News Sakai City Libraries to Loan Boys-Love Books to Minors Again
posted on 2008-12-23 18:43 EST
The city of Sakai, located in the central Japanese prefecture of Osaka, has reversed its decision to place boys-love materials in restricted archives of its libraries after a citizens' group complained about government interference. The city's seven libraries has 5,499 volumes of boys-love material (stories about gay male relationships), including about 100 volumes with nude depictions of explicit sex. Due to frequent thefts, the libraries had placed these books in special archives and had loaned them out only upon request.
However, boys-love materials were borrowed out of four of the libraries so frequently that these branches then placed these materials on shelves where anyone can access them. In July, a citizen complained to the city about the materials' open access by claiming "sexual harrassment," the materials' "bad influence" on children, and the citizens' tax burden. The city noted that the books were purchasd due to requests from library users and maintained that the role of a public library is to provide materials that its users want to read. However, the city decided to return these materials to the archives in these four libraries and forbade minors younger than 18 from borrowing them.
In October, a separate citizens' group issued a complaint about the policy change. The group asserted that if a library singles out any group of books for removal or discarding, it "is no longer a library" in spirit. It also complained about government interference. After consulting experts, the libraries decided in November to reverse themselves and allow minors to borrow the books again. The city defended the reversal by saying its "hasty" initial decision was in error.
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