Choosing a Candidate

Choosing the person we wanted to interview was really easy for us. We had Karin Perry, the librarian at the time of the case, in mind from the second we started our research. She is the closest person to the case besides Ellen Hopkins herself. We sent Ellen Hopkins an email asking for an interview, but we knew that was a long shot. We also tried to reach out to a teacher at Whittier who was there during the case, but she did not get back to us in time due to personal reasons. We might still choose to talk to her later on, but this week our focus has been on curating interview questions for Karin Perry.

Reaching Out

A few weeks ago, I emailed Karin Perry to tell her about our project and assess how interested she would be in helping us work on it. She replied very quickly, and was willing to answer any questions we had. I asked about an electronic interview, and she replied with, “Send me questions and I will answer them for you.” I told her we would plan on compiling a list of questions to send to her soon! This week for us has been about getting started our website, making adjustments to our project contract, and decided on the questions we think will be the most useful to our project.

Writing the Interview Questions

We wanted a couple different results from the questions we ask. First, we would like to get exact information that has not been made available else where. Second, we wanted to her opinion on the issues that she did not post on her blog, or in the chapter from the book on censorship, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries . We worked together to ask questions that will get a good response, without giving away too much of our own opinions on the matter.

We chose the following questions:

  • What are your feelings about the suitability of Glass and the rest of the Crank series for middle school audiences?
  • Were you surprised by the complaint? How often did books get challenged while you worked there?
  • Were students and parents at Whittier Middle School aware that Ellen Hopkin’s books and visit were being challenged? If so, how did they seem to feel about it?
  • To what extent do you think the complainant’s issues with the book reflected concerns of the Whittier or Norman communities? Do you feel as though it was an isolated incident, or indicative of larger trends?
  • Do you feel like the administration of Norman Public Schools and Whittier Middle School handled the Ellen Hopkins case effectively and fairly?
  • How did Ellen Hopkins handle the situation once her talk was moved?
  • What effect has this case had on the overall discussion about book censorship? Do you think censorship issues are important and still worth talking about?

I plan on emailing her back with a GoogleDoc of our questions, so that she can answer them easily at her convenience. We will send them out after class on Monday. I will encourage that she send us a response within two weeks, as well as sign the form and email it to us, so that we can use her answers on our website. We are on track to have our interview completed very soon, and we are excited to see how she responds to us!