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Local Libraries Can't Keep Steamy Novel On Shelves

More that 1,300 are waiting to borrow a copy of 'Fifty Shades of Grey.'

If you are looking for a copy of the steamy trilogy, “Fifty Shades of Grey,” don’t bother going to your local library. 

“Nobody in the county has it on their shelf,” said Sandra Collins, executive director of in McCandless. 

To check the number of copies and status of books at all the Allegheny County libraries, click here. You'll see the book is either checked out or on hold at

Public libraries in several states have banned the books, saying they are either too sexually explicit, or too poorly written. 

In Fond du Lac, Wis., the library did not order any copies, saying the books did not meet the standards of the community. In Georgia, the Gwinnett County Public Library, near Atlanta, declined to make the books available in its 15 branches, saying that the trilogy’s graphic writing violated its no-erotica policy, reported the New York Times. 

But that’s not the case here.

“There are about 183 copies shared among 45 libraries in Allegheny County and right now 1,326 have requests for holds,” Collins said. “I think people are more interested because of the hype, rather than it being good literature.” 

In the first six weeks the book has been available through new American publisher Vintage, Fifty Shades of Grey has sold 10 million copies. That’s about 25 percent of the adult fiction market, the Los Angeles Times reported. 

The novel, by British author E. L. James, tells the story of a love affair between naive college student Anastasia and Christian, a billionaire with a taste for sexual dominance. 

“There have been titles in the past that have caused just as much attention either by the media or through word of mouth. This one is the current one, because it’s perhaps a little more risqué,” said Collins. “It’s not an unusual phenomenon, Harry Potter books did the same thing.”

Collins admitted the decision to add such books to the collection can be difficult, but the hype surrounding Fifty Shades of Grey ended any debate. 

“It’s one of those books that is marginal for making it into the collection. One of our responsibilities as a public library is to have material in the collection that’s a cultural reference, that’s being talked about. If there had not been a lot of attention given to the book, it may not have made the collection,” Collins said.

 

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