Boise, Idaho—The Idaho Library of Commerce and Tourism is calling on the Library Service Agency to remove the Idaho Public Library’s Public Libraries Act from the Idaho Constitution, which it says will create a system that will be unable to function without a significant portion of the state’s public library facilities.
The Idaho Public Libraries’ Public Libraries act of 1949 was written to create a public library in Idaho that was to serve a population of over 200,000 people.
The act has been in effect since 1975.
However, in 2017, the Library Services Agency’s Public Liaison Council voted to repeal the act, arguing that it was obsolete and the public should not have to pay to use public libraries.
The council said the act was necessary to ensure the state continued to have a viable public library.
“The public library is an essential service that provides essential services to the public, such as education, health care, the arts, recreation and entertainment,” the council wrote in a memo to the Idaho Library Service Authority.
“In order to provide services to this public, it is necessary to preserve its autonomy and independence.”
The council’s memo was posted on the Idaho Legislature’s website.
Boise Public Library Board President Joe Mowbray said he supports the council’s decision.
Mowbrary said the Idaho legislature should consider the public’s interest in preserving its own library and not allow the library board to take away their autonomy.
“It’s not something that I feel strongly about, but I do support the councils recommendation,” Mowbridays statement read.
“As you know, the Public Library of Idaho is the most heavily patronized and served branch of the public libraries in the state.”
The Idaho Senate on Monday approved the council�s recommendations.
The measure now goes to the House.
The council said in its memo to lawmakers that it would not support any plan that would make the Idaho public library obsolete, including the removal of the Public Libraries Public Libraries bill.
“This is not about saving money, this is about preserving the public trust,” Mows statement read, “and our state�s public library will continue to function with its current staff and facilities.”
The library’s Public Relations Director Chris Lathrop said that as a public service agency, the library does not have a choice in how the library is managed, but does support the councils recommendation.
“We will continue our efforts to keep the library in service and serving our community with a positive vision of the future,” Lathramps statement read in part.