Frightening Anti-ALA Bill Makes Headway in Georgia

The state of Georgia propels forward a harshly restrictive bill that would impede the rights of its libraries. Read on to learn more about this pressing issue.

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A map of the state of Georgia is below a stone inscription labeling a building as a public library.

Across the country, as book banning becomes more prevalent, local libraries and entire states are cutting off the American Library Association (ALA). Places like Texas, South Carolina, Wyoming, Montana, and Missouri have made small-scale motions distancing themselves from the nation’s most significant professional library association, and some individual libraries have cut ties. Yet, in Georgia, Republican state Senator Larry Walker proposed a bill that would force the emancipation of all Georgia schools and public libraries from the ALA. This critical legislation passed through the state Senate and is making its way to the House.

The Fuel for the Fire

Senator Walker feels that the ALA is radical, fosters anti-American rhetoric, and exposes minors to obscene, non-educational materials. Upon learning that the ALA granted his local library $20,000 to diversify its book collection by adding LGBTQ+ and BIPOC literature, Sen. Walker made it his mission to limit their influence in public spaces. He claims that these diverse topics are forced upon community members and that they must come to a stop.

A shelf of colorful library books. The white identifying stickers are placed on the lower part of the spine.

Anti-ALA sentiment surged when ALA President Emily Drabinski self-proclaimed herself as a “Marxist lesbian” who wished to use her position to create a better future for the world through the power of inclusivity. Years ago, Drabinski also authored an academic paper titled Queering The Catalog, a fact dug up to be used against her. Conservative Christian group Frontline Policy Action’s Taylor Hawkins believes these two things are evidence showing that Drabinski is forcibly integrating her politics into libraries, abusing the power of her presidency.

A dictionary page focused in on the word "Diversity." A pink highlighter coming from the right, highlights the word.

The American Library Association has responded to the backlash, claiming they remain unbiased, having historically filled positions within the association with individuals of varying political stances. They do not and have not defined themselves politically and state that Georgia’s move to ensure all libraries end their relationship with the ALA is censorship and a political attack in its own right, too. The director of the association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom questioned rhetorically if the same opposition would be targeted at other renowned American organizations.

The front of a public library is framed by leafy green trees. There are two white columns on either side of the brick-walled entrance. Sections of the white awning are painted green, and right about the columns are engraved with the words "Public Library" in white against green paint.

All Eyes on Georgia

Georgia’s bill incites an urgency among librarians, as it threatens their ability to perform their jobs accurately and effectively. If this bill goes into effect, libraries would lose funding and access to necessary library materials, and librarians would be left without professional development and networking. Additionally, it would be illegal for universities to accredit library and information science programs. There are currently no alternatives for libraries, librarians, and universities to receive the same support given to them by the ALA.

Three happy university students sit together on a lawn in a city. The first man in the line of three types on a laptop in a red hoodie. The woman next to him writes in a leather journal and the other man next to her writes in a notebook. The woman is wearing a white puffer jacket and khakis, and the last man is in an orange jacket and jeans.

Public and school libraries are vital educational and supportive spaces in communities everywhere, and restricting the scope of their outreach can be severely harmful to those they serve. A bill such as the one proposed by Georgia could have detrimental long-term effects on its citizens. Knowledge is power, and proper, diverse, and inclusive books are a crucial source of the knowledge needed to ensure the best future for society.

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