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Reports
9th Annual Report
Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
Ninth Annual Report
July 1, 1995 – June 30, 1996
 
Goal of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
 
The goal of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse is to uphold the principles of the Library Bill of Rights in all types of libraries, by improving communication between librarians, board members, professional associations, and other concerned groups in Oregon about challenges to intellectual freedom, and by increasing awareness as to how threats to intellectual freedom can be overcome.
 
Objectives of the Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
 
To establish a central clearinghouse to collect and disseminate reports about challenges to intellectual freedom in all types of Oregon libraries.
 
To provide information about challenged materials to public library directors and library board members, school media center librarians, and academic librarians when requests for reconsideration of materials are formally registered.
 
To provide information to public library directors and library board members, school media center librarians, and academic librarians about establishing appropriate policies and procedures before a challenge to intellectual freedom occurs.
 
To cooperate with other persons and groups concerned with intellectual freedom or related issues.
 
Scope and Methodology of the Clearinghouse
 
The data collected is limited to formal challenges against any type of library material in any type of Oregon library. A formal challenge is defined here as a written "Request for Reconsideration" or "Statement of Concern" submitted by a group or individual to a library. The Clearinghouse will report informal (not written) challenges when such challenges are of interest because they have received significant public debate.
 
The Clearinghouse reports details about challenges as they are recorded on "Reconsideration Report" forms submitted by library or school staff, or occasionally by citizens. Additional information is obtained from newspaper reports, if available. In a few instances, newspaper articles are the sole source of information about a challenge.
 
The Ninth Annual Report summarizes 30 challenges against library materials that took place between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1996. The section, "Other Issues in Intellectual Freedom in Oregon in 1995-96," provides a brief synopsis of other incidents concerning intellectual freedom in Oregon libraries. "The Big Picture," provides a statistical snapshot of Clearinghouse data since its inception in May 1987.
 
It is possible to research challenges in Oregon libraries using either the  Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse Index to Challenges WWW site or the printed Annual Reports produced by the Clearinghouse. The Index to Challenges on the Web site or the printed Index to Challenges included in this report will locate titles and the number of the annual report that includes the challenge. The Annual Reports themselves will yield more complete information, including a summary of objections.The Web site index is the source of the most current information in that challenges are added on a monthly basis.  To obtain copies of previous years' annual reports contact Val Vogt, Oregon State Library, at 503-378-2112, extension 222, or val.t.vogt@state.or.us.
 
 
Summary of Challenges Reported in 1995-96
 
The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse received information about 30 challenges to library materials between July 1, 1995 and June 30, 1996. The formats challenged included 19 books, 5 videos, 4 periodicals, and 2 recordings. Public libraries experienced 28 of the challenges and school libraries experienced 2 challenges. Eleven of the challenged items were designated as children's and young adult materials, and nineteen were materials for adults. In all of the challenges, library staff, committees, library boards, site councils, superintendents or school boards decided that the challenged materials should be retained. In one instance the decision was made to restrict access to children under age 16 by requiring parental permission to view or check out. There were no decisions to reclassify challenged materials, replace the challenged material with revised editions of the same title, or remove challenged materials from any of the libraries.
 
There were twelve challenges to material in 1995-96 that were concerned about stories or illustrations which were considered scary for children or to contain excessive violence. Concerns about material with sexual themes or overly graphic language were expressed in 12 requests for reconsideration. Two challenges were received based on objections to materials containing references to homosexuality, continuing the decline from the 35 complaints in 1992-93. The four challenges reported in the "other" category encompassed concerns ranging from books considered racist to books encouraging certain behaviors.
 
The challenges listed below are organized according to library type, public or school, and arranged alphabetically by the name of the library where the challenge occurred. Under the name of each library, the materials challenged are listed in alphabetical order by title. Under the summary of events, the phrase "Staff review process" refers to adopted procedures by which library staff read or view the materials, collect reviews and other information about the material, and make the initial decision about the challenged item. This procedure is more common in public libraries. Generally, the library director writes a letter informing the library patron of the decision and explaining the appeals process, in case the citizen is not satisfied with the decision. The phrase "Committee review process" refers to adopted procedures by which a committee, such as an Instructional Materials Review Committee, makes the decision about the challenged item. This procedure is more common in schools. The school board, superintendent, or site council  makes the final decision based on a recommendation from the committee.
 
