Local librarian discusses defending book deemed offensive by patron

February 14, 2019

Kaplan Family Library presents on why books are banned

Madelyn Folino ‘73, director of the Florida Public Library in Florida, N.Y., discussed successfully blocking a ban on the children’s book King & King.

Madelyn Folino, director of the Florida Public Library in Florida, N.Y., recently presented “Defending a Dangerous Book” at Mount Saint Mary College as part of the Mount’s Library Week.

The 13th annual Library Week celebration, spearheaded by the college’s Kaplan Family Library and Learning Center, examined why and how books are banned. 

Folino, a 1973 graduate of the Mount, related the story of how she came to defend a children’s picture book – one that she didn’t even particularly love – against efforts to have it banned from the Florida Public Library system. As Folino explained it, the incident began when a library patron took out the book King & King and read it to her children, only to be upset by the book’s conclusion. The book tells the story of a prince’s reluctant search for love as his parents push him to get married. Despite meeting a bevy of princesses, he doesn’t make a connection until the end of the book, when he finds love with another prince.

The library patron asked to have King & King removed from the system because she felt it was inappropriate. Folino noted that the library system has set criteria for book selection, and a process for challenging a book’s selection as well. With research and guidance from several sources, including the American Library Association, Folino was able to successfully navigate the challenge, and prevent the book from being banned in the library. Later, Folino was awarded the Intellectual Freedom Award from the NYS Library Association for her efforts.

As Barbara Petruzzelli, director of the Kaplan Family Library pointed out, many people think of book banning as a thing of the past, but it’s still happening today in ways both small and large. She called Folino “a true defender of your right to read.”

Folino has been director of the Florida Public Library for more than 20 years and a professional storyteller for three decades. She is the recipient of New York Library Association’s (NYLA) Moshier/Wynkoop Award for best practices and is a founder of the Black Dirt Storytelling Guild. Her latest project has been performing her fringe show of family stories and folktales in the Hudson Valley and beyond.