Magazine article American Libraries

Just Doing Her Job, Children's Librarian Wins Instant Fame

Magazine article American Libraries

Just Doing Her Job, Children's Librarian Wins Instant Fame

Article excerpt

Children's librarian Ann Scarpellino of the Ramsey (N.J.) Free Public Library recently gained national attention by sporing a typographical error in radio-TV lecturer "Dr. Ruth" Westheimer's latest book.

USA Today reported the catch Dec. 30, whereupon reporters from newspapers, wire services, magazines, and broadcasting stations telephoned Scarpellino for interviews.

"It was wild" she told AL, "but my kids loved it."

Scarpellino, an ALA member who earned a master's at Columbia University library school after raising three children, explained that she had just been doing her job, as usual. To avert censorship problems in the small northern New Jersey town, she customarily purchases well reviewed books about sex at a bookstore to consider them for the library's teenage section, which is designed for young adults 11-13.

On page 115 of First love: A Young People's Guide to Sexual Intercourse, by Westheimer and Nathan Kravetz, Scarpellino Came across an obvious typo. In discussing the rhythm method of birth control, the text read: "The safe times are the week before and the week of ovulation."

The librarian immediately called the publisher, Warner Books, Inc., in New York City, to urge that the word "safe' be changed to "unsafe." Scarpellino said, "The man I spoke to didn't seem impressed and suggested I write a letter." She wrote immediately and, when the letter arrived three days later, Warner Books took quick action first printing of the $3.50 paperback, issued with a white cover, was recalled; the corrected version bears a red cover. Warner urged individual buyers and dealers to return the early copies."We don't want the wrong edition to be in anyone's hands"' a Warner spokesperson said.

"DR. Ruth" told her radio and TV fans she had proofread the work herself. "What I think happened is that in my mind I read the word 'unsafe and didn't catch that it read 'safe;" she explained. …

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