Challenges in Public Libraries
 
Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Corvallis
 Vampire: The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead by Manuel Dunn-Mascetti (Adult Book)
 Summary of objections: Concern expressed about unsuitability for children; objected to "sexual practices of vampires."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 9/15/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Driftwood Library, Lincoln City
 Let Us Prey by Bill Branon (Adult Book)
 Summary of objections: Concern expressed that book was "crude, graphic and without social value."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 11/21/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Hillsboro Public Library, Hillsboro
 Road From Betrayal by Elizabeth Fackler (Adult Book)
 Summary of objections: Concern expressed about violence, graphic sex, homosexuality, manipulation and abuse of women, and a specific scene in which a young boy watches his father have sex.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 12/5/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Lake Oswego Public Library, Lake Oswego
Playboy Magazine (Adult Periodical)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that magazine is pornography and doesn't belong in the library; violates "community and family values."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Library Board determined that Selection Policy had been followed, 3/20/96. City Council voted for an exception to the policy, that parental consent be required for youth to look at or check out magazine, 4/2/96.
No further appeal filed.
 
Multnomah County Library, Portland
Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden (Young Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that "if we continue to be open to such ideas (Lesbianism) what will become of the 'family'..." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 9/22/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
 
Beauty's Release by Anne Rice (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about "erotic (pornographic...)" novels in the collection at the taxpayers' expense.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 10/11/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
The Book of Vampires by James W. Hinkley (Children's Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about appropriateness for young children; caused nightmares in first grader.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 6/20/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
The Bridge of the Gods by Frederic Homer Balch (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about material being racist; writer's tone is "just plain sick."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 12/19/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Don't Call Me Little Bunny by Gregoire Solotareff (Children's Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about hero using weapons, hiding out from authorities, and escaping prison; objected to violence and failure of hero to take responsibility for actions. Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 7/18/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Evidence by Luc Sante (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that book will "help reader become desensitized to brutality and become dehumanized." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 4/29/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Goodfellas (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about shocking and cruel violence; "glamorizes and idolizes crime." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained, 4/24/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Heart Condition (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about offensive language.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained, 2/23/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
How Am I Gonna Find A Man If I'm Dead by Fanny Gaynes (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about "self absorbed last thoughts of author [that] could cause debilitating depression/suicide in someone with life threatening situations." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 9/28/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
I, Claudius (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that there is no rating on outside to give warning of full nudity of dancing woman at the very beginning of the movie. Requested rating on material.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained without rating added, 4/24/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Jerky Boys 2 (Adult Recording)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that CD is "rude, stupid, and not funny...disgusting...can't find a redeeming feature." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Recording retained, 9/14/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Jumper by Steven Gould (Young Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about the graphic rape attempt. Requested removal from collection, or at least from Young Adult collection.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained in YA collection, 7/11/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Kaleidoscope Century by John Barnes (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about ritualistic killing with sexual abuse. Requested removal from collection.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 12/19/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson (Children's Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about adult content of video in children's collection. "Under today's standards, this movie could easily be rated R for its violent content." Requested removal from children's collection and placement in adult collection.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained in children's video collection, 12/19/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Mexican Slang: A !*#@&%+! Guide by Linton H. Robinson (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that kids could learn things from this book that could get them in trouble. "The entire contents is how to request different sex acts in Spanish slang." Requested removal from collection.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 4/24/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer (Children's  Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about bad language and "gory details about a boy dying."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 7/5/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer (Children's Recording)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that "story theme is not appropriate for children under the age of 12-13 years." Requested method to "code" stories for older children.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Recording retained as is, 8/15/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
People by Peter Spier (Children's Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that the book scares children by conveying that "death is some horrible scary thing..." Request removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 8/24/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Playboy Magazine (Adult Periodical)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that the magazine "given to children on request" might result in "a child pervert". Requested removal.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Periodical retained, 4/24/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Playboy Magazine (Adult Periodical)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that if children can look at and read the magazine "it can lead to very dirty minds."
Summary of events: Staff review process. Periodical retained, 4/24/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Suffer the Children by John Saul (Young Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that incidents in this book might result in "bad thoughts." Requested removal from Young Adult Collection to Adult Collection.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained in Young Adult Collection, 10/30/96. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Oregon City Public Library, Oregon City
Spy Magazine (Adult Periodical)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about female nudity in August 1995 issue.
Summary of events: Library Board review process. Periodical retained, 7/19/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Salem Public Library, Salem
Wolf At The Door (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that video with a sex scene was available for children to check out.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained, 8/2/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Sex For One: The Joy of Selfloving by Betty Dodson (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that the book contained "nothing about the value of family and /or married life." Objection to promotion of "masterbation[sic], homosexuality, the smoking of pot and uses unclean words."
Requested that the book not be available to young people.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained, 8/9/95. Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Challenges In School Library Media Centers
 
Bend Senior High School, Bend
By Silence Betrayed by John Crewdson (Young Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that the material contained in the book is too explicit for children to be reading, that "it is pornographic in itself. It is abusive emotionally and mentally to children and violates their rights for the school to be a safe environment." Requested removal.
Summary of events: Committee review process. Committee recommended retention. School Board voted to retain, 10/23/95.
 
