Dean of Libraries discusses Alabama’s library controversy

TROY, Ala. (TROJANVISION) — Recently, an Alabama organization made a decision that could change the trajectory of Alabama public libraries.

The Alabama Public Library Service (APLS) has decided not to renew Alabama’s American Association (ALA) membership.

Troy University’s Dean of Libraries Dr. Christopher Shaffer believes the APLS’ decision was not the best choice.

“I don’t think it’s a really good idea, but I’m not sure that it changes much of anything,” Shaffer said. “I think it’s political maneuvering, and I don’t think the public really understands the ALA, nor should they. It’s not something that should really come into the consciousness on a regular basis.”

According to Shaffer, the scrutiny over books in public libraries could lead to negative results.

“If we try as a nation, as a community, to start telling everybody, ‘well, you can’t read this, you can’t read that,’ it’s going to be an empty building. If you don’t like a book, don’t read it.”

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For those wondering is Alabama’s decision is going to affect Troy University’s library, Shaffer says it will not.

“Most of our librarians are members of the ALA. It is a requirement, not by Troy University, but from our accrediting bodies that our libraries are educated by ALA accredited schools,” Shaffer explained.

Last year, Governor Kay Ivey asked the APLS to not renew Alabama’s ALA membership. However, at this time, public libraries are still able to publicly renew their ALA memberships.

In November 2023, the APLS planned to vote on the decision but it was postponed. Now, the APLS is revisiting the final vote.

A public hearing is scheduled to take place in Montgomery in April. Alabamians will be able to have their voices heard. The APLS’ official vote will take place after the public hearing.