John Green criticizes public library for removing his novel from young adult section

Author and YouTuber John Green spoke out against an Indiana library’s decision to move his novel “The Fault in Our Stars” out of its young adult (YA) section.

Green called the removal an “embarrassment” in a tweet on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“The Fault in Our Stars has been removed from the YA section in the suburbs of Indianapolis and is now considered a ‘book for adults.’ This is ludicrous. It is about teenagers and I wrote it for teenagers. Teenagers are not harmed by reading TFIOS,” he continued.

The Hamilton East Public Library Board of Trustees published a list of YA books that it plans on relocating to the general fiction sections of its libraries, located in Fishers, Indiana and Noblesville, Indiana.

“The Fault in Our Stars” follows the romantic relationship between two teen cancer patients. Green’s novel “Looking for Alaska” is also on the list.

The list reflects an ongoing project by the library under its collection development policy, which presents guidelines for selecting books for its collections.

The policy states that “the Library will work to ensure that collections are age appropriate in topic and placement of materials” for children and teenagers.

“‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green was relocated based on criteria included in the Board-approved Hamilton East Public Library Collection Development Policy,” Kelsey Sweet, director of marketing and communications for the Hamilton East Public Library, told NBC News in an email.

She added that the book is still labeled in the library’s online catalog as a book for young adult audiences and “is available to check out in print, audio, and electronic formats.”

The library consider factors such as nudity, alcohol and drug use, repeated use of profanity, depictions or incitement to violence and sexual content in determining what is “age appropriate.”

As a result of this policy, staffers have been reviewing books and determining if they are fit to be in the children’s or teen’s sections. Young adult books that do not pass reviews are put into the adult section.

“This policy also includes a process for patrons to object to the placement of any item in the collection,” Sweet said in an email, referring to the library’s reconsideration form.

In regards to the library’s policy, Green tweeted: “I only have a small voice in these decisions, of course, but you won’t catch me alive or dead in Fishers, Indiana until these ridiculous policies are revoked.”

The Hamilton East Public Library has received criticism from community members since the new collection development policy was announced in April.

Critics told local broadcaster WISH at the time that the policy encouraged censorship and wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

The Board of Trustees estimated the cost of the project would be over $335,000 and would take 8,000 hours to complete. The library has over 18,000 items in the children’s and teen’s section to review. Meeting minutes from July 27 show that 74.4% of the project remains.

The Hamilton East Public Library’s collection project comes during a contentious time for libraries across the country. The American Library Association reported a record number of attempted book bans in 2022, over half of which featured LGBTQ topics.

In Green’s X replies, Fisher, Indiana community members urged the author, who is based near Indianapolis, to attend the next library board meeting to help combat the project.

“We could really use your help at the next HEPL board meeting. We need as big of a spotlight on this board’s actions as possible,” one person wrote.

“I know you will be boycotting Fishers. But the HEPL next board meeting I do believe will be August 24th. I know many of us would appreciate it if you would voice your thoughts to them. Many of us in Hamilton County think their implemented policy is asinine,” said another.

Green did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He posted a longer statement on X urging the library to “walk this awful policy back and allow the real experts to decide where to shelve my books and those of my colleagues.”

“I am your neighbor,” he said in his statement. “And I am absolutely horrified by the decision of some of your board to override a huge body of expertise and deem hundreds of books — including mine — inappropriate to be shelved as Young Adult Literature.”

Green also tweeted his gratitude toward librarians, tweeting that their work is “absolutely essential to making art and information available to all — even amid absurdly difficult working conditions.”

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