Thursday, March 27, 2014

Response re Orland Park Public Library Request for Review - PAC 27987 - Open Meetings Act

GmailDan Kleinman

Response re Orland Park Public Library Request for Review - PAC 27987

Safe Libraries Wed, Mar 26, 2014 at 2:04 AM

Cc:,,,, "Mary K. Weimar" ,,,,,,,,,,,

Dear Ms. Pratt and Tola Sobitan,

I have received the letter from Tola Sobitan dated 19 March 2014 captioned “FOIA Request for Review — 2013 PAC 27987.”  It invites me to comment on the Orland Park Public Library responses. I note the letter I received did not contain the stated attachment.  Therefore, please excuse me if I make any errors as a result, but I’ll make comments regarding a letter dated 14 March 2014 I received a day or so ago from your office written by Dennis G. Walsh of Klein, Thorpe and Jenkins, LTD [KTJ] captioned, “FOIA Request for Review — 2014 PAC 27987,” and also a letter dated 3 March 2014 written by the same person of KTJ captioned, “OMA Request for Review 2014 PAC 27771; OMA Request for Review 2014 PAC 27713.” 

A violation of the Open Meetings Act is a very serious matter.  Indeed March 16-20 is Sunshine Week ( ) where “open government is good government.”  Sadly, as one source explains, “There’s no downside for public officials to violat[e] the Open Meeting Law.”  “Sunshine Week: Most Public Boards Aren't Fined for Open Meeting Law Violations” ( )  

In the current matter under review, as I explained in my original Request for Review ( ), the library refused to allow me to speak at a regularly scheduled meeting, actively removed my name from a speakers list on that day, wrote a library policy that specifically excluded me from participating in future meetings, quickly rushed together another meeting without adequate notice to the public to pass the policy to block me and to allow porn on public library computers despite that being against state and local law and even the library’s own policy, set the meeting for a legal holiday, and refused to allow the public to speak.  To this day the library and its attorney continues on as if such behavior has no consequences.  

The library is essentially getting away with illegality that enabled it to pass an illegal policy (Internet porn in Illinois libraries is precluded by Illinois library law, etc., let alone common sense and community standards).  It did this on a legal holiday without public comment precisely because it knew the community is in large measure opposed to the illegality and the harm it had already wrought in the community, including sexually harassed library workers who were and are told they can quit if they don’t like the porn, unreported sex crimes including child pornography, people who refuse to use that library while porn runs rampant, etc.  The library has shown no interest in complying with the law in the future either. 

It is you and only you, the Attorney General of Illinois, who is in a position to put an end to this, to stop the illegality, to restore open government, to restore good government to Orland Park, Il.  Only you can do this.  To that end, you began an investigation.  You specifically asked the library to respond.  They is only fair, after all, and it’s the law.  The library did respond.  It responded with a number of responses from Dennis Walsh, Esq., who is a member of the KTJ law firm hired by the library.

Let’s look first at the first KTJ response dated 3 March 2014.

Given the seriousness of the matter including the total violation of the public trust, and given you are investigating this matter as required by law, you received a response from the library dated 3 March 2014 that is entirely without substance.  Instead, the response was a continuation of the library’s and the law firm’s efforts to besmirch Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan for bringing sunshine to the matter of unreported crimes including child pornography in a library that is violating the law and allowing porn despite the law.  To cover this over, the library is besmirching Fox and DuJan (for example on its home page or by making false claims with the police ) and attempting to pass a policy that would specifically allow Internet pornography, and doing so in an illegal fashion that violates the Open Meetings Act.  The library’s response to you is an attempt to carry on with that very goal as it makes only ad hominem argument and completely ignores the substantive issues in an apparent attempt to obfuscate its illegal actions.

Now look at the specific lawyer who wrote that library response.  Look at his law firm.  It is Dennis Walsh.  The firm is KTJ.  Why is this relevant?  It is relevant because Dennis Walsh literally wrote the book on sunshine laws.  The book is actively sold by the Illinois Municipal League for $12 ( ). 

KTJ holds itself out as experts in library law.  It claims to have over 50 library-related clients ( ), but it also make this claim at least five years ago ( ).  So it likely KTJ has many, many more library clients.

KTJ points out that it wrote library legislation ( ).  KTJ trains library trustees ( ).  KJT holds “Ask the Library Lawyer” meetings ( ).  KTJ teaches at the Illinois Library Association a class called, “FOIA, Open Meetings and Mock Library Board Meeting” ( ).  KTF presented, “An Overview of State and Federal Laws Affecting Libraries: What Library Directors and Trustees Need to Know” at the Illinois Library Association ( ).  I could go on with many more examples where KTJ details its depth of knowledge and expertise in library law and associated municipal law, and instances where KTJ is held out by other organizations as experts in library law and municipal law.

