Category: Progress Updates

Finishing Up the First Draft

Our goal for turning in the first draft was to have all of our pages finished. We did not want to leave anything out, that way the rest of the semester can be spent perfecting anything our peers point out.

Technical Difficulties

As I have said before, I am not the most technologically advanced person in the world. Genevieve and I originally really liked how user friendly a website called Venngage was for that exact purpose. Neither of us had ever created an info graphic before, preferring generally to stick to the writing part of technical writing. Sadly, venngage turned out to be anything but user friendly.

I emailed Leah last week, frantic, because no matter what I tried, I could not get either of our graphics to show up on the site. She installed a plug in for us that still didn’t work. She tried something else that appeared to work from her end, but when I tried to do, it only showed up about half the time.

We were really sad to scrap our graphics, but we had no choice but to start over.

Learning to Use Google Sheets

Since I was working on the page of our site about Norman, Oklahoma and the schools, I knew that I wanted to include relevant information about the people who lived there. I had all of the data, but no knowledge of how to put it in a spreadsheet in the correct form. Eventually, I figured it out, and made three graphs that match our theme. I’m really proud of myself for them.

During this process, I actually feel like I became relatively fluent at embedding things into word press. Besides the actual writing, I was able to play around with the site and make it look exactly the way I wanted it.

Learning by Being Stubborn

There were some little problems with the layout of the website that honestly made me want to throw my computer against a wall. One really dumb one was the fact that WordPress does not automatically register an empty text box on the actual website. I finally figured out (after immense internet searching) that all you have to do is press control+enter.

I love buttons. There are probably 20 buttons on our website because they are exactly what I was looking for. I was so happy when Leah showed us how to use them in class, because I genuinely would never have figured it out.

Overall I am just really proud of the website Genevieve and I have been able to create together. It was not intuitive to me, considering how long I struggled every time we needed to use Google Sheets. However, I think this experience so far has been invaluable, and I can’t to see what everyone else thinks of our website.

We Took a Vacation

Since Genevieve and I were in Albuquerque almost all of last week, I can’t say that we did a lot of research. However, this might be a good opportunity to catch up on somethings I did not blog about.

Emailing Karin Perry

A couple weeks ago, I reached out to Karin Perry, the previous librarian of Whittier in Norman. She replied very quickly, directing me to her blog of the events, including a timeline. She also corrected something that Ellen Hopkins likes to tell people about the case: Norman did not take her books out of the library. During Censorship disputes, they always keeps the book(s) available until after the decision is made. Karin seemed willing to answer any further questions we had, but I thought that was a really interesting piece of information.

Receiving Information from the School

In that same week, we set up a phone interview with Kathryn Lewis, the Director of Media Services and Instructional Technology of Norman Public Schools. She read us the protocol for challenging and removing a book, and also sent us the parent complaint and the board meeting results. She also happens to know my sister, and they talked about our phone call. Kathryn mentioned that she actually went and listened to Ellen Hopkins talk a few years after the case, where she reported the same false information that Karin Perry corrected me on. I got the information from Ellen Hopkins blog post.

I think this could be a really interesting avenue to explore for our website. The reality of censorship vs. the rhetoric that is propagated from it. Hopefully, we can find more interesting tidbits like that as we continue working.

Progress Update: Actual Progress Gets Made

At the beginning of our project, my partner and I were having trouble finding a case to research. We only found one case, in which Brave New World was challenged in Yukon in 1988. For a while our research was stunted. We discovered an article about the school board meeting, where the angry parent started yelling after they voted to keep the book in the curriculum. This seemed like it had potential to be interesting, but since it was so long ago, we wanted to keep our options open for another case.

Another Case Opportunity

I emailed two librarians I know who work in Norman Public Schools on Wednesday. I inquired if they had any knowledge of censorship disputes in their school system. Kelsey Barker, the librarian at Longfellow Middle School, responded with links to news coverage of a very interesting case. In 2009, at Whittier Middle School, the librarian won a charity auction for a visit from author Ellen Hopkins. She was scheduled to come talk to students during Banned Book Week, because her poem books are constantly challenged for their mature content. A parent challenged her book Glass at the same time. They took her books out of the library during the dispute and cancelled her visit.

The backlash from this was astounding. We found multiple newspaper articles, references to it being discussed on a local news station (although we have been unable to find a working clip), and a blog post by Ellen Hopkins. This blog post led us to uncover a poem she wrote about the event for Banned Book Week. She ended the blog post with the last stanza:

“Torch every book.
Burn every page.
Char every word to ash.
Ideas are incombustible.
And therein lies your real fear.”

Ellen Hopkins, “Manifesto”

Research Begins

As a team we immediately got to work. I found the email address of the librarian who worked there at the time. Her name is Karin Perry and she now works in higher education at Sam Houston State University. Since that is five hours away from us, I plan on emailing her to see if she would be interested letting us conduct an interview via Skype. My older sister also used to work at the school, and told me she would contact a teacher connected to the case to ask if she could share her information with us for the project.

Genevieve emailed the current superintendent of Norman Public Schools, Dr. Nick Migliorino, requesting a release of the information involving the case. Alesha M. Leemaster, the director of communications and community relations, emailed us back the next day. She was, understandably curious about the nature of our project, which did not surprise us. She inquired as to the nature of the class, what we planned to do with our research and how it would be displayed. She seemed willing to work with us for the time being. We haven’t heard anything else from the office yet. Hopefully our research will keep progressing.

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