In the latest political flashpoint concerning our nation’s libraries, a group of Republican lawmakers in Idaho has joined a growing chorus urging an immediate break with the American Library Association (ALA). They argue the organization has drastically strayed from its educational purpose and American ideals, adopting a hard-left agenda. The incident underscores the vital debate on public institutions’ role and the direction libraries take across America.
On Monday, 13 members from the Idaho legislature’s Freedom Caucus voiced their concerns, advocating for the Idaho Commission for Libraries and all local libraries to terminate their affiliation with the ALA.
“We have significant concerns about the election of Emily Drabinski, a self-described ‘Marxist-lesbian,’ as the next president of the ALA,” the lawmakers stated, referring to the president-elect’s 2022 social media post celebrating her election and potential for collective power.
The legislators criticized Drabinski’s proposed use of “queer theory” in cataloging books, which they argue will diminish traditional family values and create a murky distinction between biological gender. Drabinski, a librarian at the City University of New York Graduate Center, proposed this idea in a 2013 paper.
The lawmakers further argued that the ALA had pressured libraries to include explicit content targeting young children under the guise of LGBT resources. They point to the ALA’s promotion of 13 books as the most “challenged” under the current educational environment, many featuring explicit material.
This conservative backlash against the ALA isn’t confined to Idaho. Neighboring Montana severed ties with the ALA earlier this month, a move lauded by other Freedom Caucus chapters in Wyoming, Georgia, and Mississippi, where lawmakers are urging their local libraries to follow suit.
The Idaho Freedom Caucus did not mince words in their statement. “We have a duty to uphold the ideals of Liberty embedded in our Idaho Constitution and to protect children.” The call for the ICFL to withdraw from the ALA is an urgent plea to safeguard the interests of their state, its libraries, and its patrons.
Idaho is making a move to leave the American Library Association now too! Good for them! It should happen is as many states as possible and, more importantly, in every local county and city district that can pass it. No more Communist organizations ruining our communities! https://t.co/RRNvjAZMzT
— James Lindsay, hottest mid in America (@ConceptualJames) July 17, 2023
American-born author and leading commentator on Critical Race Theory, James Lindsay, supported the Idaho Freedom Caucus’s efforts on Twitter, saying, “No more Communist organizations ruining our communities!”
These bold moves in Idaho and Montana serve as a critical wake-up call. Public institutions like libraries, trusted by millions, should not be co-opted by ideological zealotry. The appointed officials on library boards must take decisive actions to address these concerns.
As the pendulum swings, it is clear that more states will likely review their ties with the ALA, seeking to create a library environment that is not swayed by radical ideologies or explicit content targeting children and teens. The time may be ripe for establishing a new neutral library association, prioritizing education and American ideals.