Censorship Watch

By Goldberg, Beverly | American Libraries, March 1997 | Go to article overview

Censorship Watch


Goldberg, Beverly, American Libraries


Challenge Raises Goosebumps. After two heated public hearings that could have thawed a Minnesota midwinter, the Anoka-Hennepin Independent School District in suburban Minneapolis will retain nine Goosebumps titles over the objections of a first-grader's mother.

Concerned about the materials to which her daughter might be exposed when she becomes a middle-schooler, Margaret Byron asked last April that all 40+ titles then in print in R. L. Stine's wildly popular thriller series - plus any future editions - be banned from the school district. That request seemed excessive to district media services coordinator Susan Haggberg, since the entire system owned 30 titles. So Haggberg limited Byron's challenge to the nine Stine titles held at the Johnsville Elementary School where Byron's daughter is a student.

After the school's Media Review Committee retained the books in a close vote, Byron appealed the decision to the district level - a move that attracted the attention of the national press, brought C-SPAN and MSNBC crews to tape the second hearing, and stunned both Byron and Haggberg. Feeling beleaguered for being cast as a censor, Byron told the Washington Post January 22, "There's got to be a problem with a policy that asks you to participate and then condemns you if you do."

Wicked Web Sightings. Sensitized by the November resignation of a Medina County (Ohio) District Library worker who refused to loan a minor The New Joy of Gay Sex (AL, Jan., p. 14), some area citizens have been seeking adults-only Internet workstations since the library began offering age-neutral public access in December.

A month after switching on the workstations, Director Bob Smith found himself turning Medina Sheriff Neil Hassinger away at the library door. According to a January 21 Akron Beacon Journal story, Hassinger came to MCDL in mid-January to watch how easily patron Christopher Williams, who was accompanying him, could access objectionable sites via public-service terminals. …

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