EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — State Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville, is stepping up to support professional librarians and beneficial library programming as the board of the Mississippi Valley Library District (MVLD) meets Monday night.
“It’s important that those who represent people and families in our community speak on their behalf when it comes to important issues, and access to libraries is a very important issue,” Stuart said. “Our library needs to be accessible to everyone in our community, and the materials available there should be chosen by professional librarians, not politicians. I’m urging the board to work with their professional staff to put the community’s needs ahead of politics.”
In a Nov. 19 email to the MVLD library board, Stuart pointed out the need for maintenance and repairs to library facilities to comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and worried that rejecting the recommendations of the library’s director could jeopardize the library’s ability to remain safe and accessible for all citizens. Of particular concern is an elevator which is in need of repair.
Stuart also expressed concern about certain materials being removed from the library by board members without the consultation of the professional staff. Central to this concern was the unilateral removal of materials bearing the slogan of a library initiative called ‘Libraries Transform.’ While these materials were intended solely to promote the importance of libraries, they were recently removed, apparently for political reasons.
There has also been discussion of removing or limited access to certain books. Stuart says the board should defer to professional librarians instead of bowing to pressure from extreme groups that push an ideological agenda. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, libraries where any books are banned or removed for ideological or doctrinal reasons will be ineligible for state grants.
“Libraries should be run by professional librarians,” Stuart said. “I hope that the members of the MVLD board will take a step back and really consider all the good MVLD does for the community and ask themselves whether restricting the community’s access to a wealth of information and programming is really the best course of action.”