Library books removed for homosexuality themes will not be given away, says NLB chief executive

The National Library Board (NLB) has received at least one offer to buy all copies of the three children's books it removed this year, as well as suggestions to donate them to groups willing to carry them.

But chief executive Elaine Ng said yesterday: "That's not something that we're thinking about at the moment. We appreciate all the suggestions, we're grateful for all the caring critics who have taken the trouble to share their thoughts.

"This is something we've withdrawn and at the moment we are staying with that decision."

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The NLB usually sells discarded books or donates them to independent libraries or charities. Ms Ng said old books are regularly pulped or recycled, for example, "magazines that are really worn and tattered" or "cookbooks that people have torn pages out from" and are unsuitable for sale.

"Books that are withdrawn, we would pulp them because we can't put them in a book sale," she added.

The library has three copies of two of the controversial titles: two of And Tango Makes Three and one of The White Swan Express, and The Sunday Times was shown a copy of each yesterday. Ms Ng could not provide information about the third book, Who's In My Family?

Theatre director Selena Tan had offered in an open e-mail to the NLB to buy the books, although she was not confident it would change its mind on withdrawing the books.

She told The Sunday Times: "I hope they are taking the time to think things through and that they will come up with a reasonable response in the near future. I hope that, in the meantime, they will refrain from destroying these books."

Akshita Nanda

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