John Wahl, ALGOP chair and Alabama Public Library Service board member, released a letter Wednesday detailing his plan to move for the agency’s disaffiliation from the American Library Association.
“The ALA does not share the core values or the future goals of our state or its people. Their open support of Marxism, woke social agendas, as well as their endorsement of discriminating against faith-based groups makes it clear they are completely out of touch with both the people and government of Alabama,” Wahl said. “There can be no solution other than a complete separation.”
Wahl did not respond to APR’s request for further comment Wednesday, but some of his claims about the ALA have been discussed for the pst several months.
Wahl has emphasized his concern about Marxist philosophies in the organization, based on a tweet from current president Emily Drabinski identifying herself as a “Marxist lesbian.”
The ALA itself, however, consists of numerous council members who do not necessarily align themselves with Drabinski’s personal Marxist views.
Wahl claims that the ALA is carrying out “Marxist propaganda” through the placement of “sexually explicit books in our libraries’ youth sections.”
“It has made countless parents distrust their local libraries, put library funding at risk, and damaged the reputation of our entire library system,” Wahl said. “Libraries should be a place of leaning (sic), where we encourage uplifting content, and not a place that pushes a socialist and un-American political agenda.”
APR is not aware of any local libraries who are cataloging books based on ALA guidelines, with multiple library officials telling APR that the ALA is not involved with how they place books.
Read Freely Alabama, a statewide group pushing back against the new spate of book challenges, questioned how many parents have really begun to distrust local libraries.
“John Wahl claims thousands of parents distrust their public libraries. Yet data shows that only a couple of people are submitting reconsideration forms in individual libraries asking to remove books or lock them up to restrict them (and restrict parents’ freedom),” Read Freely said in a response Wednesday. “These efforts have been shot down in Alabama’s most conservative communities by conservative and liberal residents who have found common ground in that parents, not John Wahl and the Alabama government and Clean Up Alabama, have the right to determine what their children read.”
In Wahl’s letter, he references both sexually explicit books and books that “promote a social ideology.”
Book challengers like Clean Up Alabama and Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship have specifically targeted books with LGBTQ+ stories, especially those that affirm gender transitioning.
Wahl will also be making a motion to adopt changes to the APLS code that would require libraries to file policies on how they process challenges of inappropriate material.