2014-10-21 13.42.34-1

Where the Books Live

A while back, I was openly complaining on Twitter about my local library’s lack of feminist texts written by actual feminists. I mentioned their account and got this response:

I had actually requested books before this tweet and those purchases were approved.1 I started to wonder what exactly they would actually approve if I started requesting more liberal and more graphic books. The table below has my “findings”.

Non-fiction was denied more often than fiction. Higher quality romance and erotic novels were denied more often than lower quality ones. Books with women as submissives and sex slaves were approved, but ones with Dommes and female switches were not. Books dealing with sex work were denied quite often. Books often associated with being liberal and with liberal movements (i.e. Occupy) were usually denied.

Several of the books that I requested that were denied were part of various series–ones that the library already has at least one book in.23456 Sometimes the book I would request would be the first book in a series. And it would still get denied.

Oh. Remember my original complaint about the lack of feminist books? It extended to the approval/denial process. Of the books on feminism that I requested, 72% of them were denied.

Book Title Author Status Fiction/Non-Fiction Age Group Genre/Topic
After Summer Abbott, Hailey Declined Fiction Young Adult Romance
American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, The Abramsky, Sasha Approved Non-Fiction Adults Politics / Economy
Angel, The Reisz, Tiffany Declined Fiction Adults Romance: BDSM/Kink/Non-Traditional
Do Muslim Women Need Saving? Abu-Lughod, Lila Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / Religion
Erotic Slavehood: A Miss Abernathy Omnibus Abernathy, Christina Declined Non-Fiction Adults BDSM
Falling for the Backup Aleo, Toni Declined Fiction Adults Romance: Sports
Free Women of Spain: Anarchism and the Struggle for the Emancipation of Women Acklesberg, Martha A. Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
History of Celibacy, A Abbott, Elizabeth Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
House is Not a Home, A Adler, Polly Declined Non-Fiction Adults Memoir / Sexism
I Want It That Way Aguirre, Ann Declined Fiction Adults Romance: New Adult
Infatuate Agresti, Aimee Requested Fiction Young Adult Fantasy
Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl, The de Jour, Belle Declined Non-Fiction Adults Memoir / Sex Work
Prince, The Reisz, Tiffany Declined Fiction Adults Romance: BDSM/Kink/Non-Traditional
Resisting Citizenship: Feminist Essays on Politics, Community, and Democracy Ackelsberg, Martha A. Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry Agustín, Laura María Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / Sex Work
Sex Myth, The Magnanti, Brooke Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / Sex Work
Summer Boys Abbott, Hailey Declined Fiction Young Adult Romance
Twist Akins, Karen Requested Fiction Young Adult Science Fiction
Sometimes Naughty, Sometimes Nice Raye, Kimberly Declined Fiction Adults Romance
Sex, Science, and Stem Cells: Inside the Right Wing Assault on Reason DeGette, Diana Declined Non-Fiction Adults Politics / Science
Uprising, The: An Unauthorized Tour of the Populist Revolt Scaring Wall Street and Washington Sirota, David Declined Non-Fiction Adults Politics / Economy
Passing of Starr Faithfull, The Goodman, Jonathon Declined Non-Fiction Adults True Crime / Sex Work
Rules for Radicals Alinsky, Saul Declined Non-Fiction Adults Politics
Female Eunuch, The Greer, Germaine Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Sex and Destiny: The Politics of Human Fertility Greer, Germaine Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Obstacle Race, The: The Fortunes of Women Painters and Their Work Greer, Germaine Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Immortal Craving Castle, Kendra Leigh Approved Fiction Adults Fantasy
Midnight Reckoning Castle, Kendra Leigh Approved Fiction Adults Fantasy
One Week Girlfriend Murphy, Monica Approved Fiction Adults Romance: New Adult
Second Chance Boyfriend Murphy, Monica Approved Fiction Adults Romance: New Adult
Four Years Later Murphy, Monica Approved Fiction Adults Romance: New Adult
Women’s Room, The French, Marilyn Approved Fiction Adults Feminism
Woman Warrior, The Hong Kingston, Maxine Approved Non-Fiction Adults Memoir
Feminism is for Everybody hooks, bell Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Sexual Politics Millett, Kate Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Gender Relations in Early Modern England Gowing, Laura Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
Proposal, The Ashley, Katie Declined Fiction Adults Romance
Pairing, The Ashley, Katie Declined Fiction Adults Romance
The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England Walker, Garthine and Angela McShane-Jones Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
History of Rape, A: Sexual Violence in France from the 16th to the 20th Century Vigarello, Georges Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
Gender and Change: Agency, Chronology and Periodisation Shepard, Alexandera and Garthine Walker Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
Women, Crime, and the Courts in Early Modern England Kermode, Jenny and Garthine Walker Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
Crime, Gender, and Social Order in Early Modern England Walker, Garthine Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / History
Anything He Wants: Castaway Fawkes, Sara Approved Fiction Adults Romance: BDSM/Kink/Non-Traditional
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center hooks, bell Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Fear of Flying Jong, Erica Approved Fiction Adults Feminism
Full Frontal Feminism Valenti, Jessica Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Lorde, Audre Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Unspeakable Things: Sex, Lies and Revolution Penny, Laurie Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton Clifton, Lucille Approved Non-Fiction Adults Poetry
Delta of Venus Nin, Anaïs Approved Fiction Adults Erotic / Short Stories
Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism hooks, bell Approved Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Baise-Moi Despentes, Virginie Declined Fiction Adults Erotic / Crime
Essential Ellen Willis, The Willis, Ellen and Nona Willis Aronowitz Declined Non-Fiction Adults Essays
Story of the Eye Bataille, Georges Declined Fiction Adults Erotic
Yes Means Yes! Valenti, Jessica Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
Purity Myth, The Valenti, Jessica Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut Valenti, Jessica Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism
People’s History of Sports in the United States: 250 Years of Politics, Protest, People, and Play Zirin, Dave Declined Non-Fiction Adults Sports / History
Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference Fine, Cordelia Declined Non-Fiction Adults Science / Feminism
Pussy Riot!: A Punk Prayer For Freedom Pussy Riot Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / Politics
Words Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot Gessen, Masha Declined Non-Fiction Adults Feminism / Politics
Missionary Position, The: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice Hitchens, Christopher Declined Non-Fiction Adults Religion / Criticism of Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa: The Final Verdict Chatterjee, Aroup Declined Non-Fiction Adults Religion / Criticism of Mother Teresa

