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April 25, 1984 5 min read

Officials of the Jerome (Idaho) Joint School District agreed this month to discontinue the practice of allowing members of the Gideon’s International organization, a religious group that publishes Bibles, to distribute its Bibles in the schools. The settlement came after Joseph Ripplinger, a parent, and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a $10,000 suit in U.S. District Court in Boise against the district, charging that the Bible distribution violated the civil rights of Mr. Ripplinger’s daughter, said Stephen L. Pevar, regional counsel of the Mountain States office of the aclu in Denver. On April 13, Judge Harold Ryan signed an order preventing the district from distributing the Bibles to students.

Mr. Pevar last week asked the U.S. Attorney General to either issue an opinion in the case or circulate the judgment that was entered in the case to all Idaho schools to halt similar Bible-distribution incidents in the state’s schools.

Since the Attorney General’s opinion would apply only to Idaho, the aclu is considering filing suits against school districts in Rapid City, S.D., and Helena, Mont., where Bibles have been distributed to students, Mr. Pevar said.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, scholars from across the country will participate this month in a three-day conference on the novel and its author, Mark Twain. The conference, sponsored by the American Studies Committee of Pennsylvania State University, will also examine the role of comedy in other works, including those of P.T. Barnum, Woody Allen, and William Styron.

“Huckleberry Finn has the reputation of being America’s most influential novel,” said John Bryant, assistant professor of English at the university, in a prepared statement. “Twain’s was our first uniquely American novel. ... Many modern-day writers say they owe a large debt to Twain.”

The book has been criticized as racist and has been banned from many public libraries and schools. James B. Stewart, director of Penn State’s black studies program, will discuss the racial controversy surrounding the novel, and conference participants will have the opportunity to discuss how the book is presented in public-school classes.

The American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Round Table has selected Gene D. Lanier, professor of library science at East Carolina State University, as this year’s recipient of the John Phillip Immroth Memorial Award.

The award, which honors an individual who has made notable contributions to intellectual freedom, will be presented June24 at the ala’s annual meeting in Dallas. It is accompanied by a $500 award.

Mr. Lanier, chairman since 1980 of the North Carolina Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee, has studied the problem of library censorship and the individual’s right to read, view, and listen, according to the ala’s “Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.”

He has also served on North Carolina’s State Library Committee and on its Study Committee on Obscenity Laws. In 1982, Mr. Lanier was given Playboy Magazine’s Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment award in education for his work in the field of First Amendment rights and censorship.

Representatives of the Association of6American Publishers testified last month before the Senate Subcommittee on Education in favor of reauthorizing and strengthening the Library Services and Construction Act.

In the testimony, an association official noted that, with lsca support, “libraries are utilizing new technology and developing new delivery strategies to reach the visually impaired, deaf, and other physically disabled persons in the population.”

The association recommended that several changes be made to the reauthorization bill, including amending the proposal for library services to Indian tribes to assure “a more rational and effective” allocation of funds, and supplementing, rather than supplanting, existing literacy and foreign-language programs.

“If one were to ask the members of this committee where they received their educations,” the official testified, “the common denominator would be the public library. ... Today’s library is not merely a window looking into the world; it is a door giving entry into the universe of the future.”

A new publication from the National School Boards Association is designed to help board members better understand their role in the formulation of budgets.

Budgeting School Dollars: A Guide to Spending and Saving, covers such topics as steps in preparing a budget, how to stretch the purchasing power of available dollars, and ways to ensure sound fiscal management in a district. It was prepared by Ivan D. Wagner, professor of educational administration at Ball State University, and Sam M. Sniderman, deputy executive director of the Michigan School Boards Association.

“The primary objective of this book is to help school-board members clarify their role in the formulation and appraisal of a cost-conscious, quality-minded budget,” said Thomas A. Shannon, executive director of the school-boards association.

The 267-page reference also includes information on goal setting, involving the community in budget planning, indicators of financial trouble, audits, and commonly used financial terms.

For copies of the book, which sells for $19.95 ($14.95 for nsba direct-affiliate members), write Nancy Dickinson, School District Management Services, nsba, 1055 Thomas Jefferson St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007, or call (202) 337-7666.

Patricia Wrightson has been chosen to present next spring’s 16th annual Arbuthnot Lecture of the American Library Association. The lecture series honors the author May Hill Arbuthnot for her promotion of excellence in children’s literature. The lecture was established by the ala’s Association for Library Service to Children.

Ms. Wrightson is an author of children’s books who won the Book of the Year Award from the Children’s Book Council of Australia in 1956 for The Crooked Snake, in 1974 for The Nargun and the Stars, and in 1978 for The Ice is Coming. Last year, Ms. Wrightson, a native of Australia, was selected as that country’s nominee for the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal honoring outstanding achievement in juvenile literature.

Library systems, college education departments, and other interested groups may apply to host the lecture series in April or May of next year. For more information, write: Ann Carlson Weeks, ala, 50 E. Huron St., Chicago, Ill. 60611. The deadline for completed applications is June 15.--ab

A version of this article appeared in the April 25, 1984 edition of Education Week as Publishing