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State Library Service to hear 100 speakers on rule changes

The speakers are just the tip of the iceberg, with the APLS reportedly receiving some 4,000 letters during the comment period.

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After 90 days of public comment, the Alabama Public Library Service will hear 100 speakers in person today at a public hearing.

The speakers are just the tip of the iceberg, with the APLS reportedly receiving some 4,000 letters over the course of the comment period.

Each speaker will be given three minutes, which means the public hearing today will last no less than five hours. 

The hearing begins at 10 a.m. today at the Alabama Public Library Service office. There are only 200 seats available, and 100 of those seats are reserved for the speakers.

There will be a brief 30-minute lunch break around 1 p.m. 

At its previous board meeting, the board had about 500 letters submitted and almost all of them were in opposition to the rule changes proposed by Gov. Kay Ivey.

Ivey recommended that the board “make state aid for local libraries contingent on the adoption of sensible policies to facilitate greater parental supervision of their children.”

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Ivey’s suggested changes would require local libraries to implement policies regarding “physical location (and relocation) of sexually explicit or other material deemed inappropriate for children or youth” and “advance approval of materials recommended, displayed, or otherwise actively promoted to children or youth.”

While the rules would require policies on these topics, the rule change does not set out any specific policies a library must have related to these topics.

That led Clean Up Alabama to oppose the changes, writing to supporters that the code changes don’t go far enough to protect children.

“What you need to know right off the bat is that the code changes do not ensure the protection of our children from exposure to radical gender ideologies and sexually explicit content in our public libraries,” the group wrote in an email sent out on Feb. 28. “Nor do the code changes affirm a complete severing of ties with the far left, marxist organization the American Library Association.”

Eagle Forum of Alabama, which partnered with Clean Up Prattville to form Clean Up Alabama, has since sent out form letters, however, supporting the rule changes. Read Freely Alabama has also sent out form letters and held events to gather letters opposing the changes.

The hearing may ultimately not matter—the budget currently working through the state legislature makes state aid contingent on Ivey’s proposed changes regardless of whether they are adopted into the administrative code, bypassing the public comment process.

Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, spearheaded the budget in the House and made the state aid funding conditional, and also reduced the agency’s operating budget by 18 percent.

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The budget is in Senate committee today and will be voted out to the floor as just five days remain in the legislative session.

Newly appointed board member Amy Minton has been lobbying to amend the rule changes to require libraries in the state to adopt policies almost identical to a policy in Prattville that prohibits LGBTQ books in children and youth sections.

Clean Up Alabama is also supporting the amendment, which they likely drafted.

Meanwhile the Prattville library board chair Ray Boles is waiting for the state to drop policies more to the center as he has often stated he does not agree with the policy he passed discriminating against LGBTQ content.

At a committee meeting this month, Boles indicated that the policy dropped in Prattville came at the behest of the state, which needed a library to drop a “really far right” policy so the state could come up with something “more to the center” in comparison.

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

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