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Indiana author John Green calls out Hamilton East Public Library on book reshelving policy

Prominent Indiana author disavows Hamilton County library policy

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Indianapolis-based author John Green is calling out the Hamilton East Public Library Board’s decision to reshelve young adult books in the adult section.

Green specifically shared his frustration with the decision to move his most popular novel, “The Fault in Our Stars,” to the adult section for violating the updated terms of the policy.

“The Fault in Our Stars has been removed from the YA section in the suburbs of Indianapolis and is now considered a ‘book for adults.’ This is ludicrous,” Green said. “It is about teenagers and I wrote it for teenagers. Teenagers are not harmed by reading TFIOS. This is such an embarrassment to the city of @FishersIN.”

Green expressed his disappointment with the board’s new ‘Collection Development Policy‘ that overrides publisher, author, and librarian recommendations on where to shelve books in a social media site X, formerly known as Twitter.

The ‘Collection Development Policy’ requires strict attention be given to nudity, alcohol and drug use, profanity, violence, and sexual content before a book is placed in the children or teen sections.

After sharing his original post on Wednesday morning Green followed up with a letter to the HEPL Board.

He shared screengrabs of the letter in a social media post that said, “My reply to the board members of @FishersIN and @NoblesvilleIN seeking to remove my books (and over a hundred others) from the young adult literature shelves in their libraries. Heartbreaking for this to happen in Central Indiana, where I live and strive to support.”


I’m John Green, resident of Indianapolis and author of The Fault in Our Stars, Turtles All the Way Down, and other novels for teenagers. A community member gave me your emails; I hope you won’t mind my reaching out. Feel free to email me here or call me at [redacted phone number].

I know that some of you are very business-focused, so here’s some business: I’ve sold more than 40,000,000 books as a resident of Central Indiana, which has been good news for the tax revenue of this state and the local economy more generally. (We are, after all, home to the world’s largest book warehousing operation.) The Fault in Our Stars is the best selling book ever to be set in Indiana, and has driven considerable tourism to our shared community. I’m also the cofounder and CEO of an e-commerce company and the educational media company Complexly, which between them employ over 115 people, several of whom live in Fishers or Noblesville.

I am your neighbor. And I am absolutely horrified by the decision of some members of your board to override a huge body of expertise and deem hundreds of books–including mine–inappropriate to be shelved as Young Adult Literature. One of the novels you’ve pulled off the shelves won the Michael L Printz Award as the best Young Adult novel according to the leading librarians in the U.S. Another was awarded the Corinne Book Prize, the highest award for young adult literature in Germany. Other books on the list, including Judy Blume’s Forever and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, are widely viewed as classics of Young Adult literature. And more to the point, librarians and teachers in our community–the highly-trained experts Fishers and Noblesville pay with public money–agree that these books should be shelved as Young Adult literature, which is precisely why they were until your shameful intervention.

It’s political theater of the lowest and most embarrassing order, and it’s an awful way to have Fishers and Noblesville make national news.

As a business owner, I’m infuriated by your third-rate vice signalling that complicates efforts to bring business and talent here. As a parent, I’m disgusted by your disregard for the professionalism and expertise of teachers and librarians. As a Hoosier author, I am deeply offended by your inaccurate and hurtful portrayal of my work. And as a citizen, I am so disappointed that you would use public time and public resources to engage in work that actively harms the public through censorship, defacto and otherwise.

I implore you to walk this awful policy back and allow the real experts to decide where to shelve my books and those of my colleagues.

Thank you for your time,

John Green

John Green’s letter to the HEPL Board regaring the updated collection development policy

Green followed his original post with an additional post that is now deleted, noting he will avoid the Fishers area as a result of this decision.

“I only have a small voice in these decisions, of course, but you won’t catch me alive or dead in Fishers, Indiana until these ridiculous policies are revoked,” Green said. “Which I guess means no Top Golf or IKEA for a while.”

The author also shared a tweet celebrating and thanking librarians.

“Today and every day I am so, so grateful to librarians whose work is absolutely essential to making art and information available to all–even amid absurdly difficult working conditions,” Green said. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

He followed that with an additional post about the risks he said librarians take.

“Authors often get most of the attention when it comes to issues around book banning and intellectual freedom, but those who really deserve the plaudits and attention are the teachers and librarians and community members doing the work every day to keep books available,” Green said. “They often take far greater risks than any author in defense of intellectual freedom. So the next time you see a teacher or librarian, please thank them on behalf of authors, readers, and the communities they serve.”

Fishers City Councilor at large Jocelyn Vare responded to the author, sharing her opposition to the library’s decision.

“As a Fishers City Council member, I have fought back with citizens against the ridiculous censorship by Hamilton East Public Library board,” Vare said. “Our community does NOT support this! @johngreen, please help us put TFIOS back on the teen shelf where it belongs!”

Vare said books for teens that tackle these subjects in an age-appropriate way should stay in the teen zone.

“I do rely upon our professionals, our librarians, to make good choices and to shelve books appropriately,” Vare said. “At the end of the day, it’s not appropriate for our library board to determine what is appropriate for any reader.”

The review process is ongoing. Library staff said they have reviewed just over 25% of the high school collection. According to the July 27th meeting agenda as of July 20th 1,385 books were moved out of the teen section into the general section. Only 474 of the reviewed books remain.

“If the book is inappropriate for teens, to move it to the adult section, where there is legitimate adult content makes no sense,” Vare said.

The Hamilton East Public Library serves both Fishers and Noblesville.

News 8 reached out to all members of the HEPL Board and none responded to our request for comment or were unavailable.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE of the HEPL Collection Development Policy