Libraries remove Zwarte Piet books: ‘moving with society’

Libraries remove Zwarte Piet books: ‘moving with society’
Libraries remove Zwarte Piet books: ‘moving with society’

Libraries in the Netherlands are busy removing books with the traditional Zwarte Piet. That says the Association of Public Libraries (VOB) in the AD.

According to VOB director Anton Kok, this is in line with social developments in the Netherlands. “Everywhere there is a growing realization that Zwarte Piet gives a stereotype image of a certain part of the population and the libraries are moving along with it,” he says in the newspaper. Kok did not want to respond substantively to the NOS.

Kok thinks it is normal that books occasionally disappear from the collection: “In the course of time numerous books have been removed because they were contrary to morality. I am thinking of the children’s books in which the population of the Dutch East Indies were put away as packers. “

Other types of Petes

Tineke van Ham is director of Rijnbrink, the consultancy organization for libraries in Gelderland and Overijssel. She echoes Kok’s words, she says in it NOS Radio 1 News: “Libraries are moving along with this social conversation.”

Research by the EenVandaag Opinion panel shows that slightly more than half of the Dutch want Zwarte Piet to remain black. Kok says that is no reason to keep the books: “Some people also see fascism. And yes, that sounds crude, but I mean that a squadron cannot determine our policy.”

From now on people can still go to the library for a book with Zwarte Piet. “I don’t think that on a large scale Zwarte Piet books will disappear at once. But you will see more books that do justice to other types of Petes,” says Van Ham.

Take it with you for free

Copies that go out of the collection usually end up in a cupboard with written off books, where they can be bought for a small amount. That could also happen with books with Zwarte Piet. In some cases, books are so worn that library users can take them with them for free.

Is Zwarte Piet cultural heritage or an outdated, racist phenomenon? Watch this video:

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