BPL pulls book off shelves

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The Brooklyn Public Library pulled a book off the shelves after it was deemed racially offensive.

“Tintin au Congo,” written and illustrated 79 years ago by Belgian writer and illustrator Georges (Herge) Remi, got the boot after patrons complained that the book depicted Africans as monkeys.

“‘Tintin au Congo’ was relocated to the Hunt Collection at Central Library because our materials review committee determined that the title %u2013 which was a part of the children’s collection %u2013 had illustrations that were racially offensive and inappropriate for children,” said Central Brooklyn Public Library Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan.

Reyes-Gavilan said since the children’s graphic novel is a historically significant text, it should be kept in the library’s collection, and therefore was placed in the Hunt Collection to preserve it and allow access to those interested in viewing it.

The Hunt Collection is located on the third floor of the Central Library in Grand Army Plaza, and consists of about 7,000 juvenile books, pamphlets, and periodicals dating back to the 1740s.

Also in this archive are 10 rare editions of “Alice in Wonderland” and some of the earliest children’s pop-up books.

Library spokesperson Stefanie Arck said that in the past three years there have been 12 challenges from patrons to yank certain books and DVDs off the shelves, including Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and Woody Allen’s film “Mighty Aphrodite.”

“This is the first case of 12 where we relocated the book due to the challenge,” she said, adding that it is the only copy in the Brooklyn Public Library system.

Arck said the Hunt Collection is not a “banned” collection and includes classic children’s literary texts, special limited and illustrated editions, and books written and/or illustrated by people affiliated with Brooklyn at some point in their career.

The titles kept here are often out of print, rare and of historical significance, she said.

Arck said such works as Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Capricorn” remain on the shelves.

“Tintin au Congo,” a colonial adventure story about a Belgian boy and his dog in the Congo, has in recent times also courted controversy in Europe for both its depiction of Africans and animal cruelty.

Steven Spielberg is currently making a movie based on the book.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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