CHICAGO – ALA President Sari Feldman, working in conjunction with the Nebraska Library Association, has issued a letter opposing Legislative Bill 969, a bill that would compel cities and towns throughout Nebraska to change their library boards from independent governing bodies to advisory boards.
The letter was distributed to the General Affairs Committee of the Nebraska Legislature, State Senator Heath Mello and Speaker of the Legislature Galen Hadley.
ALA opposes bill LB969, as it would undermine the autonomy of libraries throughout the state, potentially affecting funding levels, equal access, leadership, long-range planning and other services provided by public libraries. Feldman argues that public libraries, led by a strong and independent library board, are a critical democratic resource, dedicated to serving their respective communities.
The content of Feldman’s letter is as follows:
“On behalf of the American Library Association, I am writing to express our concerns about LB 969, a bill that compels cities and towns in Nebraska to change their model of library governance. If passed, LB 969 will require each city and town in Nebraska to change its library board from an independent governing board to an advisory board. We believe that oversight of the public library is best left in the hands of governing, independent library boards, which care deeply about libraries and the people and communities they serve.
Nebraska libraries serve as a model for libraries across the nation. We know that behind every great Nebraska library is a dedicated library board and library staff – experts working together to ensure that the library is providing the residents of the cities and towns of Nebraska with the best library service possible.
Library boards are committed to fulfilling the mission and promise of public libraries as democratic institutions uniquely dedicated to developing informed, engaged citizens and providing individual opportunity and community progress. Independent library boards have proven to be great stewards of the funds entrusted to them to deliver equitable and inclusive public library service.
Library boards understand that libraries bridge the digital divide, offering and maintaining public access to the internet at the best possible cost, while guaranteeing that every member of the community, regardless of race, age, sex or income, the best library service possible: equal access to information and education.
Library boards ensure the public library’s role as a trusted community institution that provides free access to information without discrimination. Library boards work diligently to protect the rights of confidentiality, privacy and freedom to read. These protections are the foundation of our democratic society and are essential values of America’s and Nebraska’s public libraries.
On behalf of the more than 58,000 librarians across the nation in public, school, academic and special libraries, I urge you not to compromise the principles of democracy and the value of public libraries in the great state of Nebraska. Please vote against LB 969.”
Legislative Bill 969 is scheduled for a vote early this week.