September 22, 1908
Have you read "Together" or "The Little Brother of the Rich"?
If you have, you didn't get them at the public library. Robert Herrick's and Joseph Medill Patterson's latest books are not allowed there because -- well, because they are so naughty.
Mrs. Carrie Whitney, the librarian, in proscibing them, has simply followed the initiative taken by a number of Eastern librarians who have condemned them as "utterly pernicious and morbid" with "exaggerated views and the emotions strained."
"We have been laughing at Mary J. Holmes a long time, and have ridiculed the books she has written -- 'trash,' most people call them," said Mrs. Whitney, "but let me tell you, I would rather her books were in the hands of our young people than 75 per cent of the novels that are being turned out every season. Mary J. Holmes was at least pure in her ideals and there is no hint of anything that is not beautiful or wholesome in her stories. As much cannot be said of the men and women who are vieing with each other in producing the most sensational novel of the year."
Mrs. Whitney is broader than most librarians in her views on literature. Boston and St. Louis have debarred books that are considered classics, but these will be found on the shelves at the Kansas City public library.
"I am pretty well acquainted with the reading public," continued Mrs. Whitney. "I know the students and those who read from morbid curiosity. The student may almost find anything in the way of the classics on our shelves, and for him we have at least one of even the questionable books of modern fiction. We cannot put them on the open shelves in the fiction room, however. And there is very good reason for not doing it. We have different cards for children and for adults, but too many children are drawing books on cards for adults. These children wander around among the fiction shelves, reading what they please, and we have no assurance that the books they draw are really for their parents of for their older sisters and brothers.
"All modern fiction is carefully selected. We have but little money to spend on current literature, and our choice must necessarily be discriminate. Within the past few years there are many books that we have had to debar. There was 'Old Wives for New.' It was not bad, but fearfully vulgar. Mark Twain's 'Double Barreled Detective Story' never found the way to our fiction shelves because there was nothing in it to merit it being there. We barred 'Eve's Diary' for quite another reason, however. 'Pam' and 'Pam Decides' were barred also for this same reason, as were Robert Grant's 'Orchid,' Frederick VanEeden's 'The Deeps of Deliverance,' Victoria Cross's 'Life's Shop Windows' and 'My Poor Relations' by Maarten Maartens. It is almost unnecessary to mention the notorious 'Three Weeks.' I think we must have told 1,000 people that we did not have it on our shelves. Even now we have a few calls, but the public generally has learned that we do not have it. You might mention, too, that 'The End of the Game' is another book that is not in the library.
"As to the two new books, 'Together' and 'The Little Brother of the Rich,' the criticisms that have been spread broadcast against them express my views. They shall never be found here."