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Comfort from Being Rejected by the West Point Library

My book, "The Ordinary Life of a Military Woman" is currently on www.amazon.com and www.publishamerica.com and seems to be doing well. It is written as FICTION but is an account of my active duty experiences. All names and ranks were changed. I donated a copy of it to the West Point library and after keeping it a month, in which several people read it, it was returned to me. I explained to the West Point Librarian that it contained some sensitive subjects and was true to life but she seemed eager to read it. She returned it to me with a "nice" letter saying it was not welcomed there. Was it because of the inter-racial relationship or from the same sex experience? I don't know. I feel terrible and was wondering, does she have to right to keep the public from reading something I wrote? Is this not author censorship? What is next for her to reject? Thank you for any advice.

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I'm not sure what avenue that I'm going to take but thanks to you all, I at least have somewhere to start. If/when anything happens, I'll make a new post. Thank you all very much and I believe that I answered all.
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It would depend on the type of library. Is the West Point library a special library or public base library? It isn't necessarily censorship. It may be because the book doesn't fit into the mission of the library. Libraries have to be selective of materials especially when it comes to available space in the collection. If it isn't pertinent to the collection or the library's mission, it will most likely not be added to the collection. Collection development specialists make this decision based on policies as well as readership needs.

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Really and truely it's a military library, they have standards and rules about what stays. Maybe they like me thought about what you wrote as drama and since it's not educational they didn't need/want it...maybe it's just not something they want to keep around as it might be too truthful. I know my first thoughts were that you were trying to stir up trouble with the relationships in it that you described.

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Hey Lady!! Well I would just like to inform the visitors of Mamasource that I have read your book and I found it to be EXTREMELY well written. Yes, there were some pretty "touchy" situations, but none that no one has ever NOT experienced or known someone who has. It was "real-life" as you experienced it during your time in the military and a majority of it was heart wrenching. To see you and know you an outsider would not know the pain and heartache that you went through or what you suffered because of the grace in which you carry yourself. I am very grateful to have met your aquaintance and consider you my friend. I'm just waiting for the next book to come out!!! Do not be disheartened with the rejection of West Point Library a lot of people walk around with "rose-colored glasses" on and refuse to recognize truth in all its glory because "THEY CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH" (HA HA) Continue to spread your message through your writings and don't give up sending your book to other libraries in the area. Maybe West Point won't carry it (as it is their personal choice) but others might. And when you receive your professional commentaries on your book West Point might have to swallow their words of rejection and have you back for a book signing. Now THAT will be something!!!
Your Sister-in-Christ, L.

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You shouldn't feel terrible. What a great success to have published a book! I think she definitely has the right to return your book. As you mentioned, it's available on other sources for the public to read and doing well. In every office, library, church or school, there is someone who screens material, makes hiring decisions, uses or doesn't use certain vendors. They are hired to do this and their opinion is respected but doesn't have to be that of everyone else. We have to accept that. Continue to promote your book in other ways.

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that is really very tough. have you looked into discussing it with a different library? i would hate to think that such 'sensitive' issues like the one above would keep them from circulating it, but anything is possible. i would also ask around to find out if this person is the only one to make selections for the library shelves. find out where else it can be placed in your area, and in the area of the library in question. (ie a civilian library nearby) the sad fact is that both racism and other prejudices are still around, although not as welcome. either could be a factor. please keep us up to date on your progress with the issue, or feel free to email me (my email should be on my profile.) I hope this is resolved for you.

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Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on ones perspective) it is not author censorship to say that you do not want to carry a book - even in a library.

It may be that your book caused a stir and was not worth (to them - I am not judging your book as I have not read it) the trouble that was involved in carrying it. I am very sorry that you faced this issue and I am sure it does feel like you are being shut out, but I do not see how it could seem like censorship. If they came back and said they would carry your book, but it had to be censored then that would be something. However, they are just saying they do not want to shelve it and I don't think that they have to.

I don't agree with it, but if you pushed the issue that is probably what you would be told. I wish you the best and I am glad your book is available somewhere - maybe I will check it out - it sounds interesting.

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It's the military. From your experience you know how that what they say goes. And since they don't need to justify their thinking it often leads us spouses in the dark. I just wouldn't take it personally. I know they are really picky up at West Point about everything. Someone probably had a complaint against the book which made them decide to send it back. You could however send a copy to any post or base library. I'm sure they would love to have the addition to their collection. Especially if it is a smaller station. I know here at Fort Polk, we have some slim pickins when it comes to reading material. Also I am sure the public libraries near a post would take it. I think more people would be able to read it that way too. Congratulations on your book being published! What a fantastic accomplishment!!

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I am a librarian, and it is possible that your book simply did not fit in with that particular library's collection development policy. There are thousands of books published every year, and it is simply not possible to include them all in any one library (except the Library of Congress, which keeps a copy of every book published in the US). Many library policies state that for a book to be included it needs to have a certain number of positive professional reviews. Others juggle numbers between fiction/non-fiction/reference/etc. School libraries often require a connection to the curriculum. These are just a few examples of the intricacies of collection development policies. Any donated book is usually accepted only with the caveat that it will NOT necessarily be included in the collection, and that it may be sold for a fund-raiser, donated, or discarded as necessary. There are many books in any library that treat issues the librarian may not agree with, but that in and of itself is not a reason to not include it in the collection. Hopefully you will be able to get some professional reviews for your book, and have better luck getting it into your local library in the future.

1 mom found this helpful

It would depend on the type of library. Is the West Point library a special library or public base library? It isn't necessarily censorship. It may be because the book doesn't fit into the mission of the library. Libraries have to be selective of materials especially when it comes to available space in the collection. If it isn't pertinent to the collection or the library's mission, it will most likely not be added to the collection. Collection development specialists make this decision based on policies as well as readership needs.

1 mom found this helpful

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