Joe Ferguson | March 1, 2013
Steve McQueen became a box office star when he drove a 1968 Ford Mustang GT to its limits while portraying a police detective in the movie “Bullitt.”
In his personal life, the popular movie star moved even faster — he was married three times, professionally raced cars, drank and smoked heavily and reportedly the police once found a hit list with his name on it.
But not everyone thinks his biography — “Steve McQueen, King of Cool: Tales of a Lurid Life” — should be on the shelves of the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Public Library.
The book was one of a handful that have been “challenged” by library patrons over the last few years in an attempt to have them removed or placed in a specific section of the building, explains Heidi Holland, the director for the local library district.
While there have been numerous complaints over the years, Holland cannot recall a single book that has been removed from the stacks because of them.
The district follows the American Library Association protocols for “challenged” books, she said.
“When we receive a request to remove an item from the library, it is reviewed by library supervisors and then by the Flagstaff City-Coconino County Library Board,” Holland explains.
The board then votes on a recommendation on how to handle each complaint.
Holland said a library boardmember volunteered to review the tome chronicling the life and times of McQueen and reported back to the citizen-run group. The book still resides on library shelves for anyone to read, albeit in the adult section.
The library also owns “Banned Books, Challenging Our Freedom to Read.” The book details incidents of book banning from 387 BC to 2010.
“By the way, this book is also on the list,” Holland added.
The most common complaint, she says, occurs in the Youth Services Department when someone believes that a particular book or other form of media is inappropriate for minors.
Two graphic novels have recently been challenged by one local resident and resulted in two different outcomes.
“Gankutsuo: The Count of Monte Cristo” is a story of high school life with characters who are sons and daughters of Greek gods and had both mass murder and sexually explicit references. After review, it was moved to the adult section of the library.
“Pantheon High,” which contains description of nudity and portrays the murder of at least one character, was catalogued as “Young Adult.”
The designation indicates the book is for older teens and was allowed to stay in the Young Adult area of the library.
A book titled “Whale Talk” has been challenged, with a patron contending the front cover of a boy running “was too visual to have at eye level of younger patrons.”
The book stayed in the library after the review, but it was moved to a higher shelf.
The library district does remove books from the shelves regularly, but mostly when they become out of date or have not been checked for an extended period of time.