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Monday, May 28, 2012

'50 Shades of Grey' to return to Florida library shelves

MELBOURNE, Fla. -- Less than a month after Fifty Shades of Grey was pulled from local library shelves, officials plan to put the erotic best-seller back in circulation as early as next week, according to the chairman of the Brevard County Commission.

Book covers from the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series. Vintage Books, AP

Book covers from the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series.

Vintage Books, AP

Book covers from the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series.

Chuck Nelson said Friday that County Manager Howard Tipton and Assistant County Manager Stockton Whitten, who oversees library operations, told him during separate briefings Thursday and Friday that the novel once more will be available to library patrons. Details are being worked out.

"Given where we are today," making the book available to library patrons would be "a reasonable approach," said Nelson, adding that e-mails and phone calls to his office ran heavily in favor of the book's return.

"I never want to be in a position where we appear to be censoring or banning books."

County spokesman Don Walker said the county manager's office plans an announcement next week, but no final decision has been made.

The county's Fifty Shades saga started when Cathy Schweinsberg, Brevard's library services director, decided to pull the system's 19 copies after reading the book. At the time, she said that the library had "erred in our selection process and are correcting the error, and, thus, it is not censorship."

Officials said then they would review policies by which books are selected, purchased and reconsidered.

But after Florida Today's first story about the ban appeared May 4, a national conversation ensued, with anti-censorship advocates demanding a return of the book by British author E.L. James. The first installment in a trilogy, it tops nationwide best-seller lists and features explicit sexual scenes.

Linda Tyndall of Viera and her 16-year-old daughter, Becca, started an online petition asking for the book's return that drew almost 2,000 signatures.

Tyndall said that while she might have understood had the library simply not purchased Fifty Shades -- many libraries nationwide have chosen not to buy it -- she would have fought as hard for the return of any book that was purchased and pulled.

"I'm very happy to have played a role in it," she said. "I do think the petition got the word out. … Anybody who spoke up against censorship needs to pat themselves on the back."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida notified commissioners this week that it was considering legal action against the county.

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