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2024 Louisiana Legislation Watch

Take Action About This Bill



 

Sadly, LSU, the only ALA-accredited MLIS program in the state, has not released a formal statement opposing HB 168. Sign our petition to demand that LSU respond!

HB 168 Updates!

Our Work is NOT Done!

April 06

Unfortunately, Rep. Carlson was successful in getting HB 168 recommitted (moved) to the House Education Committee. We will update again when the bill is scheduled to be heard once more, but in the meantime, you can contact members of the Education Committee and let them know you oppose this bill!

April 04

Rep Carlson is now attempting to bring HB 168 BACK - in the House EDUCATION Committee instead of Municipal, where he hopes to get the votes he needs to advance. We need EVERYONE to immediately do TWO THINGS:

  1. Call or Email Rep. Phillip R. DeVillier, the Speaker of the House. Ask him NOT to recommit HB 168 to the House Education Committee.

  2. Call or Email Rep. Laurie Schlegel, chair of the House Education Committee, and ask her to leave HB 168 in the Municipal Committee.

March 28

Today HB 168 was heard in the House Municipal Committee, and YOUR VOICES MATTERED. Several committee members mentioned that they had received many emails from citizens, and those emails had convinced them to take their time considering 168, as it was clearly a cause for concern for the public. In addition, several representatives of LA-CAC as well as other concerned citizens were at the committee meeting in person to testify in opposition to the bill. Ultimately, the committee was not convinced that this bill was necessary, as Rep. Carlson could provide no evidence of a shortage of MLIS candidates for director's positions in Louisiana. The committee allowed him to voluntarily defer the bill, with the option to bring it up later in a different form.

HB 168
Sponsored by Rep. Josh Carlson
Analysis & Talking Points

 

Analysis

Text of the Bill

 

Current law (RS 25:215) prohibits Louisiana Library Boards of Control from hiring a “head librarian” (director) “who has not been certified by the State Board of Library Examiners as provided in R.S. 25:222.” 


The state Board of Examiners issues certifications to individuals who have passed the certification exam and  have “a master’s degree in library and information science granted by a library school accredited by the American Library Association.” Waivers can allow directors to be hired provisionally if they have not yet passed the exam (giving them six months to do so), but nowhere in the law are the educational requirements waived.


This bill was conceived as a way to retroactively legalize the Lafayette Public Library Board of Control’s recent adaptation of a job advertisement for their vacant director’s position. The new job description and advertisement specifically remove the ALA-accredited institution requirement, which is in violation of state law.


The board’s (and bill sponsor Rep. Josh Carlson’s) justification for this change is to open up the field of candidates for the director position; however, the job advertisement was written before the board officially opened the position for applicants; therefore, there is no way of knowing what the pool could have looked like, or how many qualified applicants were interested in applying.


It is reasonable and expected that an applicant who is tasked with stewardship of, in many cases, millions of dollars of taxpayer money should have specialized training and the experience necessary to perform their jobs. In Louisiana, for example: Chiefs of police must have successfully completed “the New Chief Management Course not later than one year after such election or appointment” (RS 33:2345) administered by the Law Enforcement Executive Management Institute.


Members of Louisiana’s Board of Pardons and Parole must have a “at least a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university…” In addition, “Within ninety days of being appointed to the committee on parole, each voting member shall complete a comprehensive training course developed…in compliance with guidelines from the National Institute of Corrections, the Association of Paroling Authorities International, or the American Probation and Parole Association.” (RS 15:574.2)


 There are numerous other examples in Louisiana law, which recognizes that highly-skilled positions require relevant education and experience to perform certain duties.

Talking Points

  • Louisiana law requires relevant education and experience for a wide range of specialized supervisory positions. Doing so is both fiscally prudent and legislatively responsible, as it ensures that highly qualified and experienced individuals will protect our public institutions. Libraries are no different.

 

  • The Lafayette Public Library Board policy, on which this bill was modeled, sought to remove the ALA-accredited MLIS degree from the director’s position before the application process was even open to the public. The notion that the position would have few qualified applicants is based only on conjecture; the language was removed solely due to misinformation and unfounded doctrinal accusations.

 

  • Libraries are not physician’s offices nor police stations; they require specialized education, knowledge, and training to operate efficiently and meet the needs of patrons and taxpayers. To stipulate that “board may not require applicants to possess a graduate degree in any particular field or fields of study” (HB168 proposed law) invites a wide range of problematic issues for our state’s library systems, including mismanagement, loss of patrons, and the erosion of public trust due to substandard programming and collection development.

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