Missouri Secretary of State withdraws support for American Library Association over faith-based publisher dispute

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Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft announced his office would no longer support the American Library Association (ALA) following comments by the organization encouraging libraries to take measures to stifle a faith-based publisher from holding story hours in libraries across the country, including Missouri.

Ashcroft sent a letter to ALA Executive Director Tracie Hall, calling out the organization’s “blatantly political stance” taken by the group’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. During a Zoom call with librarians, the ALA laid out several ways to counter a faith-based organization that plans on holding several events in libraries nationwide in August.

“[My] office cannot continue to support an organization that does not protect the First Amendment rights of Missourians and refuses to follow its own governing documents,” Ashcroft wrote. “My hope is that you (ALA) reconsider this blatantly political stance, abide by your own principles, and protect the rights of Missourians.”

Additionally, in the letter, Ashcroft quotes the ALA’s Bill of Rights, Article VI, “Libraries which make exhibit spaces and meeting rooms available to the public they serve should make such facilities available on an equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use.”

The Missouri State Library, a division of the Secretary of State’s office, provides millions of dollars each year through grants and other funding and promotes the development and improvement of library services throughout the state. “I believe strongly in the value of public libraries. My office will continue to be an advocate for Missouri’s libraries, as they serve a vital role in our communities” Ashcroft added.

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