In an unannounced policy change that already has librarians fuming, Sports Illustrated (SI) decided this year to withhold copies of its risque annual swimsuit issue from classrooms and libraries. SI spokesman Rick McCabe acknowledged to LJ that publisher TIME, Inc., neither offered to let libraries opt out of receiving the issue nor announced it beforehand. Though reader mail doesn't indicate that the issue is any racier than before, McCabe gave this explanation: Over the course of time, we've received feedback from some of those institutions saying it wouldn't be an acceptable thing for them to have or to share with their constituents, and the decision was made that this was one way to hopefully alleviate that issue."
Nor was the publisher able to differentiate among academic libraries, public libraries, and school libraries. "It's done as a block," McCabe said. Those institutions that didn't receive an issue can request it either through a toll-free customer-service number or the web site, he said; already some have done so through their serials vendor. While libraries of all types have suffered from the "Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue disappearance syndrome" and thus kept the issue behind the desk, that doesn't mean librarians wanted SI to stop sending it. Writing on the SERIALST electronic discussion list, Lynne Weaver of Randolph-Macon Woman's College reported that her customer service representative told her that the publisher decided it was inappropriate to send to "institutions." She observed, "It seems to me that if one has a subscription to a title, all issues for that subscription period should be sent. It is up to the recipient to decide what to do with the issue once it is received."