South Carolina State Library Leaves American Library Association (ALA), Does Not Renew Membership
From the Charleston City Paper:
Librarians are learning the S.C. State Library in August quietly notified the national trade association for libraries that the state was not renewing its membership because it felt the group was “tone deaf” on local book bans and other issues.
To some, the State Library’s letter appears to be part of a concerted conservative effort to counteract what libraries do. Four days after Aiken’s letter went to the ALA, freshman state Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver disassociated the agency from a 50-year affiliation with the S.C. Association of School Librarians. Among the concerns: how the group spoke out against censorship in libraries.
In an Aug. 21 letter that only became public last week, Leesa Aiken, agency director of the State Library, told the association it would not renew its $3,000-a-year institutional membership and said the association’s “tone-deaf” advocacy has strayed from its nonpartisan principles and is poorly tailored to support libraries in some areas of the country.
Aiken told The Post and Courier the decision is a result of her longstanding frustrations with the organization on several issues, and that she had not publicized the decision in hopes to avoid feeding the flames of political debate.
“This letter was not done because of any political pressure from any organization, the Freedom Caucus, the mothers for liberty — no one,” she said. “Can other groups use it for leverage? They can. That’s not my intention.”
In a statement Sept. 29, the ALA said it had a “brief but fruitful” discussion with Aiken on Sept. 28 and that it is unfortunate she has elected not to renew the State Library’s membership.
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About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.