As part of our series commemorating the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Deseronto Public Library, we highlight an item in the minutes of the Library Board’s meeting held on December 13, 1898:

1892 edition of Tess of the D'Urbervilles

The question of refusal on part of the Librarian to issue certain books to various individuals was raised by the Secretary who took the ground that we should not have books in the Library at all about which there was any reasonable doubt. Several books were named among which were the following:-

The Lady of Quality [‘A Lady of Quality’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1896]
Maggie [by Stephen Crane, 1893]
Tess of Duberville [‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ by Thomas Hardy, 1891]
On the Sunny Shore [by Henryk Sienkiewicz, 1897]

It was moved by Mr. Costigan, seconded by Mr. Copland that we expunge these books entirely.

The Librarian was instructed that outside of these books he was hereafter to refuse no person provided the books desired were in the Library.

An interesting approach to the problem! All of these once-controversial books are now freely available on the Internet, so you can see why they were considered to be inappropriate reading for some of the town’s residents by following the links on the titles to the Open Library.