Poll: Should Norfolk libraries display ‘near the knuckle’ teen magazines?

Alan Quinn, who is against Norfolk libraries stocking teen magazines.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Alan Quinn, who is against Norfolk libraries stocking teen magazines.PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk's library chiefs have reviewed and given the all-clear to the teen magazines that are on its shelves, following fears that some are too 'near the knuckle'.

The library service launched the review of all of its magazines for the teenage market after former teacher and Ofsted inspector Alan Quinn called for them to be removed.

Mr Quinn, a 72-year-old grandfather from Burgh Road, Aylsham, said the magazines indicated that the service was 'dumbing down', and questioned whether the magazines had a 'positive influence' on young people.

He was concerned that some of the magazines encouraged pre-teen girls to think about diets, dating and sex, beauty and fashion.

He said: 'If libraries are trying to attract people and get them to read, they shouldn't be offering them these magazines.'

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He added: 'I don't think it does them any good. I feel sorry for them. One of the richnesses of our lives is our childhood. I hate to see it pressurised and parents losing control because of outside influences.'

On seeing some boots advertised on a fashion page in Mizz at £90, Mr Quinn said: 'You just wonder what pressure this puts on parents it terms of buying these things so that their child can keep up. Should we be paying for such inappropriate material in our libraries for youngsters?'

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He began writing to Norfolk's library service in May 2011 suggesting they could save taxpayers' money at a time of cutbacks by getting rid of all the magazines available.

They included titles like Good Housekeeping, NME, Tatler, Sugar, Teen Vogue, Bliss, Heat, Beat, Cooler, Karrang and Mizz.

A spokesman for the library service said about 1.5pc of the total materials fund for the 47 county libraries was spent on magazines, and added: 'Magazines have an important role in improving literacy. Many people, including teenagers, find reading books challenging, but can access magazines more easily.'

The spokesman said: 'Staff check each issue to judge the content, cover images and headlines before making a decision on where to display magazines.

'We continue to consider safeguarding issues of all kinds in our public libraries and we would hope that parents are supervising children's and younger teens' choice of reading material and discussing it with them.

'As children mature at different rates, parents are in the best position to discuss reading choices with their children.'

He said senior staff had 'revisited all the titles we take in the light of Mr Quinn's concerns and believe that those magazines that we supply take a responsible editorial line while still appealing to the interests of young people'.

And he added: 'We have also investigated guidelines which publishers sign up to and reminded staff to take account of headlines and content so that items are displayed appropriately.'

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