January 19, 2022

ALA President Courtney Young Releases Statement Regarding Indiana’s New Religious Freedom Restoration Act

From the American Library Association (Full Text):

Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (Section 1.IC34-13.9 of the Indiana Code) as passed by the Indiana General Assembly. The law is part of a disturbing trend of  “RFRA’s” that many states are passing to guarantee that people and businesses have the right to exercise their constitutional freedom of religion in regard to the services they offer to the public. Unlike many other states, Indiana does not have a non-discrimination law that protects GLBTQ persons and provides an opportunity to legalize intolerance.

Following Governor Pence’s request that the General Assembly try to fix the law amidst local and national outcry, American Library Association (ALA) President Courtney Young released the following statement:

“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act contradicts the fundamental values of the ALA and libraries. The ALA deplores and rejects any law that violates the civil liberties of any person.  Our association is built around the ALA Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights that reflect this deeply held value.  Access to all applies to libraries as well as restaurants, businesses, and associations like ours.

“We reaffirm that is it is the responsibility of library staff everywhere, regardless of the legal ability to refuse service, to offer equal and unfettered access to all users in keeping with the library Bill of Rights and principles of intellectual freedom.

“The Indiana RFRA has understandably triggered deep concern in the ALA community, which is currently scheduled for its 2021 Midwinter Meeting in Indianapolis.  Although the law has been denounced by the Mayor of Indianapolis, the Chamber of Commerce, and many businesses, the ALA and key Indiana members continue to monitor the legislative situation.

“ALA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is calling for input from the membership—how can we best engage our host communities when ALA holds its conference in the midst of a local controversy that touches us all?

“The ALA and its members will continue efforts to work towards developing a long-term strategy to encounter the growing trend of RFRA’s, which threaten to undermine civil rights and the fundamental principles upon which libraries are founded.”

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.