Post Meeting Analysis
We expected bad. The reality was so much worse.
We knew Robert Judge would be making a run at disassociating the Lafayette Public Library from the ALA. We even expected that he would give some sort of speech in the course of doing so. However, he exceeded even my expectations when the agenda item was called and he pulled out prepared packets to distribute to each board member.
This is one of the key problems we've had with Judge's agenda items for years now. Louisiana open meetings law, R.S. 42:19, states, "Each item on the agenda shall be listed separately and described with reasonable specificity." These rules exist for a reason - to inform citizens about the business to be discussed before public bodies. This gives us an opportunity to prepare to speak in favor of or opposition to those items. Without that "reasonable specificity," we have no idea what the board plans to do, and so have no idea how to prepare.
The item on November's agenda, "American Library Association," most assuredly broke this law. Judge knows this and does not care. He flagrantly breaks the law month after month, and the Parish Council refuses to do anything about it.
But back to the packets. Despite eye-rolling from fellow board members and entreaties from his own (LCG) attorney (including a 10-minute recess) that his proposed motion may very well be illegal, Judge treated the room to a half-hour lecture filled with historical inaccuracy, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and allegations printed from far-right anti-library websites. Most of the board either rolled their eyes or sat a bit shell-shocked, clearly having no advance notice of Judge's planned screed. One fellow member, however, was clearly in the know, having not one but TWO audio clips (obviously taken out of context) queued up to support Judge's wildly insane claims of a Marxist American takeover plot within the American Library Association - Stephanie Armbruster. It was obvious to everyone in the room that the two had colluded on the night's antics and had planned the "presentation" together, like high school study partners. If they hadn't been about the business of destroying a public library, it would almost have been funny.
I'm adding a video where I break down some of Judge's more egregious historical inaccuracies, and plan to make another one where I talk about his attacks against the ALA specifically in the coming days. There's just so much - nearly everything he said has to be fact checked and rebutted.
After hearing from Interim Director Sarah Monroe about the many benefits membership in the ALA provides to professional librarians (professional development, grant opportunities, accreditation, etc), from the LCG attorney (that Judge's motion might be illegal), and from numerous concerned citizens, enough board members were convinced to table the motion until the legal questions could be answered. Judge, however, insisted that the board schedule their normally optional December meeting in order to hold another vote on the issue. He wants the Lafayette Public Library out of the ALA now.
If he succeeds, guess what else will continue to disappear from LPL?
LPL Board of Control Monthly Meeting
20 November 2023
On the Agenda: Cancel LPL's membership in the American Library Association (ALA)
Other Meeting Documents HERE
Very alarming on this month's agenda is the board's intention to "discuss and may take action" on the American Library Association. For anyone who doesn't know, this is THE professional organization for librarians and libraries in the United States. It's been around since the 1800's, is widely respected around the world, and provides an incredible array of benefits for both libraries and individual librarians. This includes things like tons of professional development opportunities, networking, resources for making our libraries better, accreditation for institutions, best practices...the list goes on and on and on.
Know what else the ALA provides resources on? Ways to fight censorship in libraries, and the book banners HATE them for that. They've come under fire in the last couple of years by groups like Moms for Liberty and No Left Turn in Education for providing resources on intellectual freedom, and best practices for providing free, open, and diverse collections in libraries. This, to far-right nationalist hate groups, is a cardinal sin.
When the current president, Emily Drabinski, was elected last year, she sent out a congratulatory tweet saying she couldn't believe a Marxist lesbian had been elected president of the ALA. She was excited, and probably didn't think about the political implications of those words. The far right did, however. They pounced. Since that time she's been relentlessly attacked online (even though she took the tweet down), and conservatives have started using it as an excuse to cancel membership in the ALA in some states.
Now personally, I think it sounds pretty dystopian and anti-democratic to be checking someone's card at the door. I don't care what party you belong to as long as you do your job well. But that aside, even if Drabinski's tweet offends you, I think it's a little like throwing the baby out with the bath water to cancel membership in such a prestigious and important organization just because you disagree with the political views of its president - especially since her term ends in just a few months and another president will be taking over.
So once again I'm asking members of our community who love our library to please join us at the Board of Control meeting on Monday. Canceling our membership in the ALA will cost our library a myriad of amazing resources, and make it EVEN HARDER to hire staff who see ALA membership and accreditation as a job perk. This board, with zero understanding of what makes a good community library, is continuing to dismantle our library one brick at a time, and it's heartbreaking to watch. The ONLY way we can stop this is to show up in force. I know it's a holiday week, but PLEASE show up if you can.
Feel free to use the graphic below on your socials.
Parish Council Meeting
07 November 2023
On the Agenda: Replace Board Member David Pitre
Candidate Resumes HERE
Post Meeting Analysis:
As many now know, despite a total of 53 emails, several calls, and two speakers at the meeting, the Parish Council once again appointed a candidate with zero interest or experience in running a library to the Board of Control. Allan Moore's resume is heavy on oil and gas industry experience, something the council seems to think is paramount to an MLIS these days, and his speech to the council asking for their vote indicated that he, too, believes that the library needs an "adult" to fix the "problems" there. The worst part is that some of the council members who voted for him have, in private, acknowledged that what they are doing is wrong, but refuse to change course because in today's hyper-polarized political climate, any vote outside the party line would be held against them during an election, and they will never hold their community's best interests above their own political skins.
We're asking all citizens to write their council members, as well as the Clerk of the Council, Veronica Arceneaux, in support of Christie Maloyed. Christie has served on the library Foundation board for many years, so she understands both how the library works and its current needs very well (including financial). She has a good relationship with staff and the new interim Director. She's thoughtful, non-partisan, and measured in her words and decisions. Most importantly, she supports a free and open library for all.