KTJ even publishes on it web site the text of and commentary on Illinois library law ( ), the Freedom of Information Act ( ), and the Open Meetings Act [OMA] ( ).

Regarding the OMA, KTJ specifically says, “library board meetings must be conducted in accordance with the Open Meetings Act.” ( )

So Dennis Walsh and KTJ literally hold themselves out as library law experts who literally wrote the book on sunshine laws that the Illinois Municipal League has for sale, and they represent maybe a hundred or more library clients across the state.  They even admit on their own web site that OMA must be followed.

The point is, there is no way Dennis Walsh and KTJ are not intimately aware of matters relating to sunshine laws and municipal compliance therewith.  There is no way the library’s 3 March 2014 response written by Dennis Walsh and KTJ was not specifically drafted to attempt to obfuscate the illegality and turn the focus to Fox and DuJan and make them the issue.  The library’s non substantive response from such a leading law firm that actually wrote the book on sunshine laws and represents a hundred or so library clients displays a complete and total disregard for the law and disrespect for the process of undergoing OMA investigations.  Worse, it evidences that the library intends to continue to carry on with the illegality.  Worse still, it evidences the library’s law firm will continue to support the library in carrying on with the illegality in its failures to follow library law and sunshine laws, including those currently under investigation.  Worse, the law firm has many, many clients it will advise similarly if it gets away with illegality here.  It is in a position to update its manual sold by the Illinois Municipal League and train at the Illinois Library Association that libraries may effectively pass unpopular and illegal policy by quietly holding meetings during state holidays to which few receive notice and those who do speak up may be immediately silenced, as was done to Megan Fox when she spoke up at the Lincoln’s Birthday holiday meeting that I believe she only learned about that very day from the Chicago Tribune ( ).  Notice no other media source reveals the meeting.  Further, for regularly scheduled meetings there is plenty of press coverage that is in the spirit of the OMA.  A single newspaper on the same day announcing a meeting on a legal holiday during which the IL Attorney General’s office is closed precluding emergent relief is definitely not in the spirit of the OMA.  Not open government.  Not good government.

That’s right, the Lincoln’s Birthday library board meeting was effectively announced to the public the same day it occurred.  Megan Fox has for months been tracking every move the library makes as it suffers no consequences for not reporting child pornography and other crimes that happened as a direct result of unfiltered Internet access that violates Illinois law and library policy, until the library attempted to use the Lincoln’s Birthday meeting to explicitly allow porn despite the law.  No way would Megan Fox have missed this meeting announcement had it been made in a timely fashion.  Further, although she found out the same day, she still attended, and they cut her off when she finally spoke up at the end of the meeting apparently when it was obvious they were not allowing the public to speak.  She tried to speak and they cut her off, shouted her down. You can see this in the video I believe she linked.

And it is my belief there is credible inside information that the pro porn library board members colluded to have the meeting on Lincoln’s Birthday with the express purpose of cutting off Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan’s right under the Open Meetings Act and rushing through the illegal porn policy.  In the video you can even see other board members saying it’s wrong to hold a meeting on a holiday, especially with the regular meeting only a few days away, but they were effectively overruled by the pro porn trustees and, notably, by the library’s attorney.

Given the non substantive nature of the library’s response, we must look elsewhere for what the library and its attorneys might do if the Attorney General does not put a stop to this.  Fortunately, the Chicago Tribune sheds light on this.  It makes it apparent the library, supported by its law firm, will continue on with the illegality unabated: “Trustees Say No — Again — to Filtering Library Computers,” by Dennis Sullivan, Chicago Tribune, 18 March 2014 ( )  

Notice the effect of the illegality and lawlessness already apparent.  For example, the reporter reports that Beth Gierach is a library trustee even though she was “appointed” during the illegal meeting then “re-appointed” at the next meeting.  Her “re-appointment” was “ratified and confirmed,” but something illegal cannot be “ratified and confirmed”; it was illegal in the first place or void ab initio ( ). Yet the media reports it as a fait accompli.  The significance being the “ratification” vote was 3-2, and since Beth Gierach is not yet a library trustee under the law, only by illegal fiat, then the media should at least have reported the “vote” as 2-2, a tie.  And even though the “vote” itself is fatally flawed, at least the media could have presented the public with a somewhat more accurate picture.

