Friday, January 29, 2010

Not Following Procedures

Technically, this isn't really about adult readers advisory, but I had to bring it up anyway. I just read an article on Yahoo! from the Washington Post that the Culpeper County public school officials have decided that the schools will stop assigning a version of Anne Frank's diary called: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition (a version that was published on the 50th anniversary of Frank's death). The school library will still have the older version available to students and will also be used in classes. The newer version was removed due to a parent's complaint that the book included "sexually explicit material" and "homosexual themes."

According to James Allen, the director of instruction for the school system, there is a policy in place for such complaints. When this happens, the complaints are "submitted in writing and for a review committee to research the materials and deliberate." Allen claims that this policy was not followed in the case of this book. Instead, "the parent registered the complaint orally, no review committee was created and a decision was made quickly by at least one school administrator."

The ALA has weighed in on this story. Angela Maycock, assistant director of the office for intellectual freedom, was quoted as saying that the "hasty decisions to restrict access to some books does a disservice to students."

Again, this doesn't directly involve adult readers advisory. More than anything, I wanted to blog about it because it really concerned me. There are policies and procedures for a reason. Even though there are other versions of the book available, what this school system did is censorship is in direct violation of ALA's Freedom to Read statement. The administrators removed something without following the system's own procedures.

In a sense, this harkens back to something that we talked about in class last night about how our culture seems to be eliminating experts from just about everything. Instead of going through with the written policy of having a committee look over the challenged material, one or more administrators apparently felt that he/she/they knew better than anyone else and removed the item. Despite the fact that the school system's policy is to rely on "experts," those in charge ignored that and only listened to the parent.

Now, I am not angry with the parent. He or she was merely concerned about the material his or her child was reading. I am frustrated by the fact that standard procedures were ignored. I'm sure that this isn't the first time that this has happened in the history of libraries, but it still burns me up.

Anyone else want to chime in on this?

Chandler, M.A. (2010). "School system in Va. won't teach version of Anne Frank book." The
Washington Post.

1 comment:

  1. Yikes, and this relates very much to readers advisory. These objections could just as easily be fired at public library collections. I don't understand why so many folks in this country object to the discussion of anything related to sex. We seem to celebrate violence at every turn.

    Also the blurring of the lines between the role of the parent and the role of the school is perhaps harmful to us all. In some ways, we've come to expect public schools to act as parents and then in turn we have empowered a few parents in aid in the running of our public schools and they turn feel they have the right to parent everyone's kids because they too have confused the role of the school and the role of parenting in child development. How's that for a run-on sentence?!