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Public comment period on APLS changes expected to start Feb. 1

The suggested changes could put conditions on state aid for local libraries.

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A 90-day public comment period on proposed changes to the Alabama Public Library Service  administrative code is expected to begin at the start of February.

Gov. Kay Ivey suggested that the agency make changes to its code in response to an outcry from some people that libraries provide “inappropriate materials” to minors.

The suggested changes would make state aid for local libraries contingent on the adoption of “sensible policies to facilitate greater parental supervision of their children.” The code would also require libraries to file policies on how they handle relocation of materials and getting advance approval materials recommended, displayed or promoted to youth. 

Local library boards would also have to approve any expenditures made to the American Library Association.

Director Nancy Pack confirmed to APR Wednesday that the proposed changes have been submitted to the Alabama Legislative Services Agency and should be published Jan. 31 to begin the 90-day window for public comments. The APLS board will meet the day before after having to reschedule its meeting. The board is short-handed when it comes to meeting a quorum, in part due to Ivey’s dismissal of longtime board member Virginia Doyle.

Interested persons are invited to present written comments on the proposed rulemaking action described above at any time during the 90- day period following publication of this notice. Written comments should be mailed or hand-delivered to Vanessa Carr, executive secretary at the Alabama Public Library Service,6030 Monticello Drive, Montgomery, AL 36117.

Written comments should be received at the Alabama Public Library Service by 4:30 p.m. CST on April 29, 2024. A public hearing will be held on April 30, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. CST at the above address. Requests to make oral comments should be sent to [email protected] no later than 4:30 p.m. on April 29, 2024. The order of oral comments will be established based on the dates that the requests are received at APLS. Oral comments will be limited to three minutes.

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While lawmakers are vested in whether these changes are made, they may not know soon enough to take action in this session. The Legislature has 120 days from Feb. 6 to conduct business, but can only meet 30 days total. If the Legislature follows its typical three-day week structure, the session would be over and done with before the public hearing is even held. 

An influx of public comments on the changes could complicate matters further, as any additional changes would start a new 90-day public comment window that could delay the process well into the year.

Jacob Holmes is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected]

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