From the same story we see, “Walsh, responding in a letter dated Monday, contends the meeting was legal. He had written to Assistant Attorney General Tola Sobitan, arguing these points, there was no problem with the day because Feb. 12 is not a legal holiday, the board gave legal notice prior to the meeting and, the board did deny public comment, but there is no requirement that public comment be allowed during a special meeting.”  So the man who wrote the book on sunshine laws and likely represents a hundred library clients said a legal holiday is not a legal holiday.  Lincoln’s Birthday, no less.  In Illinois, no less.  For someone with his knowledge and experience, he is simply lying.  And the library knows full well Lincoln’s birthday is a legal holiday as that is the very reason the meeting was planned then, the purpose being to suppress public comment, and that is exactly what they did, and even Dennis Walsh admits that.  

And his saying the board gave legal notice is conclusory.  I am certain the Attorney General is investigating this and will conclude otherwise.  Please consider what I said about about the Chicago Tribune being the only paper to announce the meeting, and even then only on the same data as the meeting, on Lincoln’s Birthday.  Contrast that with other meetings where there is complete and legal coverage as intended by the OMA.

As for his claim public comment may be precluded at special meetings, it appears that only applies to closed meetings.  That someone who wrote the book on sunshine laws, teaches an the Illinois Library Association, and advises a hundred clients on sunshine laws could claim cutting off free speech is acceptable is truly unbelievable.  

I am concerned by the article I quoted at the top and by the library’s obfuscation and ad hominem argument that justice will not be done.  Given the experiences of the law firm including its having written the book on sunshine laws that’s sold by the Illinois Municipal League, it is apparent to me there has been a deliberate effort to skirt the law.  The article concerns me because it details that most OMA remedies are merely slaps on the wrist.  And if the library gets a slap on the wrist, the library’s attorney will be free to recommend denying public comment to its many other library-related clients, and worst of all, Orland Park will be left with a library policy that allows computer porn despite the law that precludes porn in libraries and despite the law that defines open meetings.

Turning now to the second KTJ response dated 14 March 2014, the library finally addresses substantive issues.  The points made are truly unbelievable.  Who would believe an Illinois attorney would argue an Illinois state holiday is not a holiday.  Here’s the kicker, the lawyer knowingly and intentionally made false statements designed to mislead the Attorney General specifically and all of Illinois generally.  The smoking gun?  The lawyer’s own book.  That’s right, the lawyer’s own book contradicts what he is saying to the Attorney General to justify why a library may meet without notice on Lincoln’s Birthday to pass a policy that allows illegal porn in the library.  Walsh argues to the Attorney General, “Had the legislature intended to have certain prescribed legal holidays or the holidays found in the Bank Holiday Act apply also to the Open Meetings Act, it could and would have done so as it has in other statutes. ….  Suggesting now that the Orland Park Board of Library Trustees violated the Open Meetings Act when it conducted business on February 12, 2014 is without any statutory support in the Act and ignores the fundamental principles of statutory construction.”  But Walsh writes in his book, and in violation of attorney ethics rules, does not disclose to the Attorney General, “the Bank Holiday Act (205 ILCS 630/17(a)) does set out a list of ‘legal holidays.’ A special meeting on such a legal holiday would not be convenient to the public.”  See more at “Dennis Walsh (Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins) – Contradicts His Own Book…” ( )

And recall Walsh of KTJ now argues, per the 14 March 2014 letter and per the Chicago Tribune, that there is no requirement to allow public comment during a special meeting.  Again, his own book contradicts him.  It reads, “A special meeting on such a legal holiday would not be convenient to the public.”  If there is no requirement to allow public comment at a special meeting, why does his book say a special meeting on a legal holiday would not be convenient to the public?

I also object to the statement that “Ms. Fox and others had already repeatedly and consistently ‘addressed’ those issues (among others)….”  The reason I object is that is a factually false assertion.  “[A]llowing public participation at all of its regular meeting without fail”?  False.  My first Request for Review that was consolidated into the one under review now stated that I was denied the ability to speak, that I was removed from a speakers list, and that the Lincoln’s Birthday meeting approved a policy specifically designed to silence me.  No one heard what I had to say and the author of the Children’s Internet Protection Act called me a “trusted source” on the misinformation libraries use to promote porn despite the law ( ).  I was going to speak on how the American Library Association misled the community at a previous meeting ( ).  The library board violated its own speaker rules to allow the ALA to speak, but it blocked me and passed a policy to block me permanently.  One way ALA misled the community is by saying I was wrong when the Chicago Tribune quoted me as saying no library had ever been sued for blocking porn.  That is true, but ALA said the Camdenton case was about blocking porn.  Actually, no, it was not.  It was about blocking LGBT content, not porn.  The ALA literally made up the false claim about Camdenton even though in the past the very same person said the exact opposite. ( )  Even the library itself produced a document it had from ALA that said Camdenton was about blocking LGBT content.  Remarkably, asserting known false claims is the same technique KTJ/Walsh used to say one thing now when they said something different in the past.  Apparently, the technique of changing things on the fly to fool people is a useful and popular one.  The means justifies the ends.  I am hoping the Attorney General sees this for what it is.  Had I had a chance to speak at the meeting, I could have provided accurate information.  And I would have spoken on other issues not previous raised.  So no, the issues had not been “already repeatedly and consistently ‘addressed.’”

