Protect Nebraska Libraries!
The Nebraska legislature is currently reviewing a terrible bill for libraries that needs to be stopped.
LB 969 would put politicians in charge of local libraries, instead of librarians and boards. The General Affairs Committee there is set to have a hearing on it Monday, February 1st. Our colleagues at the Nebraska Library Association have their call-to-action up on their Legislative Action Center. If you are a Nebraska librarian, board member, or Friend please click through to NLA's site and make your voice heard by the Committee. When you tweet or post, please use #noLB969 to help share and aggregate.
The bill, LB 969, is designed to destroy the authority of library boards of trustees across the state and open librarians up to political forces. LB 969 would shift the responsibility for governing libraries, for setting library policy, for hire/fire of staff, and even collection development away from the trustees and librarians to be solely controlled by local Mayors and City Councils.
LB 969 is isn't the will of the people, it's a political power grab. The legislative history of LB 969 started with one hearing back on September 25, 2015 that was a litany from a few mayors, city administrators, and other hangers-on complaining about their librarians and boards not following their every wish. The transcript of the hearing is an interesting read, but there is no compelling interest across the state of Nebraska to void and invalidate over 150 years of library law to put local politicians in charge of libraries instead of librarians and trustees. Read the bill. Start on Page 8. Then review 5 new pages of laws on Pages 13 - 18. Here is our analysis:
- LB 969 would strip library boards of trustees of their civic and taxpayer accountability responsibilities and reduce them to advisory only.
- The law would make it the “sole responsibility” of the mayor/council-appointed library advisory committee to decide what books people can read, not professional librarians who are trained in literacy development and skilled at helping readers of all abilities, interests, and levels. This makes what is available at the library subject to political agendas and local politics rather than letting adults read freely. (15-230 Sec 6 and parallel language in 16-251)
- The law would require that all donations made to a library are instead made to the mayor and city council "in trust or otherwise". Do people want donations intended for the library to instead go to whatever a mayor or council think should be done with them? (15-230 Sec 2 and parallel language in 16-251)
- Historically in Nebraska and all across the country, library boards of trustees make hire/fire decisions about the library director. This keep that position of public trust free from politics and patronage. LB 969 allows for not just the library director to be appointed by the mayor and city council, but it also allows them to hire or fire anyone on staff - from the librarian to the custodians - making the library a huge political patronage honeypot. (15-230 Sec 4 and parallel language in 16-251 )
- LB 969 will make day-to-day library policies into city or town law. It will keeps libraries from changing and growing to respond to their communities. Every time they need to innovate to meet the changing needs of the community, they will need to get the city council and mayor to change the town laws. (15-230 Sec 3 and parallel language in 16-251)
- LB 969 changes an easy to understand law that’s been on the books for generations in every city and town in Nebraska into a dense thicket of dozens of new laws and regulations that radically change the way the libraries serve the public, and who controls the money.
- Your public library records are supposed to be confidential in Nebraska. It takes a court order to open them. If LB 969 passes, mayors and city councils are now the trustees for your library. Do you want the politicians to have access to your borrowing records and what websites you visit?
- It removes local control of your library. LB969's provisions allow the state to step in and dictate how to run your community's own library.
This law will affect every city and town in Nebraska. A mayor isn't a professional librarian. A city council shouldn't be the board of trustees for a library. And yet LB 969 gives them all the authority and responsibilities as if they were.
We are fielding a petition across Nebraska to rally concerned citizens about LB 969. The committee hearing is coming up fast. The committee will vote sometime in the next week to 10 days. Please sign the petition and share the petition. The members of the General Affairs Committee need to hear from library advocates across Nebraska and around the county.
When you tweet or post, please use #noLB969.
Campaign Tag: #noLB969
EveryLibrary Petition: http://action.everylibrary.org/petition_lb969
NLA legislative action center: http://cqrcengage.com/alane/
NLA on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Nebraska-Library-Association-128333515387/
NLA on Twitter: https://twitter.com/neblibraries
NLA Legislative Day is scheduled for March 8th in Lincoln, NE.