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Book-Banning Vote Not Likely Until August

The debate over whether to ban Jim Carroll's "Basketball Diaries" from Gwinnett County libraries probably will not be resolved before August.

County Solicitor Gerald Blaney, who was asked for an opinion on whether the book meets the state definition of being harmful to minors, won't reveal his conclusion until the library board can meet. But with several members taking vacations, the full board cannot get together until the first week of August, library director Jo Ann Pinder said.

Board members are anxiously awaiting word from Blaney. "I don't know why he doesn't just put his decision in writing and send it to us," Chairman Andy Pourchier said. Blaney did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

The Gwinnett Library Board voted 2-1 June 8 to ban the book if it is found to be harmful to minors under state law. One board member was absent, and Pourchier did not vote because the chairman can vote only to break a tie.

State law requires booksellers to keep materials that are harmful to minors out of their reach. Libraries are exempt from that law, and thus protected from penalty for picking up an inappropriate book among their numerous acquisitions.

Board member Jennifer Toombs, who called for the vote on "Basketball Diaries," said she wants the public library to live by the same rule as the private sector, but does not want to ban the book unless it is found to fit the state definition that would require booksellers to put it under wraps.

The book is Carroll's account of growing up in New York, where he went from being a youth basketball star to being a heroin addict who engaged in prostitution to support his habit. It all takes place in his pre-teens and early teens and includes graphic descriptions of drug abuse and a variety of sexual acts. The author also is a poet and a rocker perhaps best known for his song "People Who Died."

A movie version of the book starring Leonardo DiCaprio gained notoriety when a Kentucky youth claimed the film inspired him to go on a shooting spree, killing or injuring several classmates.


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