Taken alone, the library’s arguments have been effectively refuted by me or others.  But taken together, the library’s comments lead to the inescapable conclusion that the library knowingly and intentionally violated the law and violated the public trust.  It told the public over the months it would wait to vote on the filtering issue until the board was fully constituted.  It then colluded to, without adequate notice, hold an illegal meeting on a legal holiday where it reconstituted the board, then, without discussion as promised, voted to allow porn in violation of the law, and it did so by cutting off public comment to the point of shouting down Megan Fox when she finally attempted to speak.

And this is a library that supposedly holds free speech and equal access paramount, so much so that it allows illegal porn and does not report child pornography, claiming a First Amendment right to “constitutionally protected materials.”  The library is so zealous to promote porn that is does not reveal that the US Supreme Court ruled while porn may be “constitutionally protected material” outside a public library, libraries have always blocked porn so using Internet filters to do so did not violate First Amendment rights ( ).

In summary, the actions of the library go directly against the OMA law and were designed to stifle free speech and public debate and even public knowledge of actions taken to allow illegal porn.  Open government is good government.  All evidence shows the library intentionally hid its most significant decisions from the public.  Closed government is bad government.  The help of the Attorney General is needed to restore open government as the library has not evidenced any willingness to comply with the OMA nor to correct its past illegal actions.

I respectfully request the Attorney General void the February 12 meeting from the start and necessarily void every action taken at that meeting and all subsequent meetings that “ratified and confirmed” that which was void ab initio.  Actions void ab initio cannot be “ratified and confirmed” or otherwise foisted on the public.  Respectfully speaking, the whole matter needs to start from scratch, I must be allowed to speak, the issue of the unreported child pornography and other sex crimes must be discussed in public as that needs to stop, and the library must be held under the full weight of the powers granted to the Attorney General under the OMA as this matter of the library pushing illegal porn on a legal holiday in violation of the law has got to be one of the most egregious violations of the OMA ever, and in a manner that directly threatens the wellbeing of both library patrons and library employees. I can’t imagine what might be more of a violation.  And it’s a series of violations of different meeting dates, no less.  It is clear to me the violations will continue.

The icing on the cake is the library’s attorney intentionally misleading the Attorney General by, among other things, saying Lincoln’s Birthday is not a legal holiday when his own book he wrote on the law that the Illinois Municipal League sells says essentially the exact opposite.  If ever there was a time to refer an attorney for disciplinary action for any number of reasons, this would be it, especially since this KTJ law firm has many library clients and repeatedly teaches sunshine laws to librarians at the Illinois Library Association.  The harm this law firm may be doing positioned as it is as attorneys for maybe a hundred or more library clients and as trainers for the Illinois Library Association makes me shudder.  The only thing worse is the American Library Association teaching all new library trustees nationwide the opposite of the law so they think libraries must allow Internet porn ( ), but the Attorney General can do nothing about this.  At least KTJ’s teaching the opposite of the law is confined to Illinois.

Dan Kleinman, Library Watchdog
About Me:

On Twitter:  @HillBuzz @ILAttyGeneral @IntolerantFox @OIF @OrlandPkLibrary @VillageOrlandPk

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

FLA Flips ALA the Bird on Florida's Stand Your Ground Law

Northern Mockingbird
Mimus Polyglottus
Florida State Bird
The Florida Library Association [FLA] has flipped the American Library Association [ALA] the bird, and in Florida, that means the mockingbird.  FLA mocks ALA for taking political positions that have nothing to do with librarianship.  And ALA is already mounting a response to attempt to force FLA to act as ALA wishes, similar to what ALA does in local communities, only this time it applies to a state library association.

ALA's ruling "ALA Council" (one that, for example, bullies its conservative Christian members) has recently decided to take on yet another non-library issue, like fried librarian giblets, but in this case, it's Florida's Stand Your Ground law.  This started after ALA's "Black Caucus of the American Library Association, Inc." [BCALA] published the following:
  • "Black Caucus of ALA Denounces ALA's Decision to Hold 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla," by BCALA, American Library Association, 17 March 2014:
    The Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA), condemns the American Library Association's (ALA) decision to continue with plans to hold the ALA 2016 annual conference in Orlando, Fla. in the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict and that state's refusal to revise or repeal "Stand Your Ground" laws, which were included in jury instructions in Zimmerman's trial for second degree murder for fatally shooting unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. in 2012.
ALA is scheduled to have an annual convention in Orlando, FL, in 2016.  As a result, ALA Council is now discussing whether to move the convention out of Florida or to use the event to oppose Florida's gun laws and guns generally.

