From Teen Vogue:
Last summer, a group of librarians from across the country started meeting regularly to discuss the need to make libraries a safe, accessible space for people to read and access all kinds of information. They eventually formed the Abolitionist Library Association (AbLA), a group of library workers, students, and community members who aim to divest money from policing in libraries and redistribute resources to communities. Over the past year, the association has worked to remove police from libraries nationwide and allocate funds to community-led efforts. In June, the group officially launched a website, which shares resources related to police abolition, anti-racism, cybersecurity, and more.
Though the association has dozens of members from various states, members all work toward similar goals on a local level. Reanna Esmail, the lead librarian for instruction at Cornell University and a member of the facilitation team at AbLA, tells Teen Vogue that two of the group’s biggest goals are to ensure that library budgets do not go toward policing and to create a safe library environment without the use of police force.
The fight to remove police from libraries has been ongoing for years: Activists in cities across the country, including St. Louis and New York, have recently called for police divestment, as have students from several universities, including Cornell, Columbia, and MIT. But many members of the AbLA tell Teen Vogue that libraries can uphold policing and the prison-industrial complex in unexpected ways; for example, some libraries use furniture made by incarcerated workers. Association members want not only to remove the police presence from libraries, but reimagine and create a sense of public safety for library patrons that is entirely separate from policing and prisons.