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Re: Double Meh. Anti-Valentine's Day Anti-Party.

Blech! Yeesh! Tired of making a fuss over Valentine's Day?   Seek refuge from the mushiness at one of the Anti-Valentine's Day Anti-Parties.

Join us for a party where hearts, Cupid, the colour red and public displays of affection are banned and black clothing is encouraged.  Join us to vandalize romance novel covers, test your knowledge of former celebrity couples and write the worst break-up letter.

Win prizes, eat un-festive snacks and listen to our playlist of the best break-up songs!

Two Anti-Valentines Events:

  • Thursday, February 13th, 5:00-6:00pm
  • Sanderson Branch (327 Bathurst, Bathurst at Dundas W)
  • Black clothing encouraged. Bring your sarcasm.

and

  • Monday, February 10th, 4:30-6:00pm
  • North York Central Library, Room 1

Dear Toronto Public Library,

As a Toronto romance author, employee of Toronto-based Harlequin Enterprises and a former Toronto Public Library employee, I am sorely disappointed by the TPL’s decision to hold an event that actively encourages vandalizing romance book covers.

While I understand the anti-Valentine’s day sentiment, holding this public event does not help foster positive attitudes toward healthy romantic relationships in young people. I can understand the program’s effort to be edgy and tongue-in-cheek and draw more patrons, however, I cannot condone the destruction of reading materials in this fashion with the explicit intention to mock, marginalize, abuse and denigrate the romance genre.

Historically, romance novels have faced much criticism and disrespect, much of it due to the fact that the main audience is women and the writers are predominantly women. By adding to the chorus of voices decrying the non-value of romance through this event, the Toronto Public Library fosters an environment in which it is considered acceptable to judge people for the things they like.

As a romance author who has done events with the TPL and as someone who works on the production side of the publishing business, I can tell you that hundreds of people work tirelessly to produce these covers and the books. While I recognize the sometimes salacious or hilarious end products and have enough of a sense of humor to poke fun at the industry, these hardworking folks take pride in their work, and it would break my heart to see people who have little to no concept of the work or genre treat these covers with such disrespect.

Romance writing is a $1.7 billion industry worldwide. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., the world’s leading publisher of romance novels, is headquartered in Toronto and owned by TorStar. The former CEO of Harlequin, Donna Hayes, is the Chair of the Toronto Public Library’s Corporate Committee. And Harlequin is one of the major sponsors of the annual Book Lover’s Ball.

Is this how you want to get new readers and patrons into the library? By alienating them from a reading genre and encouraging them to hate on something they haven’t even tried?

Please, for the love of books, cancel this event and replace it with something more positive. Valentine’s Day can certainly be difficult for young people, but they don’t need to turn it into a hate-fest.

NOTE: The opinions expressed above are my own and in no way reflect Harlequin Enterprises or any other entities mentioned.

EDIT Feb. 5/14 12:12 PM: Looks like the TPL has edited the site and (hopefully) changed the program. The site now reads: "Join us to create your own anti-romance book cover, test your knowledge of former celebrity couples and write the worst break-up letter. "

 

EDIT Feb. 5/14 1:58 PM:  The Toronto Public Library posted these Tweets:

TPL responds

 

EDIT Feb. 5/14 5:31 PM: So I got a mention on Jezebel.com. Suffice to say, I think the issue has played itself out, but I'm glad to have started a discussion on this. I love the Toronto Public Library and I support its programs and everything they do. It's important that everyone from all walks of life have a safe space to express themselves without prejudice or judgment, and I hope the library will continue to be this space.