Keizer Elementary School, Keizer
How To Haunt A House For Halloween by Friedhoffer (Children's Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about illustrations in book "portraying [magic] tricks".
Summary of events: Committee review process. Committee recommended retention with no restrictions on use. Board accepted Committee recommendation, 4/9/96.
 
The Big Picture: A Nine-Year Overview
 
The following is a statistical snapshot of the challenges reported since the inception of the Clearinghouse in May, 1987. The total number of challenges was 360, of which 240 were in public libraries, and 120 in school libraries. 229 of these challenges were to materials designated for children or young adults, and 131 were for adult materials. Objections to the content of library materials fell into the following categories: scary or violent content, 58 challenges; graphic sexual content or explicit language, 135 challenges; occult themes, 48 challenges; homosexual content, 59 challenges; and other assorted concerns, 60 challenges. Library materials were retained in 309 of the challenges (86%); reclassified 9 times (2.5%); restricted 17 times (5%); replaced 3 times (1%); and removed 22 times (6%). Assistance with data organization and reviews about materials provided by: Val Vogt, Judyth Leifheit, Stana Smith (Oregon State Library).
 
Other Issues in Intellectual Freedom in Oregon in 1995-96
 
Oregon experienced several incidents relating to intellectual freedom that fall outside the purview of the formal, written challenges to public and school library materials reported here. To assist readers of this report in understanding more about Oregon's libraries and issues of intellectual freedom, we offer the following information, which was reported in various Oregon newspapers.
          
  In December the Woodburn Independent reported that a Woodburn man requested the removal of one frame from an ACLU display at the Woodburn Public Library. The Faces of Liberty display commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Oregon Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and the 75th anniversary of the national ACLU. In a letter to the director of the Woodburn Library the gentleman requested that the frame dealing with assisted suicide be removed because of "...lack of consistency. Seven of the frames display decided cases. The frame in question deals with a case still being argued in the courts. Furthermore, the offending frame presents one-sided propaganda which arguably has little or no relation to the theme of the display." The Librarian responded that the library "will plan to leave the display intact through the first of December as scheduled. I hope that each person who looks at the exhibit will accept it as one point of view, which may or may not agree with their beliefs, and then feel free to formulate, change or reaffirm their own opinions as a result of this additional information."
 
News articles reported that at least three schools in Oregon faced challenges to books used in classes, either as supplemental or required reading. The Salem Statesman-Journal reported a request by a parent to remove Terry Tempest Williams' book Refuge from the supplemental reading list of an American Literature class at Sprague High School. The parents requested the removal on the basis that it misrepresented the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' religion and culture. A district-appointed committee decided that the book contained some inaccuracies but was not intended to be a reference work or a book about the Mormon religion. The Committee recommended that the Board retain the book but it should not be required reading.
           
The Daily Astorian reported on a request that The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter be removed from Astoria elementary schools. The complaint  was filed by the parents of a student who heard the book read aloud in her fifth-grade classroom at Astor Elementary School. A review panel recommended that the book be restricted to children who have their parent's permission to borrow it from either the school library or classroom. The restriction would also apply to copies in classroom libraries or copies brought to school from outside sources. In school libraries the book would be kept on a shelf reserved for teachers. Teachers could read the book aloud to their classes, editing out profanity and other inappropriate content at their discretion. The parents who filed the complaint said the restriction did not adequately address their concerns that prompted the complaint. In written comments to The Daily Astorian the parents said, "We don't believe the decision made by the book review committee allows protection for all ages of kids. The book has a repeated line of discrimination and distortion of Christians." The School Board adopted the panel's recommendation at its November 8th meeting.
           
During the fall term at Dallas High School parents began expressing concern about the use of Brighton Beach Memoirs by Neil Simon in the Introduction to Theatre class. The play was read and studied, rather than performed. Because there was no formal challenge filed by parents, the Curriculum Director filed one at the request of the Theatre instructor. The Challenge Committee met on two occasions. The first meeting did not yield a decisive recommendation for the consideration of the School Board. A second meeting was called and three resolutions were voted on: 1. Retain material with no restrictions-failed. 2. Restrict material to advanced theater students-failed. 3. Remove material from Dallas High School-tie. In the months after the challenge was filed there were many letters to the editor and several editorials in the local newspaper, the Dallas Itemizer-Observer.  On February 12, 1996 the Board of Education of the Dallas School District voted to restrict the use of Brighton Beach Memoirs to advanced theater students, to be used only as supplemental material and with parent permission.