Challenge Boosts Demand for ‘Waterland’ at Local Libraries
Canton, Plymouth libraries each report sizable waiting lists for novel at center of PCEP book challenge.
Those intrigued by the local debate surrounding Graham Swift’s Waterland might have to get in line if they plan to borrow the book from a local library.
The book, which drew controversy when it was pulled from Plymouth-Canton’s AP English curriculum in December after a parent complained about its sexual content, has a long waiting list of potential borrowers at both Canton Public Library and Plymouth District Library.
Lisa Davis-Craig, who works at Canton Public Library’s information desk, said the waiting list in Canton is at 24 while Plymouth’s library is at 26.
Rebecca Havenstein-Coughlin, the Canton library’s adult services department head, said the spike in demand isn’t unusual for a book that has made local headlines. She equated the recent boost to when the library has authors speak or when a hit film is based on a book.
“When there’s an interest in the community, (the readers) are coming to their local library,” Havenstein-Coughlin said.
To help meet demand, Havenstein-Coughlin said the library ordered additional copies of Waterland, all of which remain checked out.
While the debate continues to surround Waterland as it undergoes a review by a committee assembled by the district to help determine its reinstatement in the classroom, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, challenged by the same parents, also has seen a mild increase in interest at the library.
Davis-Craig said both communities’ libraries were checked out of Beloved, with Canton reporting a waiting list of six people, while Plymouth has five.
An opportunity for discussion
Havenstein-Coughlin said the debate over the books has created an opportunity for those in the community to discuss the book in “a nice, neutral spot” as the library plans book discussions for both Beloved and Waterland.
The books' appropriateness for Plymouth-Canton classrooms won’t be discussed, Havenstein-Coughlin said, but the book’s content will be analyzed much like the library’s regular, librarian-led book discussions.
“The focus is on the book, not the controversy,” she said.
She said the forum provides an opportunity “for civil discourse to take place.”
The discussion for Beloved is Feb. 27 from 7-8:30 p.m. Four seats remain, and the library has copies of the book set aside for those who wish to participate.
The discussion for Waterland will take place March 27, and registration for that discussion will begin in about two weeks, Havenstein-Coughlin said. Those interested in joining either discussion can contact the Canton Public Library at (734) 397-0999.