A romantic novel that was banned from the Swift Current Library 95 years ago, has been reinstated.
The Sheik spent 13 months (June 1922-July 1923) on the shelves of the library before being removed for nearly a century until last week.
Andrea McCrimmon, the manager of the Swift Current Branch Library, said they aren't exactly sure why the erotic and at the time controversial novel was disallowed but they can speculate with the library opening only a few years before (1918) and struggling financially.
"They were at that time struggling to establish the library as a legal entity," she explained. "They were supporting the library through donations from service clubs, private donations, and they were just starting to get support from the City. The library board at that time was working really hard to increase public support and there was a really strong religious influence in the community. I think those facts played into why the book was removed at that time."
While McCrimmon and other staff were unable to locate a specific reason the book was banned, they did find in the history of the library an account by Ted Michie, the librarian from 1949-1967. He stated he had the minutes from the 1923 meeting in which the book was forbidden and wrote that the documents reflect "a measure of life in a more genteel age."
"And then we found the accession records in the museum," she said. "These are the handwritten records of all the books added to the libraries' collection and taken out of the libraries' collect, so we found those going back all the way to the opening of the library in 1918. We found the entry for The Sheik and next to it is recorded removed in 1923.
"It might be one of Swift Current's biggest mysteries."
A special meeting last Wednesday night was organized by the library board to decide the fate of the bestseller during Freedom to Read Week.
"We had a really great talk about the contents of the book and why people might have found it controversial and why people might have loved it," McCrimmon said. "In the end, the public gave their input and were in support of allowing the library to reintroduce the book."
The library board made the final decision with a vote, allowing the book to be added back into the catalogue.