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Prattville Library Board chair: New policy is “far right” so state could “move to center”

Boles said he wants the board to “reel back” its policy because it goes too far in discriminating against LGBTQ content.

Prattville Library Board Chair Ray Boles WSFA
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Ray Boles, chair of the Autauga-Prattville Public Library board, met with board member Gloria Kuykendall on April 22 at a public meeting of the board’s quartering committee and talked about what has been going on “behind the scenes.”

During the 20-minute meeting, Boles told Kuykendall that state actors were looking for a library board to drop a “really far right” policy so that the state could then come in and “move more to the center.”

“This is not about this library, it’s about the entire state,” Boles said. “… And that’s why we’ve been getting attacked so hard by that group (Presumably Read Freely Alabama) because they know that what we did will affect the state, what the state will do, and allow the state to go even further than what they would want.”

On Feb. 8, the APPL board approved a new policy that prohibits the library from purchasing or accepting any books marketed to minors 17 and under if they contain “obscenity, sexual content, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender discordance.”

Amy Minton, a board member for the Alabama Public Library Service, has suggested making very similar policy enforced statewide, as an amendment to the code changes proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey. Ivey’s code changes will be discussed in a public hearing tomorrow, and the APLS board will meet on May 16 to discuss what action to take on the code changes.

Boles references the May 16 date numerous times, stating that he wants the board to announce new policies to align with the state, and the board has since announced it will meet on the afternoon of May 16.

“Once the state drops theirs, they won’t have a choice, they have to move … move theirs and we can move ours back, and then we’ll just simply tell everybody — if they say, if they fuss about it — ‘we followed the state,’ is the game plan.  And then I can go back to selling carpet … I already told Rachel and Doug, I’m not coming- I’m gonna fix this before November and then I’m gone. I needed to roll a lot of heads to get it done, but it had to be done.”

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Boles said he wants the board to “reel back” its policy because it goes too far in discriminating against LGBTQ+ content.

“Cause the way it’s written now, see, technically everything LGB needs to be out of the library,” Boles said. “See we don’t need to do that either. I don’t agree with that kind of policy.  I don’t agree with (the content), but I don’t agree- it’s a public library. It is what it is.”

When Kuykendall complained about the board’s existing policy having misspellings, calling it “terrible,” Boles said the policy was fast-tracked based on state timelines.

“We were working with the state, quietly, behind the scenes, trying to get it out, and get it dropped, … if it didn’t happen with that one it was gonna be a whole ‘nother year,” Boles said. “So yeah, we were moving real fast on getting it … And that’s what that other board didn’t realize they screwed up. When they left and they got the new board on here, it freed us up to move fast, to get that out super fast, so the state could take it and clean it up and start working on it and getting it, getting it where it needs to be. “

Boles explained there are two groups “in the background fighting,” and that “what the state’s trying to do is get in the middle.”

“They needed somebody to do it; no library board would do it,” Boles said. 

Boles said he hasn’t “done anything with the books” because it’s “way too far right” but indicated that Vice Chair Rachel Daniels has pushed for action.

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“Poor Rachel, she ha- she was pushing for it, [unintelligible] and I said absolutely not. We’re not doing that. Cause right now it’s just [unintelligible].  We haven’t enacted it. We haven’t- We haven’t done anything with it, we just passed it and then handed it to the state,” Boles said. “If we start removing books, we are in trouble, and then we’re gonna mess up the whole state. And see this is about the state, it’s not about us. And then they’ll fight the state of Alabama.”

The pair of board members also spend time complaining about former mayor Jim Byard posting a Facebook status during the midst of the new policies stating that “In all of history, it’s never the good guys banning books.” The post has over 500 likes and has been shared 467 times.

Kuykendall described her dismay at seeing the post shared by a person who “I’m good friends with her mother and thought I was good friends with her.” Boles said moms of his 16-year-old daughter’s friends also reposted the status, prompting him to tell her that “for the first time in your life, you realize your friends really ain’t your friends.”

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

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