I know that the library can’t afford to buy all of the books. I knew that going in, but some of the denials were more shocking than others. Some of the approvals were also shocking.

Most of the denials were accompanied by a suggestion that I use the Interlibrary Loan (ILL) program,7 which is supposed to be a free or cheap alternative to buying books. That would mean paying $3 to my local library for the request. Then, I could be charged up to around $50. For example, Baise-Moi would cost about $15 if I were to get it through the University of Alabama, $20 if I were to get it through Emory, and $25 (plus shipping) from the University of Illinois system. That charge would entitle me to using it for 2-4 weeks. The same edition of the book is available for $10.53 (plus shipping) through Amazon–new. If I wanted to by a used version, I could pay $4.21 + shipping. It would be cheaper to buy the new or used version of Baise-Moi than get it through the library’s ILL program. And that would allow me to own the book forever. What would you choose? To pay more than the book is worth to have it for less than a month or to pay full price for a book that you could keep.

With the requests and the suggestions to use the ILL program, I’ve learned a lot about the library. I’ve also learned that I need to save up in order to read some books. I probably should also cross some off of my to-read list unless I want to buy them, too.


  1. The Women’s Room, The Woman Warrior, and Feminism is for Everybody 

  2. Summer Boys and After Summer are books 1 and 3 in the Summer Boys series; the library has books 2 and 4 already. 

  3. I Want It That Way is the first book of the 2B Trilogy; the library has book 2 in the trilogy. 

  4. The Proposal and The Pairing are books 2 and 3 in The Proposition series; the library already has book 1. 

  5. Sometimes Naughty, Sometimes Nice is book 2 in the Farrel Sisters; the library has books 1 and 3. 

  6. The Angel and The Prince are books 2 and 3 in The Original Sinners; the library already has books 1 and 4. 

  7. I won’t even start on my belief that ILL is a way of keeping poor people from accessing educational information; and how it causes me to hearken back to the way the Catholic Church used to hoard knowledge away from the poor. That allowed them to maintain control over populations and keep power in the hands of the Church, the government, and the wealthy. It’s part of what led to the Reformation. 

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Janet Morris

I'm from Huntsville, Alabama. I've got as many college credits as a doctorate candidate, and the GPA of some of them, too. I have a boss by the name of Amy Pond. She's a dachshund. My parents both grew up in Alabama.

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