Sports Illustrated Stripped From Rack

In new policy, swimsuit issue isn’t delivered to libraries— but Lamont requests a copy


Last year, students who didn’t want to shell out for Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue could head for the magazine racks at Lamont Library. This year, they’ll have to wait.

Sports Illustrated magazine withheld its annual swimsuit edition—cover price $5.99—from libraries and schools this year, in a move that has sparked controversy across the country. At Lamont, a librarian has requested a copy of the issue, while several House libraries that subscribe to Sports Illustrated are going without the 238 pages of skimpy swimsuits and car advertisements that have become an American institution.

“It seems a bit arbitrary for Sports Illustrated to withhold an issue that’s part of our subscription,” said John C. McMillian, the librarian for Quincy House. Quincy, along with Adams and Lowell, is among the Houses that subscribes to Sports Illustrated but didn’t get the swimsuit issue, which hit newsstands about a month ago.

“If someone really wants it I guess I could request it,” McMillian said.

Under the new Sports Illustrated policy, the annual swimsuit issue would not be sent to schools or libraries unless librarians explicitly asked for it. While the magazine did not return a request for comment yesterday, Sports Illustrated representatives have said the move came as a response to some librarians’ concerns over propriety.

“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,” Sports Illustrated spokesman Rick McCabe told Library Journal magazine.

Nevertheless, the issue is available on request in the Widener Library periodicals room.

“This issue being famous as it is, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be part of our collection,” said Whitney A. Williams ’10, who works at the periodicals room in Widener. “After all, we do have Playboy right back there.”

Sean H. Crawford and Anne M. Frankel, periodicals librarians at Widener and Lamont, respectively, both referred questions to Harvard College Library spokeswoman Beth Brainard. [SEE CORRECTION BELOW]

“No one’s come and asked for it yet,” said Stephen G. Kuehler, a librarian at the reference desk in Lamont on Sunday.

“But I guess they would be embarrassed to ask a librarian,” he added.

Not all patrons are so shy, however. According to Williams, a visitor to Widener recently requested to see every single issue of Playboy magazine dating from 1965.

This year’s incarnation of the swimsuit issue, which was first published in 1964, features singer and actress Beyoncé Knowles on the cover, kneeling provocatively on a sand beach in a red-and-yellow two-piece bikini.

Alongside photos of swimsuit-clad models to be viewed through special 3-D glasses, the magazine showcases pictures of women wearing nothing but body paint. There is also a four-page spread of a hairy, naked man sprawled out over a bear skin, advertising cable television.

The swimsuit issue remains popular at Out of Town News, where it commands an entire shelf to itself.

Out of Town employee Jalil Chowdhury said the issue sold between 30 and 40 copies a day when it was first released.

There is good news for students determined to enjoy the swimsuit issue in the privacy of the Lamont Library Café, however.

According to Brainard, Lamont has requested a copy of the swimsuit edition from its magazine vendor. It should arrive in a few days.

Interested students can also head to the Mather House library, which has received a copy of the issue, according to House librarian Joseph S. Ronayne.

—Staff writer David Jiang can be reached at

CORRECTION: The March 13 article "Sports Illustrated Stripped from Rack" gave incorrect titles for Sean H. Crawford and Anne M. Frankel. Their correct titles are Library Assistant and Serials/End-Processing Assistant, respectively.