Woman asks local library to pull book
A book by David Letterman's sidekick, Paul Shaffer, caused a small dust-up at the Mitchell Public Library this summer.
Mitchell resident Gladys Baldwin asked to have Shaffer's 2009 book, "We'll Be Here For The Rest of Our Lives," removed from the library. She thought the book, which is filled with show business stories and tales of Shaffer's upbringing in Canada, was objectionable, according to City Councilwoman Geri Beck.
"That is certainly in the eye of the beholder," Beck said.
She serves as the council's ex-officio representative on the library's board of trustees, and said the book was discussed by the board and found to be acceptable. It was never removed from the library's shelves, Beck said.
Shaffer, in a comment sent to The Daily Republic by a CBS media relations staffer, said he was glad people had the freedom to discuss his book.
"We are fortunate to live in a country where a woman like that can file a complaint without recrimination," Shaffer said in the e-mail.
The book tells some ribald stories. Shaffer performed in a topless club in Toronto, Canada, when he was starting out, which is where he got the title of the book. Those are the words he would use to close every show.
Baldwin said she thought the book was too frank in its depictions and discussions of sex and sexual matters.
"Yes, I certainly do," she said. "He didn't need to put that in. Otherwise, the book is all right."
Shaffer was a member of the original "Saturday Night Live" band, toured with The Blues Brothers and has been the musical director of Letterman's late-night shows on NBC and CBS since 1982.
During that time, he crossed paths with a lot of celebrities and collected a great deal of stories. From hanging out backstage with Bob Dylan to touring with John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd and worshipping Jerry Lewis with his fellow Canadian performers, Shaffer shares show biz stories in a breezy manner in the book.
The request to remove "We'll Be Here For The Rest of Our Lives" caught the library board by surprise, Beck said.
"It's very unusual," she said. "I think the last time was the 'Harry Potter' books."
Baldwin submitted comments to Library Director Jackie Hess but did not appear before the board, Beck said.
Once Baldwin was told the book would not be removed, she accepted the decision, Beck said. "I think she has moved on," she said.
However, Baldwin said she still wonders about the process.
"I thought, 'Well, is that the kind of book the library board likes to promote?' " she said. "Or am I just sensitive?"
Hess has worked at the library since 1980 and has been the director since 1986. Such requests are extremely rare, she said.
"I can't remember the last time we had one," she said. "It must have been five or six years ago."
No book has ever been removed from the library because of a patron's request, Hess said. Some are disposed of because people aren't reading them.
She said when the protest was lodged, she skimmed the book and found two reviews of it.
"The two reviews were from Publishers Weekly and the Sunday New York Times Book Review," Hess said. "They didn't say there was anything wrong or objectionable."
Hess said state and national library intellectual freedom committees were notified of the request to remove the book.
"What offends one person might not offend another," she said. "People will either check it out or they won't."
Beck, who said she's "not into the music scene," has not read the book but said after hearing some of the names mentioned in it, she might give it a look.
One thing usually happens when someone raises questions about a book, Hess said: More people check it out to see what all the fuss was about.