Lafayette parish librarian who spoke out against censorship of LGBTQ books could be fired on Monday | New

A branch manager of the Lafayette Parish Library who spoke out against censorship at board meetings faces losing her job.

The Library Board of Control is due to hold a special meeting Monday evening with an executive session to assess Library Director Danny Gillane, who was appointed Director in June 2021, and to discuss and assess the employment of Cara Chance, the director of the North Regional Branch of the library in Carencro.

Chance was one of the few library workers to speak out against efforts to ban books and restrict book viewing in the public library system.

Gillane, who is out of town on vacation, replaced Teresa Elberson, who retired in January 2021 under pressure from the board, which has become progressively more conservative.

Chance was apparently told in a letter she received on Friday from library board chairman Robert Judge that her employment would be discussed at Monday’s 5:15 p.m. closed meeting at the regional library. south on Johnston Street to South City Parkway.

His notification came hours before the notice of meeting and agenda were distributed Friday afternoon, just in time to comply with Louisiana’s open meeting law which requires notice “not later than twenty-four hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, before the meeting.”

Lafayette Public Library Director Danny Gillane, left, speaks with Library Board Chairman Robert Judge June 9, 2021, in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Gillane said on Saturday he first heard of an executive session at the June board meeting and was told it was for his annual appraisal. His vacation was planned before this announcement. Council members told him nothing about Chance being on the agenda, he said.

The council did not ask Gillane to discipline Chance, he said, and he did not ask the council to discipline her.

“This council never asked me to do anything in regards to the day-to-day running of the library,” Gillane said.

Gillane is an at-will employee hired by the council. He can be fired by the board.

Louisiana Revised Statute 25:215 states that the board of control shall have the power “to employ a librarian and, upon the recommendation and approval of the librarian, to employ assistant librarians and other employees,” according to the library website.

Chance is a public service employee under the Lafayette Consolidated Government. Gillane said if he wanted to terminate an employee, he would have to go through LCG’s human resources department. It is unclear whether the library board did this.

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Rule IX, Section 1.2 of the LCG Civil Service Rules states that an employee’s “Appointing Authority” may take disciplinary action for any of a list of reasons, including:

  • Refusal or failure to perform assigned duties satisfactorily.
  • Deliberate omission of an act which it was his duty to perform.
  • Commission of an act or acts prejudicial to the public interest or to the classified service.
  • Insubordination.
  • Deliberately offensive or discourteous behavior towards the public, employees, elected officials or any other person, including any behavior that is dishonest, disgraceful, immoral or harmful.
  • Conduct unbecoming of a Classified Service employee that would bring discredit, public embarrassment or harm to the proper functioning of LCG.
  • Any act or omission to act which the Board accepts as sufficient to show that the offender is unfit or unsuitable for employment in classified service.

Civil service rules state that the appointing authority “shall take appropriate corrective and progressive action to maintain the standards of service of employees subject to these rules”.

Disciplinary measures may include:

  • End of employment.
  • Demotion.
  • Suspension without pay not exceeding 30 days per calendar year.
  • Temporary salary reduction of 5% not exceeding five pay periods.
  • Written reprimand.

If the library board votes to discipline Chance, she has the right to appeal to the public service board.

At a meeting in November, when the council considered banning ‘This Book Is Gay’ at the request of a patron, Chance asked council members who they thought they were to deny ratepayers with different moral values the right to the resources that they and their children might want.

“These are the people we serve. We don’t serve the council,” Chance said. “We serve the public and the public is made up of a lot of different individuals with a lot of different stories. Who are you to try to drown them out?”

The board voted not to ban the book because Gillane had already decided to move all teenage nonfiction books to the adult nonfiction section.

The last time Chance spoke was at the June 22 board meeting, the first meeting after Gillane told library managers they weren’t allowed to create displays. of LGBTQ books for Pride Month. He said the decision was his, not the board’s.

Chance put on a three-sided teen love book exhibit in June. One side was regular teen romance books, the second was teen romance novels made into movies, and the third was LGBTQ teen romance books. The section was not labeled, but a bright rainbow marked the section which contained books like “Lawn Boy” and “Princess Princess Ever After”.

At the June 23 board meeting on book displays, Chance said, “If board members want to tell LGBTQ residents individually that they’re different or that they need to be hidden, ‘this discrimination rests entirely on your shoulders,” Chance said. not, acting as board members, force this on her, she said.

“If you, as a council member, attempt to institutionalize this disregard and discrimination in a government entity like a library,” Chance said, “then that carries the weight and the voice of every citizen in the parish.”

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