The Toronto Public Library was called out by the website Jezebel this morning for an anti-Valentine’s Day event that originally advertised vandalizing romance novel covers. The Anti-Valentine’s Day Anti-Party invites teens tired of the holiday to spend an afternoon wearing black and writing “the worst break-up letter ever,” with rewriting romance novel covers as the main event.
Harlequin author and former TPL employee Vicki Essex posted an open letter to the TPL on her website, denouncing the disrespectful implications of the event.
The letter was picked up by Jezebel and has generated discussion in the site’s comment section and on the TPL’s event page.
“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.”
The TPL has since tweeted clarification that teens would be invited to create their own anti-romance book covers, not vandalize the books themselves. The official event page has also been updated.
Despite the critical response, the event will go ahead as planned on Feb. 10 at the North York Central Branch and Feb. 13 at the Sanderson Branch.