What started out as a teen girl refusing to return a school library copy of Ellen Wittlinger’s Sandpiper has been resolved through a mixed reaction school board meeting. Check out the link for a more detailed account. While I am encouraged that the school board decided to keep the book on the shelf–for the 1st amendment rights of the students, I worry about the effects this challenge will have on future purchases and policies at the school system.

Censorship against teen materials is becoming more of an everyday occurrence that teen librarians really need to prepare themselves for. Whether it is impromptu conversations with parents about why there are adult titles in your teen collection, or a formal challenge against a title due to content, please take the time to learn your policies and be able to discuss them intellectually.

I hope that none of us have to go through a public challenge like Sandpiper, but if you do contact YALSA and ALA’s Office of Intellectual Freedom. They can really help!

Kristin Fletcher-Spear
Chair of YALSA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee

About Intellectual Freedom Committee

The intellectual freedom committee serves as a liaison between the YALSA and the ALA Intellectual Freedom Committee and all other groups within the Association concerned with intellectual freedom.

2 Thoughts on “Sandpiper Challenge resolved!

  1. It is not censorship to comply with US Supreme Court guidance and keep material such as this from children:

    From the book at issue:

    “Eventually it’s clear that what he really needs is for me to put my mouth around his dick. After a minute or two of this I become anonymous. To the guy and to myself. Andrew (or whoever) is lost inside himself, waiting to be shaken by his own little volcano, and I’m thinking, Who is this girl kneeling on the floor with some weird guy’s bone in her mouth?”

    As your own ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual says:

    “In Pico, for example, although the Court’s plurality opinion prohibited school officials from removing school library book based on the officials’ disagreement with the ideas expressed in the books, it noted that removal decisions motivated by concerns that a book was ‘educationally unsuitable’ or ‘pervasively vulgar’ would be constitutional.”

  2. Dear SafeLibraries representative,

    The point of the passage in question isn’t to be ‘pervasively vulgar.’ It’s one of the main points in Sandpiper that the reason the main character, er… does what she does… because of various problems in her life, whether with family or her own self-image. The author isn’t trying to gross you out or shove her opinion on you that all teenagers should be out having oral sex. Ellen Wittlinger’s just writing from the point of view of a confused teenaged girl, and she’s not preaching one way or the other.

    Oh, and by the way? Your site? Yeah, that’s a little disgusting. What happened to free speech for all, not just those who can pound out a couple of demeaning blog entries?

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