The Washington Post

‘50 Shades of Grey’ creates controversy in Md.

Happy women reading “50 Shades of Grey.” (Rob Kim — Getty Images)

There is a kerfuffle brewing in Harford County over pornography. Or a book. Or literature. I guess the topic of the kerfuffle sort of depends on your interpretation of “50 Shades of Grey,” the erotic (putting it mildly) volume of words by E.L. James.

Harford County librarians have chosen not to stock the pornography/book/literature on their shelves.

“It’s one of these tricky issues,” Mary Hastler, the library’s system director, told The Aegis. With reviews calling the volume of words “mommy porn” and “NC-17 bondage” Hastler said the volume of words violated library policy.

“It’s clear that we don’t buy pornography for the library,” she said.

The National Coalition Against Censorship is not pleased. Its executive director, Joan Bertin, told the paper: “It would be great if the library decided to do what most libraries have done — to acquire a book many of their patrons want to read.”

A library system in Florida recently reversed itself, deciding to put the volume of words back on its shelves after an earlier ban. There have also been bans at public libraries in Georgia and Wisconsin.

I decided to see what the demand was like at Maryland libraries that are carrying the controversial volume of words.

Around the state, hundreds of copies at area libraries are either checked out or on hold. Not one copy of Montgomery County’s more than 90 volumes is shown being available. (See for yourself here.) Dozens and dozens of copies in Prince George’s County — also not available.

Down in Charles County, there are more than 40 copies in circulation. None are available. Out west, in Allegany County, none of the eight copies can be picked up.

It seems to me that library patrons have spoken: They want “50 Shades of Grey.” Badly. The volume of words is seemingly everywhere at this point — on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “Saturday Night Live,” and even coming from Gilbert Gottfried’s mouth.

So does Harford County have it all wrong about this volume of words? Weigh in below.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.