19 August 2009

Tintin in the Congo causing trouble again

The National Coalition Against Censorship blogs today about the decision by the Brooklyn Public Library to remove Tintin in the Congo from its circulating collection. They will still keep the book, but it will now be housed in a special collection. This is basically the age-old compromise for librarians when faced with material of a "difficult" (i.e. controversial) nature: make the book available, just make it difficult to find. Although most librarians probably consider themselves as protectors of intellectual freedom (I know I do) and like to think that they would fight to the death to allow readers access to a book--any book!--(fortunately I've not yet been asked to do so,) it is probably fair to say that most librarians also choose their battles. Books like To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank, even the Harry Potter books, have cache, and it is easy to imagine most librarians standing up for these classics. But Tintin in the Congo has had a hard time finding defenders. I blogged about this issue in 2007 when Little Brown made the decision not to republish the book in the United States, despite the fact that the entire Tintin collection was at the time being reissued as a box set. And not having read the book myself (how can I? It is not easy to locate in this country,) I cannot comment on its historical or literary value. In the case of Tintin the Congo, I now have the feeling of collusion between publishers and libraries who have effectively between them made this book unavailable to anyone, buyers or borrowers. That is neither honest nor good.


Isa said...

Kara, your brother used to have a copy of that book! :-D

Kara Schaff Dean said...

Really? I can't remember seeing it.

Chris Tregenza said...

It is quite easy to find PDF's of all Tintin adventures, including his two controversial trips to Congo and the Soviet Union.

Normally I don't promote piracy, but in case like this I think it is acceptable for personal research.

Kara Schaff Dean said...

Well I just might hunt down a copy to read for Banned Book Week!

Isa said...

I have both books. But the congo I have is in french (I have never seen it in English) - W

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