by The HLA Board
In recent months, library professionals across the nation – including the Hawaiʻi Library Association (HLA) Executive Board – have observed efforts to weaken the American Library Association (ALA) and the principles on which it stands by lobbying library organizations to withdraw their membership. In July 2023, the Montana State Library Commission withdrew its membership from ALA. Similar efforts exist in Illinois, Idaho, and other states. Much of the ire that is currently aimed at ALA is in reaction to the organization’s steadfast support for intellectual freedom, diversity and inclusion, and LGBTQ+ rights, which stand in direct opposition to coordinated censorship and book banning attempts.
Locally, Hawaiʻi’s librarians are seeing a concerning increase in book challenges in both school and public libraries. In anticipation of escalation, the theme of HLA’s Spring Meeting was ʻAʻali‘i, inspired by the ʻaʻali‘i tree, which resists the most adverse environmental conditions to remain standing. In ideal conditions, the ʻAʻaliʻi tree can grow tall and shelter other plants and life forms, fostering the rebirth and diverse ecology of Hawaiʻi’s land. At this meeting, Jon Martin and Joyce McIntosh of ALA, as well as Hawaiʻi House Representative Jenna Takenouchi and US Congresswoman Jill Tokuda, discussed organized efforts to challenge the freedom to read. These efforts include actions to control school boards and ban books – all rooted from a place of fear.
Headlines about the harassment of library workers and book banning efforts across the nation continue to increase. Just as ALA is supporting library workers, authors, and publishers as book challenges grow in number and contentiousness, it is important for us to stand in solidarity with ALA and the Library Bill of Rights in which we believe. HLA has been affiliated with ALA for over 100 years and, as we move forward, the HLA Executive Board shares with all of you our resolve to stand with ALA – and its leaders – in support of intellectual freedom. This effort manifests in our individual actions and in our organizational activities. Please review the attachment from ALA to understand the full scope of the support that ALA provides to those in our field and to our state’s libraries.
We deeply feel that our association – and, more widely, librarianship in Hawaiʻi – would be much less effective without the support of the American Library Association. Hence, let us gather and be as one, neʻepapa, as we stand for the freedom to read. It is our kūleana to mālama pono this right for our beloved community. It is our kūleana to stand with our sister ALA chapters and the national ALA to mālama this right for all. Together, we are as strong as the ʻaʻali‘i tree, prepared to weather any storm to fight for and shelter the diverse rights and interests of our communities.
With respect and aloha,
The Board of the Hawaiʻi Library Association