ALA is frequently mocked for allowing a few people to drive the entire organization to support progressive causes having nothing to do with librarianship.  The latest example is the Annoyed Librarian writing for the Library Journal in "An Idea For a Resolution":
I have a suggestion for the Socially Responsible Round Table.  The next time you want to push a meaningless resolution about something unrelated to the libraries, why not instead push a meaningless resolution in support of the third of Americans that have no library access at all.  That actually has something to do with libraries and it's a worthy cause.  It's just not very sexy.
Well ALA decided to pressure FLA to provide input on whether to move the conference out of Florida or to suggest how FLA proposes going about using the conference to pressure Floridians and conference visitors on their own gun laws.

FLA was having none of that.  It responded ever so politely by telling ALA that FLA addresses issues facing Florida libraries and librarians.  See the FLA letter to the ALA or read it below.  And FLA's Alan Kornblau wrote, "As a member of the FLA Executive Board and Florida Chapter Councilor, I support FLA's position and encourage lovers of libraries to attend our state conference at the beautiful Buena Vista Palace in Lake Buena Vista, Florida from May 7 – 9, 2014, as well as the 2016 ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida."

Given ALA was subtly pressuring FLA to take a position on a non-librarian and progressive political issue of gun control and tossing aside the Second Amendment, FLA's response that clearly defines its mission as one of libraries and librarians is basically mocking ALA for taking on those progressive, non-library political issues.

And since the Florida state bird is the Northern Mockingbird, it appears FLA is flipping ALA the bird and mocking its northern ALA.

Well, ALA is not used to people telling ALA off.  So ALA Councilor Gladys Smiley Bell responded to Alan Kornblau—you see, library workers and users "fear" living in Florida so that makes opposing gun laws and the "struggle for equality and fairness" into "library advocacy" and "an opportunity to promote change":
This is about library advocacy which I support.  This is an opportunity to promote change in states that includes library workers, libraries, library users in light of BCALA and others fight for safety, a safe environment, and other discriminating acts regarding the struggle for equality and fairness.  I don't like living with fear for myself or my teenage grandsons.
And ALA Councilor Al Kagan steamed, "Alan, Thanks for forwarding the Florida Library Association letter.  Unfortunately, it does not address the issue at hand."

So you know ALA received the message loud and clear that FLA was not going to be ALA's political hatchet man and was not going to take on non-library issues.

The night is young and the typical Chicago Way pressure from Chicago's ALA is only just beginning to build.  The conference is in 2016.  We'll have to wait to see if it the conference is moved or not.  I doubt it, but it won't be for a lack of trying.

Read FLA's letter to ALA for yourself to see FLA is sticking to library issues only:

March 18, 2014

Dear Colleagues and Friends at ALA,

On behalf of the Florida Library Association, our Executive Board thanks you for your recent inquiry about our Association's focus.

Our mission statement notes that our association:  "develops programs and undertakes activities to earn it a leadership position for all areas of librarianship.  To do this, the Association works with other professional organizations and professions that are relevant to librarianship; provides increasing opportunities for librarians and support staff in Florida to advance their skills so that they can maintain their effectiveness in the new information age; works closely with the information industry, facilitating productive links with the library community; and continues its role as legislative advocate for excellence in all types of library service within the State of Florida and beyond."

Since we are an organization with finite funds and limited staff we focus all our resources on issues directly supporting libraries and librarians in the state of Florida.   Keeping libraries open and librarians employed so that our libraries can provide the best library services possible to their users is our primary focus.  Our legislative platform focuses on funding libraries of all types.

The Florida Library Association supports the position that libraries are forums for information and ideas and that their resources should be available to all.  We encourage people to exercise their rights as individuals and support free speech.  We have a very active Intellectual Freedom Committee that was so effective it spawned a new member group last year, "Readers Rights and Privacy."  We have adopted supporting positions on "Public Library Funding," "Freedom to Read," ALA's "Library Bill of Rights," "Code of Ethics," and "Ethics Statements for Public Trustees," and have statements on "Privatization" and "Professional Education."

The Florida Library Association is looking forward to the 2016 ALA Conference in Orlando and the opportunity for Florida librarians, friends, and staff to attend.

We also encourage you to attend our FLA Conference this spring, May 7-9 at the Buena Vista Palace in Orlando.

