Board of Control
Post Meeting Analysis
The December Board of Control meeting was a study in contrasts. On the one hand, the community turned out to support their public library and their librarians in amazing numbers. The meeting room was filled to capacity with over 100 concerned citizens who took time out from the busy holiday season to attend and voice their opposition to disaffiliation with the ALA.
Board members and their political operative handlers love to claim that library supporters are "woke" activists and agitators who only attend meetings in order to cause disruption. However, at the December meeting the crowd included more than a dozen librarians, a former United States congressman (Republican, I would add), a world-renowned folklorist, university professors, teachers, parents, and grandparents. Woke activists, indeed.
Despite the amazing attendance, however, our efforts were, as usual, for naught, as the board continued along its inexorable path of total destruction for our library system. Trapped, as we are, in an Orwellian nightmare of aspirational authoritarianism, the community had to listen as board member after board member lectured us about what a "difficult decision" it was to disaffiliate, but that, in the end, they felt they were forced to act in order to uphold "community standards" and "protect the children," from the "inappropriate content" being "pushed by the ALA."
Even though the board was told by the interim Director that there were no substitutes for the programs and resources the ALA offers, they insisted, like children mid-tantrum, that they would find something anyway. Robert Judge and Stephanie Armbruster, on Step ____ of "How to Destroy a Public Library System," were nearly cartoon-level villains, providing comically thin evidence for their attacks against the ALA-- full of historical inaccuracies, barely coherent conspiracy theories, and a motion that didn't even properly name the library. Sadly, their marks (the other board members) weren't chosen for the board based on IQ levels, and so they sat, slack-jawed and confused, until it was time to vote as they'd been told to.
It would have been funny had it not been our public library system in the crosshairs.
But they weren't done yet! After the vote on ALA disaffiliation, the board still had the matter of fixing their awful Collection Development policy, which I've been complaining about since Robert Judge's "rewrite" back in February, 2023. In a shocking development, it turns out Mr. Judge's policy is not in compliance with Act 436, the new library bill passed by the Louisiana Legislature earlier this year. (He described it as needing a few "tweaks.")
Before the meeting, the board (and LCG) attorney, Paige Beyt, had prepared language to fix the CD policy, but apparently Ms. Armbruster didn't feel that was adequate. Instead, she took it upon herself to do a rewrite of her own, which she then rammed through during the meeting over the objections of Ms. Beyt (due to clear continuing legal issues). Though she acknowledged that there were obviously still problems, Ms. Armbruster and Mr. Judge simply waved them away, claiming they will "fix them later, some time in the next six months" (the legal deadline imposed by the state of Louisiana). By this time nearly everyone had gone home; exhausted, demoralized, and bitterly angry over the board's actions.
The meeting lasted over four hours, most of that taken up by members of the public speaking up for community values that clearly, to the board at least, held no value at all. All protestations aside, however, I could see in the eyes of board members that one message had gotten through loud and clear: the community has had enough, and we aren't going anywhere.
You can't have our public library.
LPL Board of Control Monthly Meeting
18 December 2023
On the Agenda:
Cancel LPL's membership in the American Library Association (ALA)
Change Collection Development Policy to comply with Act 436
An easy link where you can write a letter to board members asking them to vote NO can be found HERE!
Robert Judge's Packet from November is HERE
Public Comment Form HERE
Information About Act 436 Can Be Found HERE
Back again with round two of Robert Judge's attempt to disaffiliate the Lafayette Public Library from the American Library Association, the oldest and most respected professional association for librarians in the world. I won't go into details about why this is a bad idea - you can check out the November meeting notes and analysis to get a good rundown on that - but suffice it to say that we need a large turnout at the December meeting to once again send the message that our public library IS NOT HIS PERSONAL RELIGIOUS PROJECT.
I think the larger issue that needs to be discussed here is how long the people of Lafayette Parish are going to allow this destruction of public property to go on. I use that wording deliberately, because that's exactly what it is. When the takeover of the LPL Board of Control began, back in late 2020, early 2021, I bought into the idea that conservatives simply wanted to steer the direction of library policy to be more in line with their political beliefs. Heck, maybe the conservatives involved at the time believed that, too. Since then, though, I've come to understand that the game plan is much darker, and the desired result is not simply a public library system with conservative operating principles -- it's an experiment in how to successfully dismantle a public library system altogether.
The people engineering this scheme - Michael Lunsford and his backers, Robert Judge, Stephanie Armbruster, and those like them - believe that public libraries shouldn't exist at all. They were smart enough to understand that they could never simply ask the public to vote the library out of existence; the best course of action was to take it down, bit by bit, policy by policy, librarian by librarian, until it was in ruins. This is what they've done. This is what they continue to do. The library is understaffed. There is no director. It is a hostile work environment for those who remain. If the board votes to disaffiliate from the ALA, those spots will remain unfilled.
Without more of a public response, those who want to close our public libraries will accomplish their goal.
To date we've had a group of dedicated library lovers turn out month after month, pushing back against the tide of destruction, but it's not enough. We need a majority of the citizens of this parish to come together on this issue, and to contact their parish councilmen, demanding that these board members, starting with Robert Judge, be removed. We need hundreds of people showing up at these library meetings demanding that this madness STOP. If we don't, one of our most precious resources, something we all (including myself) have taken for granted for decades, may cease to exist.
Enough is enough.