Fewer Librarians on Lafayette Library Book Ban Committee, NE Library Plans Continue | News

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The Lafayette Parish Public Library book ban hearing process will involve fewer librarians and more appointed council members.

The board also agreed to request land proposals and build a new library in northeast Lafayette.

These decisions were made during a chaotic meeting on Monday in which an LGBTQ+ activist was arrested for interrupting the meeting where many people scoffed and interrupted the discussion.






Lafayette Parish Library Board Member Stephanie Armbruster listens as Board Chairman Robert Judge reads a copy of ‘This Book is Gay’ during a meeting at the main branch of the Lafayette Parish Library on Monday, November 15, 2021 in Lafayette, Louisiana.




Library board chairman Robert Judge, appointed a year ago and elected chairman in October, wanted to completely remove librarians from the process used to review patron requests to ban books and other materials from the system. of library.

The policy previously referred complaints to a three-person committee consisting of two librarians appointed by the library director and a board member appointed by the president. The committee has voted twice in recent months against banning the books questioned by Michael Lunsford, a St. Martin Parish resident who works in Lafayette as executive director of Citizens for a New Louisiana, a conservative and anti-political group. -fiscal that Lunsford calls a local government watchdog.

Lunsford appealed the first refusal to the full council, which also refused to ban the book. Judge and board member Stephanie Armbruster voted to ban “This book is gay.”

Lunsford objected to another book, “The V Word”. Armbruster was on the committee reviewing this request. She said on Monday she felt the librarians had decided not to ban the book before the meeting had even started. Lunsford did not appeal this refusal.

The council decided on Monday to change the composition of the committee to two council members appointed by the president and a librarian appointed by the director of the library.







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Lafayette Parish Library Board Chairman Robert Judge, right, addresses the board Monday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Lafayette, La.




The judge said it is the duty of the council, since it is appointed by the elected members of the parish council, to determine and enforce community standards, not the librarians, whom he called public servants.

The judge will also appoint a committee to review the revision of the library system’s mission statement. Twice since his appointment to the board in March, Judge has tried unsuccessfully to change the mission statement so that the library no longer offers recreational and cultural enrichment services and activities. He said it would save money and that these services are offered elsewhere, such as the Lafayette Science Museum and the Heymann Performing Arts Center.

Both of these entities charge entry fees. Most library services and activities are free.

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David Faulk, Nadiyah Bonnette, 7, and Khadijah Rashad hold signs while demonstrating in favor of building a new library on the north side of Lafayette Monday, Feb. 21, 2022, outside the main branch of the Lafayette Public Library in Lafayette, Louisiana.




The long-sought-after Northeast Regional Library took a step forward on Monday when the library board voted to request proposals for land on which to construct a new building. A committee that included residents and board members recently voted 8 to 3 to go ahead with a request for proposals only for land and a new building, not space to lease.

Committee chair and vice-chair of the library board, Landon Boudreaux, however, asked the full board to issue a request for proposals for space rental, despite the committee’s decision. The council rejected his proposal, with only Boudreaux, Judge and Armbruster supporting it.

Former Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux in 2019 secured $8 million to build the library. The delay was the lack of money to staff and operate the new branch.

The library system under new library manager Danny Gillane has made cuts, including recently closing all libraries on Sundays to further cut costs in a bid to eliminate a budget shortfall and to be able to staff the proposed Northeast Regional Library.

About 50 people attended the meeting and they were vocal, mocking the board members and interrupting them when they disagreed with the statements, such as when the judge said he would take 5-7 years to build a new library and said it was a leap to think that renovating the space as a temporary northeast branch would end the chances of building a new library.

LGBTQ+ activist Matthew Humphrey was arrested at the meeting. One of many who interrupted the meeting, Humphrey was instructed by a deputy from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office to let the judge speak, Humphrey replied, “No”, then said, “Take all the time you need,” at which point the deputy ordered Humphrey out of the meeting.







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Matthew Humphrey, an LGBTQ+ advocate, was arrested during a meeting of the Lafayette Pairsh Library Board of Trustees on Monday Feb. 21, 2022. Sgt. Sam Johnson, left, of the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office and a deputy are making the arrest.




Humphrey repeatedly refused, saying he had the right to speak at a public meeting and tensing his wrists for the deputy to stop him. The deputy, the judge, the director of the library Danny Gillane and the attorney Michael Hebert retired to another room to discuss the matter.

The meeting resumed until the judge ordered a recess and met outside the meeting room with the deputy and his supervisor, Sgt. Sam Johnson. When Lunsford got up to read a book he considered too sexually explicit to be on the library shelves, Humphrey said, “Yay.”

The deputy told him to get up, handcuffed him, and escorted him out of the meeting. Humphrey was charged with misdemeanor disturbing the peace and released.

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