In some small way, Sandy Elementary School teacher Dan Higley may have affected how the Salt Lake County Library System displays its books after all.
Library director Eileen Longs-worth confirmed Monday that the system will not remove or relocate Beavis and Butt-head's "Ensucklopedia" as Higley and 59 supporters had formally requested. But Higley's concern about the cartoon book, which is aimed at an adult and young adult audience, has not been ignored.Longsworth said the complaints will be considered in the library's review of its practice of interfiling books. Interfiling by subject matter or book type leads to some materials categorized for children, young adults and adults being shelved together, she said.
That practice led to one of Higley's second-grade pupils apparently stumbling upon, and checking out, the Beavis and Butt-head book. The 7-year-old was looking through a shelf of cartoon arts books in the adult collection of the Sandy Branch library, a shelf also containing books featuring Garfield, Dennis the Menace and Peanuts.
Beavis and Butt-head are MTV characters who have been criticized for rude, perverse and politically incorrect behavior and for inspiring the same in young people.
"The impact he might have would be if we decided we want to pull the children's books out of the interfiled nonfiction," Longsworth said of Higley.
The Beavis and Butt-head book "wouldn't move," Longsworth said. "It's in the adult collection."
Longsworth said the "Ensucklopedia" is now interfiled with children's titles in the adult nonfiction collection at 14 of the system's 17 libraries. At both the Whitmore and Holladay branches, children's nonfiction books are not interfiled with young adult and adult books. That's because of the physical layout of those libraries, she said. The Alta Branch is smaller and does not carry the "Ensucklopedia," Longsworth said.
The review of the interfiling procedures began before Higley made his concern public in February, but Longsworth said questions he raised about where the book was shelved are the type of questions the library has been asking itself all along. The library, however, is considering a move from interfiling, primarily for reasons other than those Higley had in mind.
"Primarily, it's for merchandising and ease of-use purposes," Longsworth said. "We're looking at where nonfiction mysteries should be filed. We have libraries that want to pull Cliff notes out and file them separately."
Children's and adult poetry are currently interfiled in county libraries, as are children's and adult history books.
Longsworth said without interfiling, books on the same subject matter or by the same author could end up being shelved in two or more places in the same library.
"There's no right or wrong answer to it," Longsworth said. "It's kind of akin to a department store that has dresses in three locations. Is that good or bad?"
Higley said reviewing the interfiling system is "a step in the right direction.
"At least they're doing something," he said Monday.
Higley said he recently received a letter from Salt Lake County Commissioner Mary Callaghan, in which she recommended that the library staff "seriously investigate how the book is interfiled" with other materials.
Longsworth said the system's review committee still has not completed its letter of response to Higley and the others who submitted formal complaints.
All 29 copies of the "Ensucklopedia" available through county libraries remain checked out, she said.