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Moscow public libraries to revise lists of books proposed for purchasing

Participants in the conference said a new system of selecting literature for libraries will be developed in the short term

MOSCOW, August 21. /TASS/. Moscow City’s public libraries are going to revise the lists of books endorsed for purchasing, which contain currently ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ by E.L.James, ‘Nakes Lunch’ by William Burroughs and large quantities of second-rate fiction, the director of the city Department for Culture, Alexander Kibovsky said on Friday.

"This isn’t an issue of censoring. It relates to the understanding of the situation," he said. "We’re working to help our readers develop normal taste."

"I hear some people tell us, well, nobody will come to the libraries after that," Kibovsky went on as he addressed a conference of directors of city libraries. "It’ll be much better, in fact, if one person reading Dostoyevsky comes to a library instead of ten people picking titles of dubious quality, literary rubbish."

Moscow’s public libraries received 170 million rubles (more than $ 2.5 million) in 2013 and 2014 for purchasing near books. They bought 137 copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’, among other things.

The scope of highly dubious books includes, for instance, the instruction books like ‘Less Dishwashing, More Sex and Less Quarrelling’, ‘Unmarried. Sex, Love and Family Beyond the Limits of Marriage’, as well as books on vampires and low-grade erotic stories.

Libraries often purchase these books upon readers’ requests, said Tatiana Krasnova, the chief of the department for cultural and youth-oriented policies of the Southern Administrative District. She also singled out the books that she believes could be removed from the shelves of public libraries.

"These are the books containing obscene expressions, the books on any subjects dealing with drug and substance abuse, calling for suicide and inspiring our young people for unlawful actions," Krasnova said. "If you take the books for grownup readers, we should remove Burrough’s ‘Naked Lunch’ that depicts hallucinations and sexual adventures."

"And if you look at the books for children, it’s Stefan Casta’s ‘Play Dead’ where young people are actively called upon to show themselves off as being dead, in which case a person is guaranteed against becoming an outcast," she said. "I don’t think a topic of this sort is acceptable for our libraries."

Krasnova complained that city libraries are overburdened with practically unrequested publications, while they could be replaced with much more instructional literature.

Participants in the conference said a new system of selecting literature for libraries will be developed in the short term.