Round-Up: Librarian of Congress Nominated, VA Law Blocks Books, and a Serial Killer’s Book Also Blocked

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From Obama’s nomination for the next Librarian of Congress to a serial killer’s controversial book, the latest developments in literary news:

  • President Obama has nominated Carla Hayden as the next Librarian of Congress. Hayden is currently the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland and was president of the American Library Association from 2003 to 2004. Hayden would be the fourteenth Librarian of Congress, the first woman to hold the position, and the first African American to hold the position. If the senate approves Obama’s appointment, Hayden will serve a term of ten years.
  • Last week, Virginia lawmakers decided to move forward with legislation that would give parents the option to block their children from reading books that contain sexually explicit content in schools. The bill would require teachers to identify sexually explicit material and notify parents. Parents would then have the option to “opt out” and the student would be assigned something deemed more appropriate. A Fairfax mother, Laura Murphy, brought this to lawmakers in response to her son being assigned Beloved by Toni Morrison. Murphy said the book, along with a number of other literary classics, is inappropriate for young readers. Virginia schools also follow a similar opt-out policy when it comes to sexual-education classes.
  • A Canadian serial killer’s book, Pickton: In His Own Words, has been pulled from Amazon out of respect for his victims and their families. The book, detailing Robert Pickton’s life story, was written by Pickton and briefly sat on Amazon Canada’s bestseller list. After a petition to stop the sale of the book accumulated 58,000 signatures, the publisher, Outskirts Press, asked Amazon to take it off the site. Outskirts will also not print any additional copies of the book and apologized to the families of the victims. The U.S., as well as some provinces in Canada, currently has a “Son of Sam law” prohibiting criminals from making a profit off their crimes.