LEEDS — Directors of Maine School Administrative District 52 approved changes to the district’s policy on selecting library materials.

New amendments place more stipulations around what books are to be selected for school libraries, along with instructions on requests for removal or reconsideration of selected materials.

The approval comes after several meetings and lengthy discussions on what might or might not constitute “obscene” or “sexually explicit” material in library books. The meeting included input from parents and students.

While MSAD 52 Director Ashley Michaud of Turner had previously suggested that the district establish a definition for “sexually explicit,” the approved amendment only disqualifies obscene material.

In a previous meeting, MSAD 52 Director Anthony Shostak of Greene proposed an amendment proposing that “materials need not meet the legal definition of obscenity to be considered inappropriate for students.” This amendment failed by a vote of 5-4.

According to a new paragraph under criteria for selection, materials must be “not obscene” to be included in the district’s school libraries.


In explaining the differences between terms, board Chairman Joseph McLean of Leeds suggested following the Miller test, a national standard for determining whether material is legally obscene.

“The Miller test is known as the three-pronged obscenity test, because the test has three criteria,” he said. “The first one is, does this material we are bringing to the library or our classrooms, as judged by the average person applying contemporary community standards taken as a whole, appeal to the prurient interest,” McLean said. “Prurient interest essentially refers to an interest of inappropriate sexuality, interest that is specifically for the purposes of arousal.”

“Test number two,” he said, is “does the work depict or describe an explicit, patently offensive sexual conduct or excretory functions as defined by state laws? That’s test number two.

“And test number three, does the work taken as a whole lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value? That’s test number three. Work is deemed obscene under this test only if it meets all three criteria,” McLean said.

“In general, the first two criteria are intended to reflect community standards, while the final one considers the perspective of a reasonable person in the country as a whole, he said. “The Miller test is a clear national standard and should be, maybe not easily applicable, but uniformly applicable by our teachers and by any kind of committee that gets into a reconsideration process, as well as the librarians.”

According to the new policy, a superintendent would “report to the board a list of all library materials donated, requested for purchase, approved and rejected at least semiannually.”

The approved changes to the policy will not go into effect until the board’s next meeting in the coming weeks.

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