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COUNTYWIDE : Librarians Resist Efforts to Ban Books

Children’s books have raised more eyebrows of would-be censors in Ventura County over the past year than even the most violent or sex-filled adult novels, according to a report by the county Library Services Agency.

Books about rabble-rousing rabbits and vindictive slugs have caused a stir among some parents, who contend that the material is not fit for young readers and should be trashed--or at least banned from the shelves.

But county library officials are reluctant to remove the books.

“We can’t take one narrow view and apply it to all the population,” said Sonia J. Church, children’s library services manager for the county. Church will join her colleagues and free-press advocates in proclaiming this Banned Books Week.

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“If a book has redeeming social or artistic value, it’s going to stay on the shelf,” Church said.

Works by Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll and Judy Blume have been banned at various schools nationwide, and county readers have made 11 requests to have certain volumes pulled from local libraries. But, so far, not a single children’s book has been removed.

Church said a book called “Slugs” by David Greenberg has prompted the most complaints, simply because “people think it’s gross.”

Meanwhile, people in other countries are begging for books.

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Actor-writer Terri New, who organized efforts to ship books to literature-starved Czechs in 1990, spoke to patrons at the Prueter Library in Port Hueneme last week about the importance of a free press.

For the past 40 years, she said, a totalitarian government prohibited many fiction and nonfiction works in Czechoslovakia. A generation of readers has gone without knowledge of Freud, Shakespeare and modern philosophy.

New, who lives in Santa Barbara, has arranged the shipment of 20 tons of books to the country “on any and all subjects.”

The library will collect more books for Czechoslovakia over the next month.

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