Alabama Public Library Service delays vote on disaffiliation from the ALA

The Alabama Public Library Service postponed a vote to disaffiliate from the American Library Association.
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 6:17 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2023 at 7:42 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Alabama Public Library Service postponed a vote to disaffiliate from the American Library Association on Thursday.

The ALA is a librarian professional development organization that recently has been under fire in Alabama.

Opponents of the ALA believe the group promotes Marxism, discriminates against faith-based organizations, and supports keeping sexual content in libraries.

“If you have a group that elects an openly Marxist candidate, that also reflects on the group that elected her,” said APLS board member and ALGOP chairman John Wahl.

The Alabama Public Library Service decided to study how disaffiliating from the group will impact local libraries before an official vote.

“Pulling out of the ALA will not affect how Alabama librarians do their jobs, because they will still hold to the tenets of constitutional librarianship, regardless. It will take away resources, training resources,” said Angie Hayden with Read Freely AL.

The goal for people on both sides of the issue is to protect children’s library experiences.

“The best way to protect marginalized people is to have the majority hear their stories with curiosity,” said Leah Welburn, an Auburn resident.

“Their childhood free of inappropriate material and free of a social agenda,” said Wahl.

When asked for examples of inappropriate content in books, Wahl said it was too explicit to repeat, but others say the books in question are being targeted because they appeal to an LGBTQ audience.

To address concerns, the APLS will give libraries an inappropriate books list based on public input in December.

“I believe in the right to read freely. But I also believe that doesn’t mean putting the material where innocent children can stumble upon it,” said Wahl.

Libraries already have their own book review processes, one reason opponents continue to question this list. Opponents also call this an attack on diverse communities.

The Alabama Public Library Service plans to reconsider a vote to disaffiliate from the American Library Association in March.

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