Gladys Roberts, President

The FLA letter may be downloaded here:

By the way, since FLA appropriately sticks to library issues, I hope it addresses these:


As presaged, and this didn't take long, ALA has struck back at FLA.  Only days ago I wrote, "The night is young and the typical Chicago Way pressure from Chicago's ALA is only just beginning to build."  Sure enough, ALA President Barbara Stripling (a very nice lady from what I can see, by the way) is striking back and hard.  In big, Chicago Way style.  She is organizing the full power of ALA to community organize all librarians to punish FLA for insolence and promote progressive causes in libraries nationwide, starting with opposing guns laws.  What does this have to do with librarianship?  Nothing, but the ends justifies the means, no?

She is charging directly at any state library association that would dare do what FLA did, using FLA as the whipping boy.  "ALA's Executive Committee and BCALA's Executive Board decided that the best way to respond to the Florida situation is by turning it into an opportunity to educate, build awareness, and advocate for equitable treatment, inclusion, and respect for diversity.  We have agreed on the following actions: ... Support for conversations and actions at the state level facilitated by state library associations or other organizations within the states."

So, FLA, the full weight of ALA will "support conversation and actions at the state level facilitated by state library associations...."  That means you, FLA.  You will support "conversation" and "action" on the very progressive political cause you politely avoided.  If you do not acquiesce, there will be more and more "conversation" and "action" until you come to heel.

"Most troubling is the growing prevalence of Stand Your Ground laws," writes Barbara Stripling et alia.  So even though you, FLA, said you will not engage in that political activity because you wanted to spend limited resources instead on libraries and librarians, you will soon learn the most cost effective move will be to give in to the ALA instead of constantly fending off the "conversation" and "action" that ALA is gathering to bring to bear in Orlando as a direct result of your giving ALA the bird.  ALA's flipping you back a bigger bird.  No other state library association will dare defy ALA further.

This is how ALA pushes porn in libraries nationwide, like this:

This is how ALA pushes state library associations to come to heel.  Even to the point of teaching them the opposite of the law so they will promote porn in libraries.

And, it's already working!
As the Councilor from Louisiana and one of the councilors who originally suggested state-level action, I will be bringing this statement with me tomorrow to the Executive Board Meeting at the Annual Conference of the Louisiana Library Association, where I will recommend that we have our own chapter-based Task Force devoted to issues of diversity within our profession—well in advance of any upcoming ALA conferences in New Orleans. 
I would also like to put my name forward as being interested in working with the your Special Presidential Task Force, Barbara—in whatever way you deem appropriate. 
Stephanie Ganic Braunstein, MA MLIS
Head Government Documents/Microforms Librarian
& Liaison to Political Science
Louisiana State University
Middleton Library
Regional Depository #222

Louisiana State University.  A public university.  What a coincidence.

Does anyone know if this political activity violates ALA's 501(c)(3) tax exempt status?  Are taxpayers supporting an organization that calls itself the American Library Association but that instead works to promote progressive political causes, much like Media Matters for America and the like?  Is there something wrong with libraries and librarians that ALA needs to come out openly as promoting progressive causes, like opposing Stand Your Ground laws, having nothing to do with librarianship?

ALA membership is shrinking.  I have to wonder if this non-library, non-librarian political activism is part of the reason why.  "The goal is to use the Orlando conference platform to provoke a national dialogue."  Oh really?  State library associations like FLA far better serve the needs of librarians, I have heard.  And seeing FLA's willingness to keep its focus on library and librarian issues, I can see why.

Here is the ALA statement of 25 March 2014 that represents ALA reacting strongly to a state library association, in this case FLA, daring to express an interest in sticking to issues affecting libraries and librarians:

