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2024 Louisiana Legislation Watch

Take Action on 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 848
Sponsored by Rep. Steven Jackson
Analysis & Talking Points

 

Text of the Bill

Analysis

In the majority of Louisiana library systems, current personnel budgets are set by the library board of control and cannot be amended by the parish governing authority. This bill would allow parish governing authorities to amend salaries and benefits in the budget. Parish governing bodies have library boards in place for a reason, and that is for oversight. This bill allows parish governing boards the ability to micromanage public libraries instead of leaving it up to the parish library boards of control and directors. 

Talking Points

  • Moving fiscal authority to the Parish Councils is an end run around the independence of library boards of control and radically changes the relationship between any library and its council. It's a very slippery slope for every other independent board and commission in the state. This bill creates the power of the purse as a coercive force.

  • The bill states that the governing authority "may exercise budgetary and fiscal control."  This gives parish governing bodies carte blanche to come in and exercise control at their will, regardless of best practice or recommendations from library directors and library boards of control. 

  • Library boards, who are already appointed by the governing boards to oversee the library, now will have to submit every line item budget item for approval. Governing boards in contentious parishes will have the ability to “strike back at” library boards unwilling to circumvent current library policies put in place for oversight, and take away money if librarians and boards do not censor books upon demand.

  • This bill takes away the local control of library boards for a “big brother” approach that is NOT needed.

  • There have been no instances cited in which this bill is needed. Librarians and library boards of control were not consulted for this bill, even though it would drastically change their operations.This bill is a solution in search of a problem.

  • This bill is concerning in that it says parish governing bodies can alter the salaries of the individual positions (librarian, associate, assistant, etc.). If salaries are 60% of the budget, the governing body could make salaries significantly less instead. This is the same for the professional development category. If professional development is 8% of a library’s budget, the local governing body could amend it to be 5%.Parish governments should not have control over their library on the micro level, and should leave management to the local library boards of control. Parish governing bodies are like any other branch of the local government; they provide us oversight. However, they shouldn’t have anything to do with a library’s day-to-day operations. 

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