The Saline County Library Alliance (SCLA) invites the public to participate in a peaceful protest. The group organized in 2023 response to a proposed ordinance by the Saline County Quorum Court. The ordinance would mean staffing decisions would be made by the Saline County Judge instead of by the Library and its Board of Directors.
To attend the SCLA rally, come to the Saline County Courthouse at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 21, 2023. The address is 201 N. Main St. in downtown Benton.
The statement from the SCLA is as follows:
For nearly 6 months, the Saline County Quorum Court and County Judge Matt Brumley have been publicly (and privately) attacking the independence and credibility of our library and its staff at the behest of a hate group with outsized influence.
More below 👇🏻
On Monday, August 21st, they intend to amend county law in order to strip the Board of its singular authority to hire/fire library staff and oversee budgetary matters of the library in addition to recategorizing it as an “advisory board,” potentially costing the library $200,000 in state funding. Those powers will then be unconstitutionally given to the County Judge and Quorum Court instead, granting near unilateral authority over the Saline County Library to a single elected official.
All of this comes in response to Library Director Patty Hector stating that no books can be relocated pursuant to an April resolution passed by the Quorum Court, as the library is already in compliance with the law, and further action could constitute viewpoint discrimination. It is worth remembering that the original resolution passed was based on a proposed ordinance from JP Jim Whitley to mandate removal of childrens’ books featuring LGBTQ+ elements from the library entirely. As a result of Ms. Hector’s statements, Judge Matt Brumley stated he has “lost faith” in library leadership and would like to see her employment terminated.
This amendment (if allowed to pass) will cost Saline County both financially and reputationally. Act 372, an Arkansan book-banning piece of legislation, is currently under injunction by a federal judge, and Crawford County is presently under suit as well for mandating that certain books be made inaccessible to children.
More below 👇🏻
The new ordinance mandates that the library purchase insurance covering the county’s legal liability in the event of a lawsuit, burdening the library for their policy. With these financial politics, the Quorum Court is seemingly inviting legal action against them.
That, coupled with the ongoing use of tasteless billboards by a local extremist group (and targeted harassment of library staff and patrons by its members) is threatening Saline County’s potential for growth and prosperity in the future.
To show Saline County that we are in this together, and to provide residents with the representation they deserve, we are inviting ALL Arkansans to join us at the Saline County Courthouse from 5:00 P.M. until the end of the Quorum Court meeting in a peaceful rally in support of our library and all libraries statewide.
This ordinance circumvents state law and creates a blueprint for other counties to follow if it is allowed to stand, and all Arkansans have a stake in preventing it.