March 20, 2018

Iowa Library Reaffirms Ban on Sari Says

By Kathy Ishizuka

The James Kennedy Public Library in Dyersville, IA, has upheld a decision to
ban Sari Says: The Real Dirt on Everything from Sex to School
(HarperCollins, 2001).

The library’s Board of Trustees recently reaffirmed a June decision to return
the book to its vendor, defeating a motion by board member Kori Mahoney to
rescind the ban. “I believe our decision was fundamentally flawed because it was
not based on enough information,” she told the Associated Press (AP). Mahoney
believes some board members had not read the book when they voted to remove it
from the library for sexually explicit content. Mahoney had abstained from the
June 26 vote because she had not read it herself.

In the book, Teen People columnist Sari Locker answers questions on
a range of issues from fashion and peer pressure to how to talk to parents about
sex and alternatives to intercourse.

Board member Betty Anne Scherrman told AP that the board did not consider
returning the book an act of censorship. “We didn’t buy a book—that’s all it
is,” she says. Sari Says was selected by the children’s librarian and purchased
with the approval of library director Shirley Vonderhaar before its removal.

The ban has attracted national media attention, and library board chairman
Wayne Hersen says he’s been flooded by e-mail messages from around the country,
with opinion coming down on both sides of the issue.