Auckland Council will not be removing a controversial book from its libraries, despite a growing petition claiming it "advocates child abuse".

The online petition, which has more than 2400 signatures, was launched on Friday by West Auckland mother Eileen Joy after she learned Auckland Libraries stocked a copy of To Train Up a Child - a 1994 book which instructs parents to withhold food and whip their children with branches and belts.

The authors of the book - American pastors Michael and Debi Pearl - also advise readers to use a garden hose on children who have soiled their pants.

Auckland Council chief operating officer Dean Kimpton said: "Under no circumstances is violence against children acceptable or lawful."


However, he said this debate touched on the fundamental principle of freedom of expression and it was a matter that would be referred to the Office of Film and Literature Classification.

"The challenge for Auckland Libraries and the profession more generally is how they balance censorship with providing access to material that covers issues, views and/or opinions on activities that are unpopular or unacceptable in New Zealand or represent a minority view."

The book was requested by a customer in 2012 and has been loaned out only 10 times since.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification confirmed that it had received a complaint about the book and would look at classifying it if someone asked.