The Lakewood Ranch library will soon be finished and the shelves will need to be populated with materials to read and watch. It appears selection of the books and media for the library may get an additional level of unnecessary and potentially harmful interference in this selection. The below letter, sent by email to the Friends of Lakewood Ranch Library, voices the concern over this process and a request for support. The bolding and italics were done by the League.
As most of you are aware the Library was asked to present at a Board of County Commissioners (BCC) meeting on February 21st. During that presentation Commissioners publicly questioned the motivations and professionalism of the staff. It was also stated that the American Library Association was a ‘woke’ organization and their standards should not be considered reasonable. The ALA is the accrediting body for librarianship in the United States – without an ALA accredited degree you are not considered a credentialed librarian, there is no alternative. Here is the link to the meeting February 21, 2023 – BCC Work Session – YouTube – the presentation is about an hour in. Commissioners comments begin in earnest about 30 minutes after that.
A suggestion was made to create a commissioner appointed advisory team for the purposes of overseeing library collection development practices. This suggestion was made despite already having an advisory board in place and there is no precedent for having a secondary advisory board for any of the other existing citizen advisory boards in the County. Here is the list. Advisory Boards – Manatee County (mymanatee.org)This idea is still being considered and may be voted on at a special meeting being held on April 18th in the afternoon in the 1st floor chambers, Administration Building, 1112 Manatee Avenue W, Bradenton, FL 34205. The meeting is listed on the county website as starting at 9:00am but this topic is scheduled for the afternoon. The agenda is posted.
Up until this year the BCC has not designated a Commissioner Liaison to the Library Advisory Board, to date the liaison has attended one meeting.
We are unsure of the motivation leading to this. If the BCC would like to gain understanding of the library and provide more oversight the mechanism is already in place. The appointment of a secondary citizen board is a provocative move.
If they are to provide collection oversight, it may be likely to dictate what segments of our population are represented in the Library collection, particularly if they are not credentialed librarians. Please attend this meeting and contact your commissioners letting them know you are opposed to this idea. The County Commissioners, citizens, and library users would be better served if staff were allowed to continue their work, and the BCC were to engage with the existing Library Advisory Board. We need to remind the commissioners that our librarians are highly trained professionals that include book selection processes. Our commissioners need to show respect for our valued librarians.
I plan to contact all board members and contacts on our email list about this concern and ask you do to the same. Please plan to attend!
Sue Ann Miller, Ed. D.
President, Friends of the Lakewood Ranch Library
Libraries are for Everyone!