Library board lets stand decision prohibiting book displays that single out segments of population | News

Weeks after the library director told branch managers days before Pride Month not to erect displays singling out any portion of the population, Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control members have let that decision stand.

The library board met Wednesday with about 70 people in attendance, some seeking clarification on which segments of the population are targeted with Library Director Danny Gillane’s decision. Others were there to support the decision; others to condemn it.

Gillane has said he made the decision so as not to draw attention to books that might be targeted by those seeking to have them removed from the library system. Two books, including “This Book is Gay,” were targeted by the director of a conservative group for removal, but the move failed.

“The books are still on the shelf and my goal is to keep them on the shelf regardless of what anyone would like me to do,” Gillane said Wednesday.

Asked by board member James Thomas if he provided branch managers with a list of display topics no longer allowed, Gillane said he has not.

“I have not picked and chosen groups we are not going to display,” he said. “I just said we’re not going to display any group.”

Gillane’s decision, Board President Robert Judge said, is in line with library policy for displays. But Judge appears to have violated the library board’s bylaws by denying Thomas’ request to place on Wednesday’s agenda a discussion about the book displays. A few residents called Judge out on it.

Judge is quick to call out residents at meetings for not obeying the rules, even having an LGBTQ advocate arrested recently for speaking out of turn, Lynette Mejia said, but Judge himself doesn’t follow the rules.

“This is not a dictatorship, Mr. Judge. It’s a public meeting,” she said. “Please conduct it as such.”







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Lafayette resident Corey Grimley addresses the Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at the main library downtown.




Lafayette resident Corey Grimley supported Gillane’s decision, saying the library should not be used for advocacy displays or partisan political views.

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“This is absolutely an LGBTQ issue,” Cora Chance, a library manager, said.

Last year, she said, the powers that be tried to make librarians remove Pride displays but too many people knew about it.







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Book displays about specific segments of the community like this one for Pride Month in June 2021 are no longer allowed in Lafayette Parish public libraries in Lafayette, Louisiana.




If board members individually want to tell LGBTQ residents they’re different or need to be hidden away, “that discrimination rests squarely on your shoulders,” Chance said. But they will not, acting as board members, place that on her, she said.

“If you as a board member attempt to institutionalize that disdain and discrimination in a government entity like a library,” Chance said, “then it carries the weight and voice of every citizen in the parish.”

Speaker Linde Dean said those who oppose Pride displays are not judging anyone or disccriminating against anyone.

“We just don’t want displays that go against a large part of the population’s religion,” she said.

Dean said she voted against a property tax renewal in 2018 that helped fund the library because it allowed Drag Queen Story Time.

“There’s no place for that in the library,” she said.

Voters failed to renew that tax, costing the library system about $3 million in annual recurring income.

Prior to Wednesday’s meeting, Ravis Martinez, president of the NAACP Lafayette chapter, held a protest and press conference in front of the library, speaking against the book display policy.

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