Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Find     
Site Image

Reports
12th Annual Report
Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse
Twelfth Annual Report
July 1, 1998 – June 30, 1999
 
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 to 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 Twelfth Annual Report summarizes 17 challenges against library materials that took place between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 1999. The section, "Other Issues in Intellectual Freedom in Oregon in 1998-99," provides a brief synopsis of other issues concerning intellectual freedom that affect 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 at the Oregon State Library website http://www.osl.state.or.us/libdev/libdev.html or the printed Annual Reports produced by the Clearinghouse. The Index to Challenges on the website or the printed Index to Challenges included in the 9th Annual 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 website index is the source of the most
current information in that challenges are added on a monthly basis. Beginning
with the 9th Annual Report, 1995-96, the reports are posted on the Oregon State
Library website http://www.osl.state.or.us/libdev/libdev.html . To obtain copies of
Annual Reports prior to 1995-96, or in the print version, contact Val Vogt, Oregon
State Library, at 503-378-2112, extension 222, or val.t.vogt@state.or.us.
Summary of Challenges Reported in 1998-99
 
The Oregon Intellectual Freedom Clearinghouse received information about 17
challenges to library materials between July 1, 1998 and June 30, 1999. Eight of the challenged titles were books, seven were videotapes, one was an audiotape and one was a magazine. Public libraries experienced 16 of the challenges and school libraries experienced one challenge. Nine of the challenged items were designated as children's or young adult materials, and eight were materials for adults. In twelve of the challenges, library staff committees decided that the challenged materials should be retained. Two of the challenged items were reclassified for an older audience and one was restricted to students in middle
school and above. Two of the titles were removed from the library because they
were old and worn out.
 
Six challenges to material in 1998-99 concerned materials that were considered excessively violent or too scary for children. Concerns about material with sexual themes or overly graphic language were expressed in six requests for reconsideration. The five challenges reported in the “other” category encompassed concerns which ranged from racist stereotyping to inaccuratematerial to propaganda.
 
The challenges listed below are organized according to library type, public or school, and arranged alphabetically by the title of the challenged material. 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 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 often make the final decision based on a recommendation from the committee.
 
Challenges in Public Libraries
 
African Odyssey (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about stoning/beating to death of
wildebeest.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 7/25/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Apache Knight by Carol Finch (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about book being overly erotic.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book (which would have been retained
but was paperback in bad condition) was removed 1/19/99. Letter sent.
 
A Boat Named Death by Jack M. Bickham (Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about violence in book.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained 9/3/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
The Bones in the Cliff by James Stevenson (Children’s Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about profanity and inappropriate
subject matter for children.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained 8/28/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Cold, Cold Heart by James Elliott (Adult Audiotape)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about sadistic violence in book.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Audiotape retained 9/3/98. Letter sent.
No further appeal filed.
 
Dogs to the Rescue (Children’s Video)
Summary of objections: Requested that library place warning stickers about
violent content on videos for children or not have violent videos for kids at the
library at all.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained without label 10/01/98.
Letter sent. No further appeal filed.
 
Greening of Planet Earth (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that the interest group that produced
video is not identified on packaging and the video doesn’t present alternate
points of view.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 3/3/99. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Hope and Glory (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about depiction of children
preoccupied with sexual experiences.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 5/5/99. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Mommy Laid an Egg by Babette Cole (Children’s Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about trivialization of sex education
for children.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained 9/24/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Poisons Make You Sick by Dorothy Chlad (Children’s Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about the possibility that information
would mislead children about medications.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book (which would not normally have
been removed but was in “terrible physical condition”) was removed 12/8/98.
Letter sent.
 
Porky Pig and Company (Children’s Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about “racist stereotypes of Native
Americans”.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 11/3/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Sex: It’s Worth Waiting For by Greg Speck (Young Adult Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that information in the book
discriminated against gay youth.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book retained 12/8/98. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Sunday’s Children (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about violence and sexual content in
the video.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 4/27/99. Letter sent. No
further appeal filed.
 
Tales of the City (Adult Video)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about graphic scenes of gays, sex,
and drugs.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Video retained 6/10/99. Letter sent.
No further appeal filed.
 
The Trokeville Way by Russell Hoban (Children’s Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about sexual references and
excessive swearing.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Book reclassified as Young Adult
6/8/99. No further appeal filed.
 
WWF (World Wrestling Federation) Magazine (Young Adult Magazine)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed about violence and sexual
innuendoes. Request to move it from Young Adult area.
Summary of events: Staff review process. Magazine reclassified as Adult 4/8/99.
Challenges In School Library Media Centers
 
Alice in Rapture, Sort Of by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Children’s Book)
Summary of objections: Concern expressed that tone too advanced for preteens.
Summary of events: Committee review process. School Board approved
Committee recommendation. Book restricted to middle school or above 7/14/98.
No further appeal filed.
 
