More than a month after Tracie D. Hall's abrupt resignation, the American Library Association Executive Board has announced that Leslie Burger will serve as ALA’s interim executive director. Burger is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University and an accomplished librarian and library leader who has won numerous honors and awards, including being named the New York Times Librarian of the Year in 2005. She is also a founding partner of Library Development Solutions, a consultancy that has helped a range of libraries on a range of issues.
Burger is also, importantly, an ALA veteran, serving as ALA president from July 2006 to July 2007. “We are confident that Burger will lead the American Library Association through this interim period with aplomb,” said ALA president Emily Drabinski, in a statement, adding that Burger will work to uphold ALA’s mission. The search for a permanent executive director is underway. Hall resigned her position on October 6.
Also on the ALA front, the Alabama Daily News reports that the Alabama Public Library Service Board voted unanimously this week to delay a vote on disassociating from ALA. "Proponents of Alabama cutting ties with the ALA say the association promotes explicit and gender identity reading material to children, while also criticizing ALA President Emily Drabinski for once proclaiming herself a Marxist. Supporters of the ALA instead say decisions on reading materials should be made on the local level within their communities and that the association provides valuable resources to Alabama libraries."
Bad news for New York library users this week this week, as library leaders announced on advocacy site Invest in Libraries that the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library will end Sunday service, among other measures, in the wake of a mid-year budget cut. "We also will be reducing spending on library materials, programming, and building maintenance and repairs," the announcement states. "Without sufficient funding, we cannot sustain our current levels of service, and any further cuts to the Libraries’ budgets will, unfortunately, result in deeper service impacts. We know how much New Yorkers rely on the vital resources we provide, and we remain committed to meeting their needs as best as we can.” The cuts comes a little over four months after library leaders thanked Adams in June for sparing the libraries from cuts, praising his "true and responsive civic leadership."
The New York Times has more on the fiscal crisis prompting Mayor Eric Adams to order cuts to city services, including library service, in New York. "The cuts to New York City’s $110 billion budget come as Mr. Adams is facing two crises that could come to define his mayoralty and his chances at winning a second term—an influx of migrants from the southern border that he has said could destroy the city, and a federal investigation into his campaign’s fundraising."
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Axios reports that the Free Library of Philadelphia is moving to restore some weekend service. "The extended hours are a game changer in allowing for us to really provide the community what they're asking for,' library spokesperson Trenton Smiley tells Axios."
The Washington Post has an excellent report documenting the last days of Florida high school librarian Tania Galiñanes, who quit her job after immense pressure to ban books. "Tania had planned to spend the rest of her career in the Osceola County School District. She was 51," Ruby Cramer writes. "That was before the school board meeting on April 5, 2022, when Tania watched parents read aloud from books they described as a danger to kids. It was before she received a phone call from the district, the day after that, instructing her to remove four books from her shelves. It was before a member of the conservative group Moms for Liberty told her on Facebook, a few days later, that she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near students."
School Library Journal reports on the number of school and public librarians who have been the target of harassment: "Most librarians reported harassment in person and online over books in the library. Some were targeted for their gender identity. Respondents shared stories of harassment by public library patrons and stressed that more protections are needed for public-facing librarians. Librarians reported varying levels of administrative support."
The Arkansas Times reports that former Saline County librarian Patty Hector, who was fired for refusing to censor books, is mounting a campaign to sit on the court that paved the way for her dismissal. "County Judge Matt Brumley fired Hector on Oct. 9 from her position as director of the Saline County Library System after months of controversy over censorship of children’s books, primarily ones with LGBQT+ topics. Hector, who advocated for keeping books on offer despite calls for censorship, had held the job since July 2016."
the Tennessean reports that officials in Rutherford County, Tenn., have proposed funding restrictions and an "age-restrictive checkout policy" for public libraries over allegedly obscene books "The new policy debate comes as the county and city of Murfreesboro have been embroiled in controversy and legal wrangling over what constitutes community decency," the report states. "The proposed resolution, which was discussed at the county commission's Nov. 6 Steering Committee meeting, seeks to ban county libraries from using county funds—which make up about 60% of the library system’s budget—to purchase any materials, display any materials or host any events that “may be judged as obscene or patently offensive in accordance with the social morals of the community.”
In a chilling post, Must Read Alaska reports that Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor has issued "a directive to public librarians across the state regarding the pornographic and arguably obscene content being increasingly pushed on to minors in libraries," suggesting that librarians could face charges for providing such materials. "In a detailed letter, Taylor outlined the legal implications of providing such material to minors, highlighting three key areas: state criminal laws, municipal ordinances, and state and federal education laws.... He highlighted the importance of protecting minors and reminded public employees of the protections offered under Alaska’s Whistleblower Act for reporting violations."
At Book Riot, Kelly Jensen leads her weekly censorship roundup with a look at sanctuary libraries. "While book sanctuaries will not stop book bans—only policy changes, adherence to current policy, and legislation will do that on any significant scale at this point—they are a reminder of how vital access to information and to stories is for so many" she observes.
From local station News on 6 in Oklahoma, news that a Tulsa-based chapter of Moms for Liberty is going after Scholastic Book Fairs following the company's recent decision to reverse course on segregating diverse books. "It has become undeniable that a regularly occurring conduit for inappropriate books into schools across Oklahoma is through Scholastic, particularly through their book fairs," reads a statement from the national right wing group. "Scholastic, a once trusted company that happens to be one of the top publishers of children's books, now appears largely focused on indoctrinating youth with radical viewpoints and sexual ideologies from a very young age at an increasingly rapid rate."
The Kansas Reflector reports on a tough choice made by a local librarian in St. Marys, Kansas: removing "youth-oriented LGBTQ books from library shelves" so the library could keep its lease. "Library director Judith Cremer said the decision was the result of her efforts to work with the city commission, which has been threatening the library’s lease for more than a year," the report notes.
In Massachusetts, the Telegram & Gazette reports on the high cost of library e-books as a new piece of library e-book legislation is considered in the state legislature. "We’re trying to use your tax dollars in the most efficient way that we can and we can’t when we need to pay significantly more than the average person,” Jason Homer, director of the Worcester Public Library and a member of the Massachusetts Library Association’s legislative committee, told reporters. "As a recent example, Homer refers to Britney Spears' autobiography, The Woman in Me, which hit shelves late last month. Publishers charge libraries between $60 and $70 for a single digital copy of the book, said Homer, compared to the $16 to $20 for the print version. In addition to the inflated price, a library’s purchase is temporary due to a license model, which means they can only lend out digital content for a certain amount of time or a specific number of checkouts before having to pay the same amount again."
And finally this week, an eye-opening report from the Pew Research Center outlines a challenge facing everyone in the information world: the number of users getting their news from such social media sites as TikTok is surging. "Among adults, those ages 18 to 29 are most likely to say they regularly get news on TikTok. About a third of Americans in this age group (32%) say they regularly get news there," a release notes. "More of TikTok’s U.S. adult users are getting news there as well. Currently, 43% of TikTok users say they regularly get news on the site, up from 33% who said the same in 2022."