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Lafayette Public Library Board of Control releases statement after recent controversies

Student ID cards work as a library card in Lafayette Parish.
Posted at 8:43 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 21:43:41-05

LAFAYETTE, La.  — The Lafayette Parish Public Library Board of Control released a statement on Thursday in response to recent controversies including its decision to reject a grant for a program about the history of voting rights.

According to a release from the board, the response comes due to the volume of emails they are currently receiving and covers "current topics of interest."

"Through this response, it is the goal of the LPL Board of Control to correct the misinformation that has been circulated regarding these topics," it states.

The statement addresses the board's recent decision to reject the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities grant:

According to the LEH, this program would be covering both “historic and contemporary voter suppression topics.” No Board Member ever believed or suggested that the historic portion of this program was controversial. However, Board members did recognize that “contemporary voter suppression topics” included highly political topics, such as voter ID laws, voter rights of felons, and changing the Electoral College system and requested that reasonable measures be followed in order to keep the LPL apolitical. When these measures were proposed, no Board Member expressed any concern for these measures, and the Director agreed to the measures as feasible.

During its Jan. 25 meeting, board members rejected a grant that would create a program to educate community members on the history of voting rights in the United States. The grant would fund books, two guest speakers and discussion groups on the topic. Some board members expressed concern that the series was not "apolitical."

Shortly after the January board meeting, Library Director Teresa Elberson retired. During the meeting some board members deemed the program's speakers "extremely far left leaning" and said they weren't going to "represent the other side."

The statement also addresses the board's consideration of possibly charging non-Lafayette Parish residents a small fee to use the library's services. The board cites an ongoing budget shortage of over $1 million per year due to the loss of a millage renewal in 2018 as the reason why it was considering the change.

However, the board states it is not considering leaving the Bayouland Consortium, which is a consortium of parish libraries in South Louisiana.

The LPL Board of Control has considered the possibility of charging non-Lafayette Parish residents a small fee to enjoy the same, full borrowing privileges as enjoyed by Lafayette’s property tax-paying residents. However, the Board is not considering leaving the Bayouland Consortium. In fact, upon learning about Bayouland, newer board members have publically commended the wisdom in the formation of the consortium to share the costly expense of database resources. We recognize that these resources may not be attainable for individual libraries outside of the Consortium. Therefore, the LPL Board is proud to be part of an entity that allows all Consortium members access to these databases at their respective libraries.

You can read the full statement below:


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