Governor Kay Ivey is demanding answers from Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) director Nancy Pack, whose office has been placed at the center of the statewide debate surrounding sexually explicit library books for minors.
APLS is a state agency with board members appointed by the governor. The board is responsible for selecting the director.
Pack has come under fire in recent months after residents in several counties and municipalities have expressed concern over sexually explicit children's and young adult books in public libraries.
Questions still loom about Pack's role in the attempted and successful cancellations of conservative events at various libraries statewide.
Several lawmakers attended the most recent APLS board meeting, where the board requested an attorney general's opinion on its authority to regulate libraries, as well as investigating the influence of the American Library Association (ALA), which directly supports the books in question, and is run by a self-proclaimed "Marxist Lesbian." District 5 board member and Alabama GOP chair John Wahl also requested an investigation into the prevalence of sexually explicit books in the state and the event cancellations.
In a letter sent to Pack, Ivey issued a series of concerns with the library issue. She also demanded answers on APLS's partnership with the ALA and other APLS protocols that stem from ALA guidelines.
"Public libraries play a vital role in our communities," Ivey said. "They facilitate research and learning. They provide recreation. And they promote literacy by fostering a love of reading that will improve our citizens lives and uplift our State's communities. Regardless of background or income, Alabama libraries are or should be a safe place for all individuals in a community, including families and children, to read, learn, and explore."
In her letter, Ivey gives examples of specific sexually explicit or LGBTQ-promoting children's books found in libraries, saying she believes the inclusion of the books makes her question if the state library system is fulfilling its mission.
The full letter can be found below.
"Rather than supporting Alabama families, out-of-state library groups like the American Library Association appear to be making the situation worse," Ivey said. "The ALA's 'Library Bill of Rights' -which the Alabama Public Library Service has adopted as its own- says that a person's library use should not be abridged because of 'age.' Not to be misunderstood, the ALA's website regarding youth access to library resources clarifies that 'like adults, children and teens have the right to find the information they choose,' so libraries must not 'discriminate' based on 'age.' Even more startling, the Library Bill of Rights further provides that all people, regardless of age, 'possess a right to privacy and confidentiality in their library use' a statement that appears to directly contravene Alabama's law giving parents access to their children's library records."
Ivey concluded her letter with a list of questions, saying she required answers before the APLS board meets again on September 13.
The questions are as follows:
· What measures has the Alabama Public Library Service taken to ensure that local libraries are providing parents with means to supervise their children and youth before encountering age-inappropriate materials?
· What role has the Library Service played in advising local libraries about screening inappropriate content in libraries or making determinations as to whether library content is inappropriate for children?
· In the past year, has the Library Service received any complaints from parents about the display of age-inappropriate materials? For each such complaint, please provide a summary of the complaint and the Library Service's (or local library's) response. Please also provide copies of any written correspondence in your possession concerning parents' complaints about age-inappropriate materials.
· To receive supplemental state library aid, local libraries must submit to the Library Service, among other things, written policies addressing such topics as "patrons," "materials selection," and "special services groups." To what extent do the written policies submitted by local libraries facilitate parental supervision over their children's library browsing? Please provide examples of such policies submitted to the Library Service in support of a local library's request for supplemental state aid.
· Are you aware of any model library policies (from any jurisdiction) that support parental supervision of children and youth library browsing? If so, please provide examples. If not, please research the matter and provide a summary of your findings, including examples.
· What role have you or the Library Service played in advising local libraries about hosting events organized by concerned parents, including any events in Millbrook or Madison?
· Please provide an itemized account of how much money the Library Service has paid to the American Library Association over the past five years. For each expenditure, please explain the purpose of the expenditure and what benefit the Library Service received from it.
· To what extent does the Alabama Public Library Service have existing policies or procedures that incorporate ALA rules or standards? Does the Library Service otherwise rely on ALA materials or advise local libraries to rely on ALA materials for any purpose (such as reading lists)? To the extent the Library Service encourages use of ALA suggested reading lists for children and youth, please describe what steps the Library Service takes to vet the lists for age appropriateness and to facilitate parents' rights to guide their children in accessing these books.
· What role does the ALA play in the operation or administration of local libraries? Are you aware of local library affiliations with the ALA? To what extent have local libraries adopted the ALA's "Library Bill of Rights?"
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