CHICAGO —The values of diversity, equity, and inclusion form the foundation of the library profession and our professional associations.  Those values have been challenged by the discriminatory enforcement of the "Stand Your Ground" law in Florida and the fact that ALA's 2016 Annual Conference is scheduled for Orlando.  The Executive Committee members of ALA and the BCALA Executive Board have actively engaged in conversation to determine the best solution to this challenging dilemma.  That conversation has been extended to the Executive Boards of AILA, APALA, CALA, and REFORMA with a decision to issue a joint statement of commitment and action. 
In response to BCALA's concern regarding holding the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, in 2016, the ALA Executive Board thoroughly explored the options for moving the conference.  ALA started by clarifying the facts underlying conference site selection, the implications of trying to move the Orlando conference, and the prevalence of Stand Your Ground laws across the United States.  The contracts for Orlando were negotiated originally in 2000; the Stand Your Ground law in Florida became effective on October 1, 2005.  Cancelling the hotel and convention center contracts would result in a minimum fine of $814,000.  Conferences as large as ALA must be scheduled for specific sites and contracts signed at least 7–10 years in advance.  At this late date, it would be highly unlikely that ALA would be able to find another site with availability during our window of late June/early July 2016. 
Most troubling is the growing prevalence of Stand Your Ground laws. Twenty-two states have laws that allow for that self-defense provision to be asserted (as of August 2013).  An additional 21 states have enacted laws that allow for self-defense within one's home (called Castle Doctrines).  However, each state has implemented and applied the Stand Your Ground laws differently, and it is the interpretation and application of the Stand Your Ground Law in the Zimmerman and Dunn cases, as well as the Marissa Alexander case, that has heightened the urgency for discussion and action. 
With that information in hand, our ALA's Executive Committee and BCALA's Executive Board decided that the best way to respond to the Florida situation is by turning it into an opportunity to educate, build awareness, and advocate for equitable treatment, inclusion, and respect for diversity. We have agreed on the following actions:
  • Town Hall discussions of racial diversity and inclusion in our profession, association, and communities.
    • Major topic of Membership Meeting at 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas.
    • Topic of discussion during Virtual Membership Meeting on June 5, 2014.
  • Support for conversations and actions at the state level facilitated by state library associations or other organizations within the states.
  • Formation of a Special Presidential Task Force involving members of the ethnic affiliates and ALA to (1) develop programs and other opportunities for members to learn about and engage in the issue, (2) build strong advocacy and awareness while at the Orlando conference, and (3) develop communications directed toward the public.  The Task Force will be formed immediately.  The goal is to use the Orlando conference platform to provoke a national dialogue. 
  • Collaboration with local Black and Hispanic/Latino community members and organizations in Orlando to determine the best ways for ALA members to be supportive of them.  This will include compilation of a list of African-American and Hispanic/Latino businesses in Orlando for ALA members to patronize.
  • Outreach to national organizations with vested interest in the Stand Your Ground laws to build alliances and collaborative efforts in advocacy and public awareness (e.g., NAACP, La Raza, Urban League).
Most important to all the ethnic caucuses and ALA is the public and honest conversation that will be generated by our actions.  We are committed to building more diversity and inclusion among our members, the field of librarianship, and our communities.  We invite all members of AILA, APALA, BCALA, CALA, REFORMA, and ALA to engage with us in moving toward a more just society. 
With respect,
Barbara Stripling
(American Library Association) 
Jerome Offord, Jr.
(Black Caucus of the American Library Association) 
Heather Devine
(American Indian Library Association) 
Eugenia Beh
(Asian Pacific American Librarians Association) 
Lisa Zhao
(Chinese American Librarians Association) 
Isabel Espinal
(The National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking)
See that call for "diversity"?  "We are committed to building more diversity"?  What, ALA does not already have diversity?  For example, it doesn't already promote Islam in hundreds or thousands of libraries nationwide?  Of course it does.

By "diversity" ALA means uniformity.  They do not mean diversity.  If they did, they would not work with the racist or supremacist organization "La Raza" (The Race, like there's only one).  If they did, ALA would stop making it a regular practice to support basically all libraries blocking collections from containing materials on exgays, or ALA would stop libraries from discriminating against Christians and written materials having a Christian slant.  If they were really interested in diversity or "inclusion" ALA would not exclude librarians who speak out about sexual harassment that results from unfiltered computers.  Etc.

No it's not diversity ALA wants, it's uniformity.  It's progressive political activity, using the name "American Library Association" as cover.


NBA basketball star Kobe Bryant catches hell for saying its wrong to make knee jerk reactions to jump to one politically correct view on Trayvon Martin:
I won't react to something just because I'm supposed to, because I'm an African-American," he said.  "That argument doesn't make any sense to me.  So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense?  Yet you want to talk about how far we've progressed as a society?  Well, we've progressed as a society, then don't jump to somebody's defense just because they're African-American.  You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won't assert myself."
The American Library Association, now tossing aside pretense of being a library association, is doing just that and making it the centerpiece of ALA' efforts.  Not porn in libraries harming children, not sexually harassed librarians, not the massive fraud in the CIPA E-rate program, but Trayvon Martin, stand your ground laws, "diversity," and other progressive causes having nothing to do with librarianship.

I'll list a few stories here, and I hope the few remaining librarians interested in librarianship and willing to speak up can wrest control from the many progressives driving the ALA:


Today ALA made public an announcement of how it is continuing to community organize its political activity having nothing to do with librarianship.  In the case below, it's mainly opposition to Stand Your Ground laws.

