The New York Public Library says that it will not pull six “controversial” Dr. Seuss books from shelves and, instead, will keep the books in circulation until the existing copies are worn out.
“The New York Public Library will keep six controversial Dr. Seuss books on the shelves despite this week’s decision to cease their publication due to racist imagery,” the New York Post reported Thursday. “The library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, said it does not censor books and will keep the controversial titles in circulation until they are no longer in suitable shape to lend out, a spokeswoman said.”
“As with all public libraries the New York Public Library does not censor books,” library spokeswoman Angela Montefinise told the Post.
“In this case, the six titles in question are being pulled out of print by Dr. Seuss Enterprises, so the very few copies we have of these titles will continue to circulate until they are no longer in acceptable condition,” she added.
The library, however, will not go out of its way to promote the six titles.
“In the meantime, librarians, who care deeply about serving their communities and ensuring accurate and diverse representation in our collections — especially children’s books — will certainly strongly consider this information when planning storytimes, displays, and recommendations,” Mintefinise said.
The six books — “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer” — were yanked from publication earlier this week amid allegations that the books contain “racist” and “insensitive” imagery.
“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that owns the rights to publish Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel’s works told The Associated Press.
“Dr. Seuss Enterprises listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics, and specialists in the field as part of our review process,” the company noted to the AP. “We then worked with a panel of experts, including educators, to review our catalog of titles.”
The decision does not affect the majority of Dr. Seuss’s titles in publication and was not, initially, an effort to “cancel” the popular children’s author. But subsequent decisions from the White House, which scrubbed Dr. Seuss from its “Read Across America Day” events — despite the celebration being timed to coincide with Dr. Seuss’s birthday — and from Universal Studios, which said it was “reevaluating” its Seuss-themed land following the allegations, seem to indicate that Dr. Seuss is about to face a more significant cultural reckoning.
Libraries, though, have largely pushed back on the “cancelation.” In addition to the New York Public Library, the Denver Public Library said, earlier this week, that they would also allow access to the books.
“Libraries across the country are having conversations around how to balance our core values of intellectual freedom with the harmful stereotypes depicted in many children’s classics,” the Denver library said in its own statement. “The freedom of choice in what a person decides to read is here to stay and the value of reading for any child is critical in their development.”