STUCK IN THE MIDDLE Remains In School Library

January 10, 2012
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In December, CBLDF and the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom wrote a letter to the superintendent of the Dixfield, Maine, school system in order to prevent the removal of the anthology Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics from an Unpleasant Age from library shelves. On Monday, the school board voted to leave the book on library shelves with the caveat the students must have parental permission to check out the book.

Stuck in the Middle was edited by Ariel Schrag and includes contributions from acclaimed graphic novelists Daniel Clowes, Dash Shaw, Gabrielle Bell, Lauren Weinstein, and more. The book received praise from Booklist, New York Times, and Publishers Weekly, and it was selected for New York Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age” list in 2008.

“While we’re pleased to see the book retained in the library’s collection, we’re very disappointed that it is retained with restrictions,” CBLDF’s Executive Director Charles Brownstein said.

The school received a complaint objecting to language, sexual content, and drug references in the book. In their letter, CBLDF and ALA defended the book:

Like any book in the school library, Stuck in the Middle may not be right for every student at Buckfield Junior-Senior High School. But the library has a responsibility to represent a broad range of views in its collection and to meet the needs of everyone in the community — not just the most vocal, the most powerful, or even the majority. While parents and community members may — and should — voice their concerns and select different materials for themselves and their children, those objecting to particular books should not be given the power to restrict the rights of other students and families to access the material.

After discussion of the complaint and the content of the book, the Dixfield school board voted to leave the book on shelves but placed the book in the professional collection, which requires parental permission before students can take out the book. Read more about the debate over the book here.

Download a PDF of the letter CBLDF and ALA wrote on behalf of Stuck in the Middle here.

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