The Vermont Library Association (VLA) stands firmly against any legislation that restricts or impedes any education on Racism, “Divisive” Concepts, Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education in libraries and educational institutions. This includes any books, resources, curriculum, or programming that libraries provide. Furthermore, we believe that it is imperative to call attention to portions of our history that have been previously omitted, misrepresented, distorted or misstated.
VLA is committed to upholding intellectual freedom in all of our libraries: Public Libraries, School Libraries, Special Libraries, and Academic Libraries. People must be able to access information without censorship and without fear that their intellectual inquiries are illegal. It is only through the vigorous upholding of freedoms of speech and inquiry that we can truly be a democratic nation that strives not only to understand its history, but to learn and become better from it.
Libraries and librarians have had a long history of upholding all forms of intellectual freedom. The current attacks and efforts to use legislation to suppress it are alarming, and are reaching unprecedented numbers throughout our country. Critical thinking and civil discourse for all points of view must be protected and encouraged in a democracy. Any attack on these tenets is an affront to the rights of all people and is intended to work against the values of equity, diversity and inclusion for which all libraries strive for.
VLA is committed to supporting our librarians and the communities they serve. We pledge to defend, assist, and stand with our members if and when they are challenged. Furthermore, we pledge to continue to educate our communities on the importance of holding sacred the freedoms that the United States of America was built on, not only as an inalienable right, but as foundational to our democracy and our efforts to be an example of a true, thriving democracy throughout the world.
The Vermont Library Association is in agreement with, and stands firmly with, the American Library Association’s Statement on Censorship of Information Addressing Racial Injustice, Black American History, and Diversity Education of August 18, 2021.
The Vermont Library Association is in agreement with, and stands firmly with, the American Library Association’s Statement on Book Censorship of November 29, 2021.
Additional resources on Critical Race Theory
- The American Bar Association: A Lesson on Critical Race Theory
- New York Times: What is Critical Race Theory?
- ACLU: State Lawmakers Are Trying to Ban Talk About Race in Schools
Every year at the annual conference, the Vermont Library Association presents five awards for outstanding service to and support of the state’s libraries. This year, we did something a little different. Rather than ask people to nominate for our usual awards, we invited them to name their own awards. The results were entertaining and heartfelt.
The winners were announced during the conference, “Emerging Energized,” held online May 25, 26, 27, and June 1 and 2. You can watch the awards ceremony recording here.
And the winners are…Read more
A letter sent to Governor Phil Scott from the VLA Executive Board.
To the Honorable Phil Scott, Governor of Vermont:
Secretary Smith indicated at the press conference on February 2nd that Vermont is “open to discussions about what comes next” with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. In this spirit, the Executive Committee of the Vermont Library Association asks the State of Vermont to prioritize library workers alongside other front-line workers.
Library workers continue to be grateful for the support and patience of our respective communities as we all cope with the COVID-19 crisis. We have also become even more aware of the value that our communities place on library services and how essential library resources continue to be for people of all ages in our towns and villages. As a group, library workers have made determined efforts to build and enhance library offerings.
- Updating and adding to educational materials for in-school and homeschool learners and their families, from preschool through post-secondary education
- Increasing access to technology resources, from laptops loans to expanded wi-fi service
- Providing and maintaining accurate and up-to-date information about the COVID situation, including economic, health and educational details
- Offering a reliable source for engaging and meaningful education and entertainment
- Reaching out to community members who may have less frequent social contact during the State of Emergency
To sustain this level of service and to prepare for upcoming demands on library services, such as reopening our spaces for public use, librarians and library staff in public, school, academic and special libraries need protection from exposure to Covid-19. Therefore, we ask that library staff be place in the same group as other front-line workers in the proposed schedule for administration of the COVID vaccine.
As State Health Commissioner, Mark Levine, M.D., stated, ““Having a safe and effective vaccine is an essential tool to stop the virus from spreading. We see every day what it means to have a highly infectious disease spread without a vaccine available to keep it in check.” Making sure library staff are among those protected will mean that libraries can offer their critical services to those in need.
We support recent statements by the Vermont School Library Association, the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, and other professional organizations who have made similar requests, and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this further.
Vermont Library Association Executive Committee
Kevin Unrath, President (Library Director Shelburne)
Amy Olsen, Past President (Library Director Hyde Park)
Mike Roy, Vice President (Dean of Library Services, Middlebury)
Marie Schmukal, Secretary (Library Director, Warren)
Deputy Commissioner Tracy Dolan, Department of Health
Vermont State Librarian Jason Broughton
The Executive Board of the Vermont Library Association (VLA) stands in solidarity with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA) and in endorsement of the Executive Board of the American Library Association’s (ALA) June 1 statement in condemning violence and racism toward black people and all people of color.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis, MN police officers is the most recent in a long line of events in the United States reminding us that racism is not a thing of the past. The Executive Board of VLA urges our members to use your spheres of influence to respond to these events in your communities, to continue to advocate for all people regardless of race, to uphold fairness and justice in your policies and in your day to day operations and to continue to stand firm against “acts of prejudice and threats of violence”.
Amy Olsen, President
Kevin Unrath, President Elect
Cindy Weber, Past President
Marie Schmukal, Secretary
Susan Smolinsky, Treasurer