Despite officially breaking ties with the American Library Association, the Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) recently distributed brochures for a series of "Library Advocacy Town Halls" provided by the ALA's state chapter to discuss the "war on Alabama libraries."

APLS has been at the center of the state debate over sexually explicit library books made available to minors and children. In addition to residents petitioning their local governments and library boards, Alabama residents have asked the APLS board to address the issue.

After accepting a series of proposed administrative rule changes by Gov. Kay Ivey, the APLS board voted in November 2023 to end its membership with the ALA, much to the dismay of those who favor keeping the explicit books in the children's section.

SEE: State library board delays vote to end membership with American Library Association

SEE ALSO: 'Today the people of Alabama won': State library board approves rule changes for sexually explicit library books

The ALA is a national non-profit that claims to be dedicated to improving library systems through advocacy. It openly promotes diversity, equity and inclusion and seeks to "apply a social justice framework to the ALA strategic directions." It has publicly supported the inclusion of books many parents have found sexually inappropriate for minors.

RELATED: 'Marxist lesbian' American Library Association president not backing down despite Alabama, other states seeking separation

The Alabama Library Association (ALLA) is the state chapter of the ALA. The ALLA lost its status as an ALA chapter in 1961 for refusing to desegregate. However, it currently has chapter status and offers joint ALA and ALLA membership plans, though it is unclear when the chapter designation was restored.

Despite the separation, APLS sent an email promoting ALLA's "Advocacy Town Halls" series earlier this month, inviting recipients to "attend one of our sessions to discuss the war on Alabama libraries and what you can do to help."

APLS Email. Alabama News
APLS email promoting ALLA advocacy training.

The town halls required registration and some who attended the virtual meetings said the hosts made attendees jump through hoops to keep out "unfriendly" people, including requiring attendees to turn on their cameras.

According to one attendee who requested anonymity, ALLA Advocacy chair Jessica Hayes explicitly stated that they were trying to "weed out certain people."

During the meeting, Hayes reportedly addressed the administrative rule changes and how to subtly subvert them.

"During the meeting, [Hayes] said something like, 'We'll be forced, legally, to meet the letter of the law, but we certainly don't need to meet the spirit of the law,'" the attendee said. "And I just think by that she meant there was ways to get around things."

The attendee claimed that the group repeatedly misrepresented the goals of those opposed to sexually explicit children's books. Hayes reportedly bashed APLS Board members John Wahl and Amy Minton, referring to the pair as "anti-library."

In the meeting's chat, provided to 1819 News, Alyx Kim-Yohn, the South Huntsville Public Library circulation manager, stated she was planning a "subtle Pride display" since the rules prohibit Pride Month displays.

"We've actually always received approved display themes and signage from Marketing," Kim-Yohn wrote. "We do have to stand up for those displays sometimes, but we did receive approval for Juneteenth and 'The Life of the Party,' which I'm prepared to use as a subtle Pride display even though we can't use direct 'Pride Month' language."

Minton told 1819 News she was made aware of the town halls and intended to address the email coming from APLS.

"That makes no sense," Minton said. "We're giving them a format to slam us and to complain about the libraries at taxpayer expense."

Minton said Wahl would not be present at the next APLS board meeting but would "definitely be bringing it up when all the members are present."

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