The issues of sexual harassment are roiling the librarian community now, thanks to #TeamHarpy, yet political goals trump that as the more serious, coordinated effort is put into non-library issues like Stand Your Ground instead of sexual harassment of librarians:

[alacoun] update from the ALA Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Garnar, Martin Tue, Oct 14, 2014 at 2:51 PM
To: "ALA Council ("
Dear colleagues, 

ALA’s Task Force for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, co-chaired by Martin Garnar and Trevor A. Dawes, has begun its work to ensure committed and sustained attention to equity, inclusion, and diversity issues within ALA, in the profession, and in our communities.  The Task Force was formed earlier in 2014 when members of the Black Caucus (BCALA) raised serious concerns about the scheduling of ALA’s 2016 Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida, a state where the implementation of Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been critically flawed. 

After some discussion with several concerned members, the ALA and the affiliated Ethnic Caucuses issued a joint statement, available at   In the joint statement, we shared our concern about the reasons there was a call to change the conference location; affirmed our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion; and recognized that moving the conference at that point was not possible.

Task Force members have heard that there is still some concern being expressed about the fact that the American Library Association will hold its 2016 annual conference in Orlando, FL.  We believe that moving forward with the conference in Orlando presents us with opportunities to engage with the communities in Florida in ways clearly not possible if we are not there.   The Task Force will be developing plans for the association not only to address actions at the 2016 conference, but also to plan more generally for how we can be a more inclusive association and profession.

The Task Force members will be reaching out to ALA members and non-members in the coming months to gather information and feedback and we all hope you will share your thoughts.  The first piece where we would appreciate your feedback is to the definitions of equity, diversity, and inclusion that will frame our work.  The definitions are below and have been posted to ALA Connect for public comment (   You are, of course, welcome to contact the task force members ( at any time if you have questions or concerns.

Preface to the definitions:

In framing the definitions of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion for our work as a task force, wanting to change the world by and beyond the Annual 2016 Conference, and realizing we *may* fall short of that  goal, we offer the following definitions  for consideration. We have decided to maintain a fairly global perspective in these definitions, i.e. not to attempt an exhaustive list of descriptors or qualities of disenfranchised groups comprising ALA membership and by extension our various stakeholders and patron populations. We are striving for social justice for *All* - and with these definitions desire to achieve a larger rather than smaller common and inclusive denominator.


Equity is not the same as formal equality. Formal equality implies sameness. Equity, on the other hand, assumes difference and takes difference into account to ensure a fair process and, ultimately, a fair (or equitable) outcome. Equity recognizes that some groups were (and are) disadvantaged in accessing educational and employment opportunities and are, therefore, underrepresented or marginalized in many organizations and institutions. The effects of that exclusion often linger systemically within organizational policies, practices and procedures. Equity, therefore, means increasing diversity by ameliorating conditions of disadvantaged groups. . 

The Task Force believes that everyone deserves equitable rights and opportunities.  Our goal is to create a just and equitable Association, profession, and society where everyone has access to social power, resources, and physical and psychological safety.
(Adapted from ALA Office for Diversity “Strategic Planning for Diversity”: , and National Association of Social Workers:


Diversity can be defined as the sum of the ways that people are both alike and different.  Visible diversity is generally those things we cannot change and are external.  However, diversity goes beyond this to what we call ‘invisible’ diversity.  Invisible diversity includes those attributes that are not readily seen. So, when we recognize, value, and embrace diversity, we are recognizing, valuing, and embracing the uniqueness of each individual. 

The Task Force has chosen to define “diversity” in all its complexity in order to recognize and honor the uniqueness of each ALA member, all members of our profession, and our very diverse communities.  The Task Force also agrees with the National Education Association that, “While diversity itself is not a value-laden term, the way that people react to diversity is driven by values, attitudes, beliefs, and so on.  Full acceptance of diversity is a major principle of social justice.” 
(Adapted from National Education Association):


Inclusion means an environment in which all individuals are treated fairly and respectfully; are valued for their distinctive skills, experiences, and perspectives; have equal access to resources and opportunities; and can contribute fully to the organization’s success.  
(Adapted from Society for Human Resources Management  and Hewlett Packard:

The Task Force believes that, to be inclusive, our association, profession, and society must recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every member of the community; involve and empower all members to participate and contribute; promote and sustain a sense of belonging; and value and practice respect for the talents, beliefs, backgrounds, and ways of living of all members.

Again, we welcome your comments on the definitions and any questions you may have for the task force.


Martin Garnar and Trevor A. Dawes

Martin Garnar
Reference Services Librarian and Professor of Library Science
Dayton Memorial Library, Regis University --
3333 Regis Blvd., Mail Stop D-20
Denver, CO 80221

On Twitter:  @ALALibrary @BCALA_Inc @FLGovScott @LibraryJournal @TweetFLAlibrary #libchat #2A #syg #StandYourGround