An Open Letter from a Life-Long Republican to the Louisiana State Legislature

We stand with Mr. Boudreau in opposing these bills and encourage our readers to consider the ramifications of these legislative efforts on our communities and the critical institutions that serve them.

We asked to share an “open letter” from Raymond Boudreau, a devoted library supporter and Jefferson Parish, Louisiana resident, to the state legislators.

 In his letter, Mr. Boudreau voices his concern over a series of proposed bills that pose significant threats to the integrity and functioning of public libraries in Louisiana.

Mr. Boudreau eloquently argues against each measure, highlighting their potential to criminalize library and school employees, undermine professional standards, and jeopardize the autonomy of library boards.

His insights not only shed light on the specific challenges facing libraries in Louisiana but also underscore the broader implications such legislation could have on the value and future of libraries everywhere.


Send an email to your Representatives to show your support for libraries!

Dear Louisiana State Legislators,

As a long-time Republican who has lived in Jefferson Parish for most of my life. I am writing concerning several pieces of legislation introduced this session regarding the state's public libraries. These are:

  • HB 168 which would allow library boards of control to hire non-MLIS candidates as head librarians;
  • HB 414 which would remove the exemption of librarians and library workers from the public obscenity law;
  • HB 545 which would remove the exemption of school librarians and teachers from the public obscenity law;
  • HB 640 which would allow governing authorities to remove library control board members without cause; and
  • HB 777 which would make it a felony to expend funds for librarian training or professional development with the American Library Association.

I am opposed to each of these measures.

The first would put a non-professional in charge of a library system staffed by professionals working in their professional capacity. It's akin to making a non-lawyer District Attorney or Attorney General.

The next two are efforts to intimidate school and library employees who are not in a position to either a) make decisions about what is or isn't on their shelves or b) decide what content in their libraries might be determined to be "obscene." It would make public employees criminally liable for felonies for which they are neither responsible nor in a position to determine if they are even being committed.

The fourth is an effort to insinuate state control over the local governments in one special case - libraries - by allowing library board members to removed at will. By state legislative fiat, library control boards would effectively cease to exist, their policy functions transferred to the parish councils.

The fifth bill would criminalize expending funds for training and professional development by the ALA, presumably because of the ALA's liberal stances and actions. This makes as much sense as making professional development through the American Medical Association or American Bar Association felonies. Those latter two organizations espouse and support many "progressive" causes I don't agree with, but criminalizing professional development expenses for state doctors and lawyers would be absurd.

I am not a librarian, but I can't imagine working in an environment where the threat of commitment to the state penal system hangs over my head every day and having to pay for my own professional development - all while serving under supervisors who have little to no expertise in what they do. Finding someone willing to do that, as HB 168 demonstrates, will not be easy.

It seems obvious to me that this is yet another opportunity for our state to choose the path of decline. As our libraries deteriorate - and they will - young families will be presented with yet another reason to leave or never come to Louisiana in the first place. Our reputation as a great place to visit but a poor place to live will be once again affirmed. Of course, one group that won't be visiting will be the ALA, whose conventions regularly bring a large amount of tourism dollars to the New Orleans area.

As a resident of Louisiana House District 94 and a patron of the Jefferson Parish Library System, I cannot support these bills which would only serve to make life in our parish poorer by destroying our libraries.


Raymond Boudreau