Director's Search Committee Meeting
29 January 2024
Stephanie Armbruster (LPL BoC member)
Alan Moore (LPL BoC member)
Terry Trahan (community member)
The first meeting of the library's Director Search Committee was very revealing in terms of what we can expect from this board's choice to lead LPL. Realizing their pool of candidates was likely to be quite small (no one wants to work here; Lafayette is nationally known for having a hostile board and toxic workplace environment), they continued their program of removing or diluting the influence of professional librarians on library policy and mission. It should also be noted that committee member Terry Trahan was not in attendance.
Perhaps the most important items discussed were the qualifications for the new Director's position. In line with the Board of Control's recent decision to disaffiliate from the ALA, the committee voted to remove the requirement that the new director have an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited institution. David Pitre, instigator of the disaffiliation action, noted, for example, that someone with an M.Ed and an MBA might be well-suited for the job.
Because of course a business degree is the perfect choice to run a public library.
The big question is now: Is this legal?
Here's a rundown: state law regarding the powers and duties of library board members is covered in R.S. 25:215. That law states "The board of control shall have authority to establish rules and regulations for its own government and that of the library not inconsistent with law; to elect and employ a librarian, and, upon the recommendation and approval of the latter, to employ assistant librarians and other employees and fix their salaries and compensation; provided that no contract of employment shall be made for a longer period than four years nor with any person as head librarian who has not been certified by the State Board of Library Examiners as provided in R.S. 25:222."
That law (R.S. 25:222) states "The board of library examiners shall have authority to establish rules and regulations for its government and prescribe examinations, qualifications, conditions, and requirements for those seeking certificates or permits to practice the profession of librarian."
The description for each and every one of these certifications reads (see p. 55 of the guide):
A. The State Board of Library Examiners will issue _______ certification to individuals who have:
1. a master’s degree in library and information science granted by a library school accredited by the American Library Association;
According to their guidelines, the temporary certification waives the requirement that a director have three years executive experience. Candidates have three years to fulfill that requirement. The provisional certification waives the requirement that a director has passed the exam, and gives candidates six months in which to do so. None of the offered certifications waive the requirement for an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited institution.
Additionally, the State Library of Louisiana publishes a Handbook for Louisiana Public Library Directors, which clearly states, on the first page, the same information. Waivers are only given for lack of executive experience, and "only as emergency measures."
Any way you slice it, library directors must meet these requirements. And while it is true that some very small Louisiana library systems have been given waivers, this is due to the fact that, as tiny systems, they have no realistic way to attract candidates who meet the state requirements. These systems instead frequently hire directors from within who have many years of library service and experience. Lafayette is far from a small system, with nine branches and an average annual budget of over $10 million. There's no way we could be construed as having the same needs or constraints.
It remains to be seen as to whether the committee will receive applications for the job from qualified candidates. If they do, however, and still insist on hiring someone specifically because they are not a librarian and therefore in no way associated with the ALA, they will not only be breaking the law, but, once again, breaking public trust.
LPL Board of Control Monthly Meeting
09 January 2024
On the Agenda:
South Regional Library Renovation Project
Director's Search Committee
January was a quiet compared to December's major seismic shockwave of a meeting. Set against the far-reaching effects of disaffiliating with the American Library Association, the business at January's meeting looked almost...normal. However, there were a few items of note:
1) Stephanie Armbruster gave the update on the Director's Search committee. Though Robert Judge led the illegal firing of Danny Gillane months ago, the search for his replacement has been slow to get started, to say the least. Now it seems the committee of three will finally meet, though Armbruster did announce that the newest board member, Alan Moore, will be on the committee now as well. The first meeting is supposed to be on Monday, January 29 at 10:00am at the Main Library.
2) The NE library project has an important update. The library will be asking for a variance at the Lafayette Planning Commission meeting on January 22 at 5:00pm, in the auditorium of Building C at 220 W. Willow St. for two items from the Commission's report:
a) a traffic impact study for projects over 100 trips/hour
b) construction of a street to tie Venus Dr. to Shadowbluff Dr.
The cost for building the tie-in street alone will take over $400,000 of the library project's budget, money which simply isn't there- thus the need for the variance. Hopefully those will be granted and the project can move forward.
Of course, the board couldn't let the meeting end without disturbing the peace in some form or fashion. Ella Arsement treated the audience to an angry rant in support of booklooks.org, the Moms4Liberty book review site used to justify all manner of book banning and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric around the country. Then Stephanie lit in with a barely concealed personal attack against one of the audience members that went on for quite a while. The board members love to claim that they are the victims in an unending stream of attacks by members of the public, but they see no issue with their own rude, hateful remarks both in and out of the meetings on a regular basis. Hypocrisy at its most polished perfection.
January's Censorship News
Four added to federal free speech lawsuit over Lafayette library meetings (Acadiana Advocate)
Could cost of road construction kill Lafayette's Northeast Regional Library? (Acadiana Advocate
Road extension waived for Lafayette's northeast library (Acadiana Advocate)