The Big Picture: A Twelve 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 417, of which 288 were in public libraries and 129 in school libraries. 262 of these challenges were to materials designated for children or young adults and 155 were for adult materials. Objections to the content of library materials fell into the following categories: scary or violent content, 70 challenges; graphic sexual content or explicit language, 161 challenges; witches or occult themes, 51 challenges; homosexual content, 60 challenges; and other concerns, 75
challenges. Library materials were retained in 359 of the challenges (86%) reclassified 12 times (3%); restricted 19 times (4%); replaced 3 times (1%); and removed 24 times (6%). Assistance with data organization and reviews about materials provided by Val Vogt and Craig Smith at the Oregon State Library.
 
In order to ensure sound data, we invite every library in Oregon to report all
challenges to intellectual freedom. We have posted information about the
Clearinghouse, the information request form, the reconsideration report form and
other intellectual freedom resources on the Oregon State Library website at
http:/www.osl.state.or.us/libdev/libdev.html. You may also contact
Clearinghouse Coordinator, MaryKay Dahlgreen, at 503-378-2112 ext. 239 or
 
Other Issues in Intellectual Freedom in Oregon in 1998-99
 
The Internet, and access to the Internet, continues to be the intellectual freedom focus of many communities in Oregon, as well as in other parts of the United States. In January 1999 the Oregon Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee surveyed the public libraries in the state to document how libraries are handling patron access to the Internet. The survey found that while policies are still evolving, “providing access to the Internet has created few problems for libraries while providing an important resource for Oregon citizens.” Eighty nine
percent of the 128 public libraries contacted provide Internet access to their patrons. Of those 114 libraries, 77% had formal Internet use policies in place. In addition to policies, 65% of the libraries surveyed offer Internet training opportunities to their patrons, both formally and informally. Of those libraries, 8% require patrons to take classes offered by the library before they are allowed access to the Internet. Only seven libraries reported complaints about inappropriate use. Most other comments focused on patrons wanting more
terminals and faster connections. The survey report is available on the Oregon Library Association website at http://olaweb.org/misc/ifcsurvey.shtml. Several libraries found themselves in the center of policy discussions about providing Internet access, or filtering Internet access this year. Each of those communities followed a process to determine the level of Internet access that depended upon community input. Thus far, the libraries have been successful in reaching solutions that respond to local needs. There are currently several
pieces of Federal legislation pending that would require filtering Internet access in order to receive federal library support. Legislation requiring filtering in libraries was also introduced in a number of states. Oregon may have been protected from the introduction of similar legislation by the evidence from the Oregon Library Association survey, and the high profile Internet access situations, that Oregon public libraries have already developed local policies and solutions for providing Internet access. On the national front an important case
was decided in November 1998 in Loudoun County Virginia. The conclusion of Judge Leonie Brinkema’s ruling in Mainstream Loudoun v. Loudoun County Library U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia, Case No. 97-2049-A on November 23, 1998 reads:
“Although defendant is under no obligation to provide Internet access to its patrons, it has chosen to do so and is therefore restricted by the First Amendment in the limitations it is allowed to place on patron access. Defendant has asserted a broad right to censor the expressive activity of the receipt and communication of information through the Internet with a Policy that (1) is not necessary to further any compelling government interest; (2) is not narrowly tailored; (3) restricts the access of adult patrons to protected material just because the material is unfit for minors; (4) provides inadequate standards for restricting access; and (5) provides inadequate procedural safeguards to ensure prompt judicial review. Such a Policy offends the guarantee of free speech in the First Amendment and is, therefore, unconstitutional.” The American Library Association has produced several items that can be of assistance to librarians developing Internet use policies. Several divisions of ALA
(ALTA, ALSC and PLA) recently published Children and the Internet: Guidelines for Developing Public Library Policy. The Office for Intellectual Freedom has written Guidelines and Considerations for Developing a Public Library Internet Use Policy, available at www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/internet.html and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee has developed a document containing frequently asked questions about Internet use policies, available at http://www.ala.org/alaorg/oif/interfaq.html.
 
Libraries are playing an important role in guiding parents and children to quality
sites on the Internet. ALA provides 700+ Great Sites: Amazing, Spectacular, Mysterious, Colorful... http://www.ala.org/parentspage/greatsites/ and Teen Hoopla: An Internet
Guide for Teens at http://www.ala.org/teenhoopla/main.html. The American Library Association is also a partner in GetNetWise http://www.getnetwise.org, a resource for families and caregivers to help kids have safe, educational, and entertaining online experiences. The site includes a glossary of Internet terms, a guide to online safety, directions for reporting online trouble, a directory of online safety tools, and great sites for kids to visit.
Because the Internet is a new and rapidly changing medium, the Clearinghouse would like to track Internet challenges in libraries. We are encouraging libraries to communicate with us about concerns and challenges that you receive. Contact MaryKay Dahlgreen, Clearinghouse Coordinator, marykay.dahlgreen@state.or.us or 503-378-2112 ext. 239.
 
Our thanks to Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association and SIRS for
underwriting the cost of printing the 12th Annual Report and to Media Weavers
for printing and including the Annual Report in the Fall issue of Writers NW.