Below are links to model letters in response to issues affecting ALA Chapters. They are organized under topics. If your Chapter would like to submit a model letter as a resource for other Chapters, please send to Don Wood.
Bible as State Book
In April 2016, the Tennessee legislature voted to make Tennessee the first state in the nation to make the Holy Bible its official state book. Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the controversial bill on April 19 that would have made the Holy Bible the official state book of Tennessee. Lawmakers need only a simple majority in both chambers to overturn a veto. On April 20, Tennessee lawmakers did not have sufficient votes to override Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's veto of a bill that would have made Tennessee the first state to adopt the Bible as its official book. Forty-three House members voted in favor of the bill, but supporters needed 50 to meet the threshold of the 99-member chamber. Both the House and Senate would need to a majority vote for the bill to become law. The Senate has not voted on the governor’s veto but had approved the bill 19-8 earlier this month.
Thriving communities depend on smart public investment in libraries by Ling Hwey Jeng, Texas Library Association, President 2017-2018; Co-Chair, United Way of Denton County, Community Needs Assessment; Professor and Director, School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman’s University
To take action through ALA, see Fund Libraries landing page.
A model letter was written by Alabama Library Association President Jeffrey D. Graveline. "I write to urge your support for the education, workforce, and economic development needs of Americans by providing $186.6 million for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) in the fiscal year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations bill."
A model letter from the Kansas Library Association President Gloria Creed-Dikeogu. "On behalf of all Kansas librarians and the residents who use library services, I ask that you oppose a pending resource catastrophe in our libraries and that funding to the IMLS be increased and NOT eliminated."
Articles and Electronic Messages
The Ohio Library Council has responded to the ALA's call to action on the proposed cuts to IMLS funding with the following stories on the OLC website:
Transgender laws, like that of North Carolina, require people to use public bathrooms matching their biological sex.
Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (NC)
In response to the controversy surrounding Chesterfield County Public Schools’ summer reading lists, the Virginia Library Association has posted the following on its website:
In response to recent comments raised by the Chesterfield Observer, the Virginia Library Association affirms the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, which is based upon rights guaranteed in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.
- We believe these comments, including the call for the dismissal of school librarians who had produced summer reading lists with a variety of books from which students could choose, a few being cited in the piece as inappropriate reading for students, reflect a misunderstanding of the role of librarians.
- Librarians support and encourage parents’ active involvement in their children’s education. The responsibility for what minors read belongs to the parents alone and may not be delegated to the library or others. The key purpose of a reading list with a variety of choices is to provide caregivers a tool to discuss the merits of recommended works with their children from their value perspective, not promote certain choices or ideals. Research demonstrates that literature teaches empathy, and offers students the chance to learn about others about whom they may have little knowledge or whom they may never encounter outside of their reading experience. The role of the professional librarian is to provide a range of titles as options that reflect a diversity of thought.
- We believe that institutional labeling of books or media by policy or political opinion is a form of censorship, and that parents, students, and teachers can work together to make the best choice when there is a disagreement about what is appropriate for an individual student. Exposure is not the same thing as endorsement of content, and sometimes even violent content or crude language can help students understand the different social experiences of other young people. Restrictive policy leads to self-censoring by educators who would rather avoid conflict, and deprives students the opportunity to be exposed to a wider range of viewpoints to choose from in forming their own personal opinions. Decreasing the range of viewpoints discourages the promotion of diversity, diminishes intellectual rigor, and shrinks the student’s world and thus, the understanding of it.
We encourage all of our members to read the linked articles and statements and to contact friends and colleagues in Chesterfield County to urge them to attend the hearing on August 3 and/or contact their elected policy makers to stand for the freedom to read.
Links to more information:
VLA will send updates, if appropriate, as this situation continues to develop.