opinions on this book and there is a common interest in constantly improving and strengthening our policies and procedures. The goal is and will always be to provide an exceptional library experience and to  assure the availability of a collection which serves and enriches our diverse library community.

***Statement from December 22, 2021***

Thank you for reaching out to Wake County Public Libraries (WCPL) to inquire about the decision to remove the title Gender Queer from the collection. 

When a book is removed from a library there are understandably many questions and concerns about the decision, which is affirming to democracy and the public library. We want to assure everyone that the decision to remove this book was due to the sexually explicit illustrations — not the subject matter. WCPL offers over 500 titles and 12,000 copies of books supporting and affirming the LGBTQ community/lifestyle. These titles include novels, memoirs, and books for all ages. We are committed to supporting and offering opportunities for all members of our diverse community.

Each year, WCPL selects over 9,000 titles for the book collection and owns 88,000 titles with over 1.6 million copies. We receive about 12  book reconsideration requests annually, and since 2012, we have removed three titles from the collection. Two for purposes of explicit illustrations and one children's storybook with disturbing content.  

We encourage the community to be involved in the collection by suggesting titles and sharing their concerns about titles. We do this by offering the community the following opportunities:

  1. Request For Purchase - the opportunity for the community to suggest book purchases for the library's collection. The service is available on the library's catalog. Once we receive the request, the Library Selection Team review the suggestion and determines if the title aligns with WCPL's Selection Criteria. After this review, the title is either added to the collection or borrowed through the Inter Library Loan Process.
  2. Request for Reconsideration -  the opportunity for the community to share concerns with a title in the library's collection. This form is available at libraries upon request. The form includes questions about the content of the book, the customer's opinion about the book, what suggestions they have for the book and what books would be suggested in place of the book. When the form is completed it is given to the Library Manager and forwarded to the Collection Services Department. Once received, the Senior Library Manager for Collections and the Selection staff determine next steps for the title.

Gender Queer went through the reconsideration/review process and the recommendation was to remove the book from the collection because the illustrations were sexually explicit. The recommendation was presented to the deputy library director, the library director and the community services director.

WCPL is committed to serving the LGBTQ community through collection, display and experience. In addition, we welcomed the counsel of Dolph Goldenberg, the Interim Director for the LGBT Center of Raleigh,  who has graciously offered to donate books to  our collection on LGBTQ , review our catalog to learn more about our current offerings and offer advice on future book selections. We appreciate the center's willingness to learn more about WCPL's selection process and reconsideration process. In our meeting, library staff reiterated that this book was removed for the sole reason of the sexually graphic illustrations and that WCPL has never removed a book because of LBGTQ content. 

Thank you for reaching out to the library and sharing your thoughts. 


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