A Win in Louisiana for Independent Library Boards and Free Association

HB946 and HB777 have been "involuntarily deferred" by the Louisiana House and are dead this session.

We are happy to share that two bad bills in Louisiana have been "involuntarily deferred" by the legislature and won't return this session. HB946, which would have eliminated independent public library boards, and HB777, which would have prohibited librarians from joining the ALA, are both dead bills.

These wins are very important for Louisiana libraries and the people they serve. EveryLibrary was proud to stand with the Louisiana Library Association as they actively campaigned against both bills. Our joint calls to action opposing HB946 and HB777 helped hundreds of people around the state contact their elected officials. We stood alongside numerous local library alliances, including Louisiana Citizens Against Censorship, to rally constituents and drive home how much opposition there was to these bills. 

Thank you for your efforts to sign petitions, email, pray, phone calls, and any other way you have been able to make a difference in the efforts of our state's librarians, library staff, library board members, and communities. Many individuals may not be aware of the steps you have taken or the obstacles you have encountered. I, Kenya Iverson, 2023-2024 President of the Louisiana Library Association along with LLA appreciate all of your efforts. Please continue to stand with us, because these battles are not over yet. Keep in mind that the best way to build legislative support is to have strong public backing. You and hundreds of others who have signed petitions are that support. It is a great feeling to have so many people who understand how important libraries are to our communities. After all, we are in this together! - Kenya Iverson


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HB946 tried to politicize libraries by placing them under the direct financial control of the Parish Council. Earlier in the session, they tried to do the same with HB640, which would have made it possible for Parishes to fire library trustees without cause and for political reasons. Lousiana's statutory protections for independent library boards go back generations and are designed to ensure that collections, programs, and services can be made for everyone regardless of what party or politician is in charge of a Parish. Likewise, independent library boards guard against political patronage and unfair contracting that can happen in politics. Seeing HB946 involuntarily deferred is important because it means that enough members of the legislature heard from their constituents that this bill was so unwise and unwelcome they wanted to be done with it. 

EveryLibrary was against HB777, the anti-ALA bill, from the beginning because it was an attack on the principles of free association. No state should be legislating against libraries and librarians joining professional associations. It is unconstitutional for the state government to demand that its citizens cannot come together to talk about their professional responsibilities. It is unwise to limit access to professional development resources, too. But this bill was particularly un-American because it would have imposed jail time on librarians for being a member of an association. It is very important that the Louisiana legislature involuntarily deferred HB777 because it shows that they saw the Constitutional defects in the bill and heard from their constituents. It is a direct rebuke of Citizens for a New Louisiana and their anti-American agenda. 

Active opposition to these bills and strong coalition work made the difference here. Amanda Jones, immediate past president of the Louisiana School Library Association, puts it best: "Public library board of control members can continue to oversee their respective libraries without worrying that they will be dismissed without cause. All Louisiana librarians will be able to continue attending ALA conferences in order to learn and grow in their profession without fear of being criminalized. Both of these victories were the direct result of your support. Legislators from both political parties came together to make decisions in the best interest of libraries, and they spoke about the overwhelming opposition they received through all of the messages and petitions in support of Louisiana’s libraries.... Thank you!" 

Now it is time to return to the last few ant-library bills in Louisiana. This has been an unprecedented year in Louisiana for bills that target libraries, librarians, and the right to read. EveryLibrary is continuing to support the calls to action from the Louisiana Library Association in opposition to all of these bills. If you are in state, please take action today against HB414 and HB545, two bills that would criminalize librarianship in public libraries and school libraries. These bills would make it easy for local prosecutors to charge librarians and educators under criminal obscenity laws for the books on their shelves. It would be open season on the First Amendment if either passed.

As Amanda Jones reminds us, "Emails and petitions matter. Voicing your opposition matters." 

EveryLibrary spends money on advertising and outreach about every petition and calls to action to make sure it reaches constituents and voters who care. We are the only national library organization committed to this effective and proven approach. Please donate today to help us reach the people who care in local communities and across numerous states in future campaigns.