Thursday, May 30, 2024

CLN to break from ALA, continues policy work

Staff Writer | September 9, 2023 1:09 AM

HARRISON — Community Library Network Director Alexa Eccles read an overview of censorship per the Idaho Commission on Libraries as she and the board of trustees gathered at the Harrison Library for a special meeting Friday morning.

"Censorship is the suppression of ideas and information that certain persons, individuals, groups or government officials find objectionable or dangerous," she read. "It is no more complicated than saying, 'Don't let anyone read this book or buy that magazine or view that film because I object to it.'"

Eccles shared this overview as trustees continued to hash out the Community Library Network's materials selection policy and whether the network will disaffiliate with the American Library Association, of which the Community Library Network has been a member since the network was founded in 1977.

The board majority, led by Chair Rachelle Ottosen, intends to send a brief draft resolution to the board's counsel to review regarding departing from the American Library Association. The language comes from Campbell County Public Library in Wyoming, which distanced itself from the association last fall. One of Ottosen's proposed resolutions of three in the board packet cites the American Library Association's election of a "self-avowed lesbian Marxist who states that she wishes to use the collectivist power of the ALA to 'queer the catalog' and/or 'queer the library,' which in one reasonable interpretation of the phrase(s) means weaponizing taxpayers' hard-earned money against them by promoting dangerous Marxist ideology" as a reason for divorcing from the association.

The shorter resolution that will go to the board's counsel, D. Colton Boyles of Boyles Law Firm, who was not present at the meeting, also states that the Community Library Network will not promote the American Library Association's agendas or campaigns, such as Banned Books Week.

Trustees also discussed the network's agreement with the Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, which has notified the network of changes in its insurance renewal offer. ICRMP's Executive Director Tim Osborne spoke Wednesday with Eccles, during which time Eccles asked what the reasons were for the changes.

Eccles reported in a document included in the board packet that Osborne could not disclose the ICRMP board or underwriters' reasons relating to a member's risk, but renewals are based on a review of prior claims and risk. Eccles said there have been no claims in the past two years, to her knowledge.

Trustee Tim Plass recommended the Community Library Network hire Redman and Company Insurance Inc., a Coeur d'Alene agency owned by Jordan Redman, a Republican legislator serving in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Several Harrison residents spoke during the meeting's public comment period about the importance of the Harrison Library and how it serves as a resource for homeschooling families, teenagers and senior citizens. The meeting was at capacity, with several people waiting outside for their turn to speak.

Updated policy and resolution drafts, as well as a discussion about urban renewal district funds, will be presented Friday, Sept. 15 at the next special meeting of the Community Library Network board. The time is to be announced.