21 February 2022
See the meeting Agenda HERE.
See the meeting Minutes HERE.
At the LPL Board of Control meeting, board President Robert Judge filled the agenda with items designed to make it easier for the Board of Control to censor books and other materials held in the Lafayette Public Library system. See the full agenda HERE. The meeting room was packed (all seats taken, standing room only in the back) with members of the public opposed to these efforts. Members of the media were also present.
Item VIII.B. was intended to create restricted library cards for all patrons age 14 and under by default. Parents would have to OPT OUT of this program. No guidelines were given as to which materials would be restricted, or who would choose those materials. Many members of the public spoke out in opposition to this policy, most stating that only parents should make decisions about what their children should have access to, not library administration. Not one member of the public spoke in favor of this proposal. In the end, the proposal was tabled, which means it can be brought up at a later meeting.
Item VIII.C. Was a proposal to change the Collection Development Policy, Section X. Because the agenda item had no information other than "board will be asked to take action," members of the public could only speculate as to what changes Mr. Judge had planned.
Section X of LPL's Collection Development Policy deals with only one topic: Requests for Reconsideration of Materials, i.e. book/other material challenges. Since two recent book challenges backed by some board members, and brought by an out-of-parish (county) right-wing political operative had failed, it was safe to assume the policy change would directly address that. This, it turned out, was correct.
Board President Robert Judge began by stating current Reconsideration policy--when a book is challenged, an ad hoc committee is convened (by whom was not made clear) consisting of two librarians (appointed by the Library Director) and one Board of Control member. Judge stated that his proposal was to change the makeup of that committee, removing both librarians and replacing them with Board of Control members, so that the committee would then consist of three Board of Control members.
David Pitre, another Board Member, then suggested that the motion be amended to keep *one* seat for a librarian. This was the version which was ultimately voted upon and approved, giving the Board of Control members a majority on all Reconsideration Committees, virtually guaranteeing them the ability to ban any book that comes before them from now forward.
It should be noted that the Reconsideration Committee meetings are CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC. Not only is there no policy in place or requirement that the public be informed that a challenge has even BEEN FILED, but the public WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO ATTEND OR COMMENT at any of these meetings, nor have we been informed that we HAVE THE RIGHT TO APPEAL.
At this same meeting, a member of the press was assaulted and her phone grabbed while filming. Board President Robert Judge, who had been repeatedly screaming for order and harassing members of the public who opposed his proposed policy changes, did nothing to stop the person harassing her. Meanwhile, Judge had another member of the public arrested for simply speaking out of turn in protest against the board's alarming actions. A third person, with a valid press pass, was locked out of the building after documenting the arrest and not allowed to reenter the meeting.
A year after the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control first made national headlines for censoring a program on the history of Voting Rights, we are still fighting. We are a small group of determined citizens battling dark money, systemic racism and anti-LGBTQ+ hatred. We are fighting for ourselves and our children and our community. And we are not going away.